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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
Plague Doctor hood in black garment leather
Plague Doctor hood in black garment leather
TomBanwell
$230.00 USD
Bunny leather mask in white
Bunny leather mask in white
TomBanwell
$73.00 USD
Plague Doctor's mask Maximus in white leather
Plague Doctor's mask Maximus in white leather
TomBanwell
$335.00 USD
Plague Doctor's mask Maximus in black leather
Plague Doctor's mask Maximus in black leather
TomBanwell
$325.00 USD
Plague Doctor mask in white leather "Schnabel"
Plague Doctor mask in white leather "Schnabel"
TomBanwell
$225.00 USD
Rabbit mask in leather - Red
Rabbit mask in leather - Red
TomBanwell
$79.00 USD
Flames leather mask
Flames leather mask
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Bad Rabbit mask in black leather
Bad Rabbit mask in black leather
TomBanwell
$84.00 USD
Corax Riveted Plague Doctor half mask leather
Corax Riveted Plague Doctor half mask leather
TomBanwell
$100.00 USD
Swirly leather mask  for glasses
Swirly leather mask for glasses
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Plague Doctor Costume, Classic mask
Plague Doctor Costume, Classic mask
TomBanwell
$739.00 USD
Plague Dr Costume, Schnabel mask
Plague Dr Costume, Schnabel mask
TomBanwell
$669.00 USD
Roxy leather mask in gold
Roxy leather mask in gold
TomBanwell
$24.00 USD
Lightning Leather Mask in Black
Lightning Leather Mask in Black
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Bird mask in gold leather
Bird mask in gold leather
TomBanwell
$39.00 USD
Totem leather mask for eyeglasses in black
Totem leather mask for eyeglasses in black
TomBanwell
$42.00 USD
Incognito Leather mask in black size S/M
Incognito Leather mask in black size S/M
TomBanwell
$22.00 USD
Eyecage Leather Mask in Black
Eyecage Leather Mask in Black
TomBanwell
$49.00 USD
Bird Beak leather mask in black
Bird Beak leather mask in black
TomBanwell
$44.00 USD
Half mask in black leather "Roxy"
Half mask in black leather "Roxy"
TomBanwell
$24.00 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
Phoenix leather mask in oranges
Phoenix leather mask in oranges
TomBanwell
$65.00 USD
Stiltzkin leather plague doctor mask in antique white
Stiltzkin leather plague doctor mask in antique white
TomBanwell
$139.00 USD
SALE!! Vixen half mask in purple leather
SALE!! Vixen half mask in purple leather
TomBanwell
$16.00 USD
Mini Hearts Leather Mask in Black
Mini Hearts Leather Mask in Black
TomBanwell
$19.00 USD
Plague Doctor Costume, Maximus mask
Plague Doctor Costume, Maximus mask
TomBanwell
$779.00 USD

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