used an impressive array of hardware. Their mainstay was the lancet,
a small, sharp, two-edged knife. Wielding the lancet took quite a
bit of skill; a false cut could slice a nerve or a tendon. To make
the job easier a Viennese inventor produced a spring-loaded lancet,
called a "Schnapper" in German or a phleam in English. It consisted
of a case about two inches long with a spring-loaded blade emerging
from the top. The bleeder would cock the blade, press the Schnapper
against the skin and push a release, causing the blade to snap down
and across. The Schnapper had the safety feature of not cutting beyond
a certain depth.
Sometimes phlebotomists would use a scarificator -- a spring-loaded box containing anywhere from twelve to eighteen blades. This tool was often used in conjunction with "cupping" to relieve local inflammation. The bleeder would place a glass cup against the skin and warm it with a torch. The heat would create a vacuum strong enough to raise a large blood-filled blister. The bleeder would pull off the cup, spring the scarificator, and then reapply the cup to draw out more blood.
-- Douglas Starr
Photo: Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.