From: Amily on
Barbershop in Bucharest around 1842. Woodcut. As shown in this image,
the barbershop also provides an opportunity for social contacts.

The barber's trade is an ancient one. Razors have been found among
relics of the Bronze Age (circa 3500 BC) in Egypt.

Shaving, either of the head or face, was not always a voluntary act,
for it has been enforced by law in England and elsewhere.[citation

Before the Macedonian conquest brought the custom of clean shaving,
the êïõñåõò in the Greek agora would trim and style his patrons'
beards, hair, and fingernails, as gossip and debate flowed freely.

Barbering was introduced to Rome by the Greek colonies in Sicily in
296 B.C., and barber shops quickly became very popular centres for
daily news and gossip. A morning visit to the tonsor became a part of
the daily routine, as important as the visit to the public baths, and
a young man's first shave (tonsura) was an essential part of his
coming of age ceremony.

A few Roman tonsores became wealthy and influential, running shops
that were favorite loci publici of high society; however, most were
simple tradesmen, owning small storefronts or setting up their stool
in the street and offering shaves for a mere quadrans. Some had
reputations as clumsy butchers who left their patrons scarred about
the cheeks and chin; their dull bronze or copper (never steel) razors
must share some of the blame. The better barbers offered depilatories
for those customers who refused the razor.
Interior of a barber's shop, circa 1920.

The barbers of former times were also surgeons and dentists. In
addition to haircutting, hairdressing, and shaving, barbers performed
surgery, bloodletting and leeching, fire cupping, enemas, and the
extraction of teeth. Thus they were called barber surgeons, and they
formed their first organization in 1094. The barber pole red and white
in spiral indicated the two crafts, surgery in red and barbering in
white. The barber was paid higher than the surgeon until surgeons were
entered into British war ships during its many naval wars. Some of the
duties of the barber included neck manipulation, cleaning of ears and
scalp, draining of boils, fistula and lancing of cysts with wicks.
[edit] Animals

The term "barbering" when applied to laboratory mice is a behaviour
where a dominant mouse will use her teeth to pluck out hairs from the
face of a passive mouse when they groom each other (barbering is
practiced mostly by female mice). If moved to a cage with other mice,
the "barber" will continue to practice her job and pull out hairs from
her new cage-mates.[1]