Brass instrument for 'branding', deserters with a letter 'D', in leather covered case, by Savigny and Co., 67 St. James's Street, London, England, 1810-1850.
Branding tools stamped the letter ‘D’ on the skin of army or navy deserters. The adjustable points, which still bear ink traces of ink, were pushed through the skin by a sprung-powered mechanism. This unpleasant device was made by Savigny & Co, better known as a major London maker of surgical instruments in the 1700s and early 1800s.
Branding as a form of punishment and a mark of ownership exists throughout history. The Greeks and Romans branded slaves and runaways by stamping the skin with hot irons. In England during the 1500s, Edward VI decreed gypsies and vagabonds could be stamped with a ‘V’ on the chest. Branding was abolished in 1829 with the exception of army deserters. After this time, the mark was tattooed on the body. The practice was totally abandoned in 1879.
- Wellcome (general)
- Object Number:
- case, leather, covered, case, velvet, lined, case, wood, instrument, brass and instrument, steel
- branding tool
- furnishing and equipment
- tools & equipment
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
Download catalogue entry as json
View manifest in IIIF viewer
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.