Pewter box for transporting leeches

1801-1900 in United Kingdom

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Pewter leech box, 19th century. Graduated black perspex background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Pewter leech box, 19th century

Specific types of leech were used in bloodletting and this special box would have been used to transport them to where they were needed. Leeches were such a popular treatment that by 1830 demand was outstripping the supply. They are a type of worm with suckers at both ends of the body, although only the frontal sucker, which has teeth, is used to feed. Once attached to a living body, they feed on its blood. Leeches normally live in freshwater and collecting them from river beds was traditionally a female occupation.

This box is made of pewter and has air holes in one end. The word “LEECHES” is engraved on the side. Few leech boxes have survived.


Object Number:
leech box
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
Loan, Wellcome Trust

Cite this page


We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.

Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero

Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data


Download catalogue entry as json

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.