Document wallet, leather, used by Richard Phillips, bloodletter, on board the Eclipse, English(?), 1800-1813
The writing inside this document wallet advertises the services of Mr Richard Phillips. He was a ‘cupper’, based at Three Crown Street, in Southwark, London. A ‘cupper’ was also known as a blood letter. They were so called because they used cupping glasses to draw blood from the skin. The handwritten inscription inside this leather wallet also shows Phillips used it on board HMS Eclipse in 1813. This suggests he was on the voyage to the Leeward Islands in the West Indies which the ship undertook that year.
Bloodletting treated a range of diseases and conditions. During cupping, warm glass cups placed on the skin drew blood to the surface of the skin. In wet cupping, the blood was released from the body using a lancet or scarificator (spring-operated lancets) to cut an area of the skin, which was then cupped.