The Barber

The Barber.

Randle Holme, an indisputable authority, in his great work on "Heraldry," figures a barber as above. "He beareth argent," says Holme; "a barber bare-headed with a pair of cisers in his right hand, and a comb in his left, clothed in russet, his apron checque of the first, and azure; a barber is always known by his checque party-coloured apron, therefore it needs not mentioning." Holme emphatically adds, "neither can be termed a barber, (or poler, or shaver,) as anciently they were called, till his apron be about him;" that is to say, "his checque party-coloured apron." This, and this only, is the "flag of his profession."

Holme derives the denomination barber from barba, a beard, and describes him as a cutter of hair; he was also anciently termed a poller, because in former times to poll was to cut the hair: to trim was to cut the beard, after shaving, into form and order.

The intrument-case of a barber, and the instruments in their several divisions, are particularly described by Holme. It contained his looking-glass, a set of horn combs with teeth on one side and wide, "for the combing and readying of long, thick, and stony heads of hair, and such like perriwigs;" a set of box combs, a set of ivory combs with fine teeth on both sides, an ivory beard-comb, a beard-iron called the forceps, being a curling iron for the beard, a set of razors, tweezers with an earpick, a rasp to file the point of a tooth, a hone for his razors, a bottle of sweet oil for his hone, a powder box with sweet powder, a puff to powder the hair, a four square bottle with a screwed head for sweet water, wash balls and sweet balls, caps for the head to keep the hair up, trimming cloths to put before a man, and napkins to put about his neck, and dry his hands and face with. After he was shaved and barbed, the barber was to hold him the glass, that he might see "his new-made face," and instruct the barber where it was amiss: the barber was then to "take off the linens, brush his clothes, present him with his hat, and, according to his hire, make a bow, with 'your humble servant, sir.'"

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