This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ever Wonder About the Barber Symbol?

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

While doing some research for my current Regency in process, I discovered a unique tidbit about barbers. I've often seen the candy-cane sign outside of barber shops, but I never knew how it came to be. The image here is of red, white and blue, but the ones I've seen in person are only red and white--at least here in NC.

My book is set in 1808 Hampshire, England. My goal was to make sure that barbers were in existence back then, that they weren't called something else, and to discover the difference in the layout of a barber shop in the early 1800's compared to what we've come to know from the 1900's.

What I discovered was that barbers were also surgeons and dentists in early medieval history. Barbers often lived in castles and large manors to be on hand to take care of the wealthy. Their duties included the lancing of cysts and wicks, draining of boils, bloodletting and leeching, teeth extraction, and cleaning of ears and scalp, necessary amputation. The red and white poles represent the blood and bandages of the barber surgeon's profession. In 1745 England, the medical profession split from the barbers and created The Company of Surgeons. The poles continued to be a symbol of barbers, regardless of the separation of the medical profession.


Thank you for my history lesson today. I did not know this!

Yes, I have wondered. Thanks for the info!

Julie =)

Yikes! Love the history, thanx!

I do find tidbits like this very fascinating. Thanks for sharing, everyone!