You’ll never look at a barber pole the same way again…
A few facts about the history of the barber pole:
• In the Middle Ages, hair was not the only thing that barbers cut. They also performed surgery, tooth extractions, and bloodletting.
• The barber pole as a symbol of the profession is a legacy of bloodletting.
• The barber surgeon’s necessities for that curious custom were a staff for the patient to grasp (so the veins on the arm would stand out sharply), a basin to hold leeches and catch blood, and a copious supply of linen bandages.
• After the operation was completed, the bandages would be hung on the staff and sometimes placed outside as advertisement.
• Twirled by the wind, they would form a red lamp; white spiral pattern that was later adopted for painted poles. The earliest poles were surmounted by a leech basin, which in time was transformed into a ball.
• One interpretation of the colors of the barber pole was that red represented the blood, blue the veins, and white the bandages.