Leech Tube Antique Glass

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An antique leech tube. This one was discovered in the bottom of a mid 19th century apothecary chest, fortunately in perfect condition.

The practice of bleeding whilst common, was not done indiscriminately. 18th and 19th century physicians held great store by the correct application of leeches in different circumstances, for different conditions. So for example the number of leeches and the method and site of application would be different when treating an iritis than it would be for pelvic pain. Leeches could be directed to small areas such as the mouth, eyes, ear, or vagina, by placing them in a small receptacle called a “leech tube”. Despite being used frequently, perhaps because of their unremarkable appearance and fragility, few have survived.

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