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Barber Basin

ca. 1730
Origin: England, London or Bristol
H: 4 3/16"; D: 10 3/8"
Tin-glazed earthenware (delft)
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1958-504
Steep-sided bowl with wide flaring rim and low foot ring is covered with a white tin-enamel ground. The rim has an arc cut out for the neck, depression for a soap ball, and is decorated in two shades of blue with a geometric pattern projecting inward from the outside edge. The interior of the bowl, also in two blues, is decorated with barber's implements: Comb, scissors, razor, two shaving brushes, and two soap balls.
Label:Barbers' bowls have a cutout on the rim to cup around a man's neck (or against his chest, as some contemporary illustrations show). The depression presumably was used as a soap receptacle or a thumb rest. Most surviving examples include barber's tools among their decoration and sometimes surgeon's tools even though the two professions had been separated before these were made. Dated examples range from 1681 to 1763 with no basic change in form. A basin in the Bristol Museum has related rim decoration and the same selection of instruments.
Provenance:A. & K. Embden, London