Plaque showing dental and surgical operations, Europe, 1801-1900

1300-1700; 1801-1900 in Europe

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Carved rectangular wooden plaque, depicting dental and surgical operations, 19th century, European

Carved from oak, this plaque shows a painful tooth pulling in progress while another man undergoes a surgical treatment to the head. There were no modern anaesthetics at this time so both men would have been in a great deal of pain. The plaque may have been modelled on a shop sign used to advertise a barber-surgeon’s business or the skills of a travelling practitioner – who may have had no more than the most basic of medical skills.

Shop signs have traditionally used pictures instead of words in times when many potential customers could not read.


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