The barber's company and the surgeon's guild were united by law in 1450. The law was enacted so that no one during surgery should practice barbering and no barber should practice any phase of surgery except the pulling of teeth.
In 1745 a bill was passed separating barbers from surgeons. When the barber-surgeons separated, the barber kept the pole as their identification. The pole consists of red and white, or red, white and blue stripes. Red for blood, white for bandages and blue for veins.
Most men of the colonial times were smooth shaven and many of the rich wore wigs. Also in the colonial days, barbering was hardly considered a white man's trade. Hence it was mostly confined to black barbers. Wealthy people became slave owners and the duty of the barber was shifted to the servants.
The average shop at this time cost approximately $20 to equip and were ten by twelve feet in size. The shop consisted of a straight-backed chair with a head piece resembling a crutch, a basin of water, a piece of common soap and a brush, 'setting' chairs, and enough towels to last a week. "One towel to every ten to twelve customers." Hair cuts were five or ten cents and shaves were three cents.
In 1897 the state of Minnesota passed legislation for a barber license. For the next forty years various states enacted legislation whereby barbers were licensed and inspected for sterilization to protect the public from disease. With the enactment of the licensing laws and stringent inspections, diseases such as impetigo, anthrax, ringworm and barbers itch are seldom heard of today.