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Short Stories: Plague Mask

Oct 25, 2012

by Tom Banwell

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Here at Etsy, we believe that the story behind an object is often just as fascinating as the object itself. Short Stories is our series dedicated to telling the tales behind extraordinary pieces found or created by Etsy sellers.

Here’s Tom Banwell with the history behind this unsettling mask.

When the bubonic plague struck Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, some doctors took to wearing beaked masks while treating patients. At the time, it was believed that the disease was carried by birds. The doctors had masks with birdlike beaks, which they filled with aromatic herbs to filter the bad air. In all likelihood, they also benefitted from the scariness of the masks by keeping infectious people at a distance.

When I got into leather mask making, I felt that the plague doctor mask was about as cool a mask as I’d ever seen, and it wasn’t long before I had a go at making my own. I found a photo of a plague doctor mask in a Danish museum, and used it as a model to base mine on. I moved the eyes more to the front so that someone could actually wear it and be able to see out of it.

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More Short Stories

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Stiltzkin leather plague doctor mask in antique black
Stiltzkin leather plague doctor mask in antique black
TomBanwell
$139.00 USD
Plague Doctor mask in black leather "Schnabel"
Plague Doctor mask in black leather "Schnabel"
TomBanwell
$215.00 USD
Plague Dr Costume, Stiltzkin mask
Plague Dr Costume, Stiltzkin mask
TomBanwell
$593.00 USD
Raven leather mask
Raven leather mask
TomBanwell
$59.00 USD
Victoriana leather mask
Victoriana leather mask
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Plague Doctor mantle, shoulder cape in garment leather capelet
Plague Doctor mantle, shoulder cape in garment leather capelet
TomBanwell
$159.00 USD
Plague Doctor Staff Topper Winged Hourglass
Plague Doctor Staff Topper Winged Hourglass
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Bunny leather mask in black
Bunny leather mask in black
TomBanwell
$65.00 USD
Jackdaw leather plague doctor mask
Jackdaw leather plague doctor mask
TomBanwell
$169.00 USD
Eyecage Leather Mask in Red
Eyecage Leather Mask in Red
TomBanwell
$49.00 USD
Swirly Leather mask
Swirly Leather mask
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Flame leather mask in eyeglasses
Flame leather mask in eyeglasses
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
SALE! Fan leather mask in teal and violet
SALE! Fan leather mask in teal and violet
TomBanwell
$29.00 USD
Plague Doctor's mask in black leather Classic
Plague Doctor's mask in black leather Classic
TomBanwell
$285.00 USD
Techno Leather Mask in Silver
Techno Leather Mask in Silver
TomBanwell
$19.00 USD
Victoriana leather mask for eyeglasses
Victoriana leather mask for eyeglasses
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Phoenix leather mask in oranges
Phoenix leather mask in oranges
TomBanwell
$65.00 USD
Plague Doctor hood in black garment leather
Plague Doctor hood in black garment leather
TomBanwell
$230.00 USD
Mini Hearts Leather Mask in Black
Mini Hearts Leather Mask in Black
TomBanwell
$19.00 USD
Incognito Leather mask in black size M/L
Incognito Leather mask in black size M/L
TomBanwell
$23.00 USD
Plague Doctor's mask Maximus in black leather
Plague Doctor's mask Maximus in black leather
TomBanwell
$325.00 USD
Mini Hearts Leather Mask in Red
Mini Hearts Leather Mask in Red
TomBanwell
$19.00 USD
Flames leather mask
Flames leather mask
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Whirly leather mask in gold
Whirly leather mask in gold
TomBanwell
$32.00 USD
Plague Doctor Hat in Black Leather
Plague Doctor Hat in Black Leather
TomBanwell
$230.00 USD
Butterfly leather mask in Orange, Red and Black
Butterfly leather mask in Orange, Red and Black
TomBanwell
$42.00 USD
Rabbit mask in white leather
Rabbit mask in white leather
TomBanwell
$89.00 USD
Butterfly leather mask in Gold
Butterfly leather mask in Gold
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Plague Dr Costume, Schnabel mask
Plague Dr Costume, Schnabel mask
TomBanwell
$669.00 USD
Foxy Leather Mask
Foxy Leather Mask
TomBanwell
$49.00 USD
Unicorn leather mask
Unicorn leather mask
TomBanwell
$49.00 USD
Bemused leather mask in white
Bemused leather mask in white
TomBanwell
$32.00 USD
Tatted Bunny mask in pearlescent blue
Tatted Bunny mask in pearlescent blue
TomBanwell
$69.00 USD
Plague Doctor mask "Bubonis" in leather
Plague Doctor mask "Bubonis" in leather
TomBanwell
$215.00 USD
Incognito Leather mask in Red
Incognito Leather mask in Red
TomBanwell
$22.00 USD
Eyecage Leather Mask in Black
Eyecage Leather Mask in Black
TomBanwell
$49.00 USD

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