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Pewter box for transporting leeches, Europe, 1801-1900

  • Science Museum, London
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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
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Credit: Pewter box for transporting leeches, Europe, 1801-1900. Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Specific types of leech were used in bloodletting and this special box would have been used to transport them to where they were needed. Leeches were such a popular treatment that by 1830 demand was outstripping the supply. They are a type of worm with suckers at both ends of the body, although only the frontal sucker, which has teeth, is used to feed. Once attached to a living body, they feed on its blood. Leeches normally live in freshwater and collecting them from river beds was traditionally a female occupation. This box is made of pewter and has air holes in one end. The word “LEECHES” is engraved on the side. Few leech boxes have survived. maker: Unknown maker Place made: United Kingdom

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