Thomas Jefferson UniversityScott Memorial Library

Medical Instruments in the Archives: What is it?

Welcome back to the second week of #medicalinstrumentmonday from the Archives Twitter!

 This week’s question: What is this item and how was it used?

What is it?

Answer: This instrument is a brass scarificator from the 1850s. Scarificators, or scarifiers, were developed in the late seventeenth century to let blood. Bloodletting was in practice starting at least with the ancient Greeks. It was brought to the United States in the 17th century and was very popular throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Scarificators such as this one normally consisted of a brass, silver, or silver-plated square case with an average of twelve slots that simultaneously released sharp blades when a trigger was discharged. Slots had either single or double blades; the blades were pointed until the 1800s before becoming curved. The screw you can see in the picture regulated the depth of the blades.

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