Horn Bleeding Cups

Set of five graduated horn cupping cups with a brass twelve bladed scarificator. I sold the set of horn cups for $450 and the scarificator goes for about $250 to $350 today.

Jury Rigged Horn Bleeding Cups

A few years ago I came across a neat little set of graduated horn bleeding cups with a scarificator. What, you say? Let me explain. To begin, a scarificator is a bleeding instrument used on unsuspecting, ill people to let the bad humors out of said ill person. Huh, you say? Let me begin again. In the not-too-distant past, the medical profession believed illnesses were caused by bad humors or evil or, well you get the idea, and the cure all was by bleeding the patient, also called bloodletting or cupping, to let the bad out. Now, thank goodness we don’t do it. There are other things instead.

The scarificator is a spring loaded instrument with multiple blades that slice through the victim’s—I mean the patient’s—skin. The patient is then allowed to bleed out the illness. Warmed glass cups were an innovation to create suction over the cuts and allow more bleeding and collect the blood more neatly. Another innovation added a brass valve on the cup, which allowed attachment by a brass syringe pump to create the suction. (You can find sets of these items, including the scarificator, graduated cups and syringe in a nice box starting at $900).

Here is where my neat little jury-rigged bleeding cups come in. The doctor must have broken his cups somehow but still had his sucking syringe. So he made, or had made, a set of nesting cow horn cups. The pointy end had a hole cut in it to accept the syringe nozzle and then an animal skin was stretched over the end and allowed to dry. When the syringe nozzle was pushed in, the skin helped hold the seal. Voila! The doctor could continue to cup his patients with his nifty set of horn cupping cups.

Take a look at the picture and you will see the intact skin over the end of one of the cups. The scarificator is tipped on its side so you can see the holes the blades swing through on their way through your skin. I love antiques!

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