- 11:05 am - Mon, Jun 11, 2012
- 13 notes
"57 choice leeches" - invoice from Fitch & Nottingham in London, sold to Swindon businessman Mr. John Green, May 12, 1870. [Swindon Collection, Central Library via Flickr].
Leeches have been used for bloodletting for centuries, becoming so popular in the 18th and 19th centuries that they were almost farmed to extinction in Europe. Although falling out of fashion in the later half of the 20th century, their medical use is making a comeback in microsurgery and reconstructive surgery due to the anti-coagulant properties of their secretions, which is useful for reducing blood clots and venous pressure from pooling blood, and for healing skin grafts.
Read more about medical leeches
But despite their usefulness, it still must have been an awful challenge to make leeches attractive advertising fare. They are essentially little vampires shaped like long black boogers, which suction onto your skin and suck your blood out. I can think of few things less appealing. I think these vintage advertisements are remarkable in the ways they’ve each tackled the problem, from the elegant botanical illustrations to the generous use of exclamation points which make ‘Leeches! Leeches!! Leeches!!!' sound more like an exciting carnival ride than a slimy, parasitic worm that wants to drink your blood.