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Midwife surgeon-apothecary's signboard, England, 1701-1800

Hung outside a medical man’s premises, this painted wooden sign advertises the services of Farrant – a surgeon, apothecary and man-midwife. It dates from the 1700s. Births were usually attended by female midwives at this time. Only the wealthy could afford a trained male obstetrician. Farrant offered surgical skills but as an apothecary he also would have provided drugs.

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Glossary: apothecary

A term used until about 1800 to describe someone who prepares and sells drugs or compounds for medicinal purposes. Today the term ‘pharmacist’ or ‘pharmaceutical chemist’ is used instead.

Glossary: midwifery

The medical speciality for women who help during childbirth, as well as the period before and immediately afterwards.

Glossary: sign - promotional or advertising artefact

Lettered notice or other display that bear names, directions, warnings, advertisements, or symbols that are displayed or posted for public view. For smaller, less public identifying notices, use "labels (identifying artifacts)." For systems of signs arranged to communicate directions or essential information, use "signage."