Origin of The Barber Pole – Why is the Barber Pole Red and White?

Besides testing every product at our shop we also like to dig deep into the history of shaving. To be even more amazed about the vivid details of it and to find funny and exciting facts. As we say, discovering quality shaves.


The Barber Pole History

It’s not every day that you think about the purpose of sometimes symbolic things we see on streets. One of those symbolic things is the barber pole. We see it in front of every traditional barbershop. What do the barber pole colors represent and why are they red and blue?


Bloody history of barber-surgeon and how the barbers pole grow to be a symbol of barbershop

To answer that we need to go way back in history where barbers were not just someone who cuts you hair. Up until June 1794  barbers were called barber-surgeons. And besides cutting your facial furniture, they carried out surgical tasks including dental works.

History of barber-surgeons. Picture of token barber-surgeon.

Bloodletting was one of the tasks of barber-surgeons. Magasin Pittoresque 1857 . Photo by Morphart

One of the standard methods barber-surgeons used in old times to heal sicknesses was bloodletting.

They used a pole with two bandages around it. One was twisted around the arm before bloodletting. And the other to wrap around the wound afterward. When the pole was not in use, it was hung on the door as a sign.

As it was not very convenient and I imagine not very hygienic. Another pole was painted and used as a sign.
So the barber pole colors we see today imitate these two ribbons wrapped around the pole.


Do you have similar finds to share? We love to hear funny facts from history; please post them below.

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