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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
Beak Mask in Black Leather
Beak Mask in Black Leather
TomBanwell
$59.00 USD
Leather pouch for plague doctor costume in black deerskin
Leather pouch for plague doctor costume in black deerskin
TomBanwell
$45.00 USD
Formed Leather Pouch for Plague Doctor Costume
Formed Leather Pouch for Plague Doctor Costume
TomBanwell
$45.00 USD
Plague Doctor hood in black garment leather
Plague Doctor hood in black garment leather
TomBanwell
$230.00 USD
Vixen leather mask in Gold
Vixen leather mask in Gold
TomBanwell
$19.00 USD
Swirly Leather mask
Swirly Leather mask
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Plague Doctor mask "Bubonis" in leather
Plague Doctor mask "Bubonis" in leather
TomBanwell
$215.00 USD
Roxy leather mask in bright green
Roxy leather mask in bright green
TomBanwell
$24.00 USD
Plague Doctor's mask Maximus in black leather
Plague Doctor's mask Maximus in black leather
TomBanwell
$325.00 USD
Dragonfly leather mask in black
Dragonfly leather mask in black
TomBanwell
$24.00 USD
Icarus  Plague Doctor Mask in black Steampunk
Icarus Plague Doctor Mask in black Steampunk
TomBanwell
$345.00 USD
Pachydermos Leather mask with copper ears
Pachydermos Leather mask with copper ears
TomBanwell
$2,000.00 USD
Plague Doctor Hat in Black Leather
Plague Doctor Hat in Black Leather
TomBanwell
$230.00 USD
Stiltzkin leather plague doctor mask in antique white
Stiltzkin leather plague doctor mask in antique white
TomBanwell
$139.00 USD
Incognito Leather mask in white
Incognito Leather mask in white
TomBanwell
$22.00 USD
Mouthtrap Leather Mask
Mouthtrap Leather Mask
TomBanwell
$100.00 USD
Half Hearts leather mask in red
Half Hearts leather mask in red
TomBanwell
$32.00 USD
Incognito Leather mask in teal
Incognito Leather mask in teal
TomBanwell
$22.00 USD
Wildcat leather mask
Wildcat leather mask
TomBanwell
$29.00 USD
Hearts leather mask  Valentine
Hearts leather mask Valentine
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Plague Dr Costume, Bubonis mask
Plague Dr Costume, Bubonis mask
TomBanwell
$669.00 USD
Ichabod, Steampunk Plague Doctor Mask in white
Ichabod, Steampunk Plague Doctor Mask in white
TomBanwell
$425.00 USD
Black Widow Leather Halloween mask
Black Widow Leather Halloween mask
TomBanwell
$34.00 USD
Totem leather mask for eyeglasses in black
Totem leather mask for eyeglasses in black
TomBanwell
$42.00 USD
Bat Mask in Black Leather
Bat Mask in Black Leather
TomBanwell
$125.00 USD
Coquette leather mask for eyeglasses
Coquette leather mask for eyeglasses
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Rabbit mask in leather - black
Rabbit mask in leather - black
TomBanwell
$79.00 USD

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