The Central Ohio museum is back in all its gory historical glory.
The National Barber Museum and Hall of Fame reopened in downtown Canal Winchester in early May, three and a half years after an electrical fire forced the exhibit into a hiatus. Museum director Michael Ippoliti says it cost $100,000 to renovate the expanded space in its new venue, and an insurance policy paid $417,000 to clean the smoke-damaged memorabilia and historical knickknacks.
The collection, started in 1988 by the late Edwin Jeffers, reopened within several classrooms in a former school that the Canal Winchester district uses for its administrative offices. The number of artifacts is vast: There are rows of barber chairs, 71 tri-color poles, more than 2,000 shaving mugs, over 2,500 straight razors and many bloodletting tools, reflecting barbers' former roles as community medical providers. They held positions of respect through much of the 20th century. “Barbers were professional people and wore shirts and ties,” Ippoliti says. “They were very prominent.”
This 4-by-8-foot mural in the hallway capsulizes the profession’s history, from the days of barbers as surgeons and dentists to the focus on cutting and styling hair during the last 150 years.
The museum offers a glimpse into barbers’ wide-ranging skills with various tools of the trade, including bloodletting devices such as a 16-blade box and a cranial saw. The barber as surgeon led to the creation of the signature pole; the red represents blood, the blue represents veins, and the white represents bandages.
Portable barbers’ cases allowed World War II soldiers to get an occasional shave and a haircut. This field kit from Jeffers’ personal collection came complete with clippers, an electric razor, combs and a tin can for shaving cream.
In his early days as a Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan served as a celebrity endorser for Bickmore Easy-Shave Cream. This ad dates back to the 1930s, according to the Bickmore company’s website.
This undated porcelain bowl was used to collect blood, as barbers sought to rid “bad blood” from patients to cure illness, a practice on its way out by the late 1700s amid advances in medicine.
Want to get Columbus Monthly in your inbox? Sign up for our e-newsletter.