Friday, August 26, 2011

Plague Doctor mask

HOW, pray tell, has the amazing image of the "Plague Doctor" escaped me all these years?? The engraving below is from the Wikipedia entry on plague doctors, who were employed during outbreaks to treat plague victims. These doctors were "often were second-rate doctors not able to otherwise run a successful medical business or young physicians trying to establish themselves." Some doctors wore these beaky masks which were filled with "aromatic items" in an attempt to protect themselves from the infected, putrid air. I'm willing to bet that wasn't terribly effective... what an odious job to take on!

Doktor Schnabel von Rom ("Doctor Beak of Rome"), engraving by Paul F├╝rst, 1656

Apparently the plague doctor image has been incorporated into Steampunk imagery, and I am fully on board with this-- just Google image search "plague doctor" and some really cool artwork will come up. However right now I just want to collect and present images from one artist in particular, a leather mask maker in Penn Valley CA whose shop I found on (where else?) Etsy. His name is Tom Banwell and everything in his shop is absolutely fantastic! He has a website at but it looks like most of his sales are made through his Etsy shop. There's a whole steampunk section but I'm going to rifle the "sold" items for additional plague doctor mask images-- the photos are so delightfully spooky!

black leather
"Ichabod" in black leather

white leather
brown leather

 These masks are definitely added to my mental list of things to jump on when it magically starts raining money. They are priced in the $300-$400ish range-- very reasonable for such a marvelous hand-wrought wearable work of art. It's a perfect addition to my imaginary Steampunk Victorian library in my imaginary tumbledown haunted country farmhouse. (sigh) ...Last but not least, please allow me to present the dapper (but rather sinister) "Dr. Beulenpest".

(...More steampunk delights from the artist on deviantART.)


  1. What a great collection. I hope you are able to get a mask some day (and that farm house). Thanks for sharing these!

  2. Thank you Stacie! You will come have tea with me in my haunted farmhouse Victorian Parlor! :)