The Burns Archive Presents the Photography of German Dueling Societies - Atlas Obscura
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New York, New York

The Burns Archive Presents the Photography of German Dueling Societies

A rare look at the rituals and rites of "bragging scars," with Dr. Burns from the legendary Burns photography collection.

Join us for a rare viewing and discussion of the vividly visual history of Mensur and Schmiss at our special wine and cheese reception, led by the esteemed Stanley B. Burns, M.D. of the Burns Archive & Collection

Mensur, the highly ritualized Germanic dueling practice dating back to the 18th century, often resulted in a Schmiss, or a local scarification. In this first look at these so-called "bragging scars" acquired as a result of dueling, you'll discover the combatants, spectators, and surgeons that were so much a part of Germanic fraternity life. These photographs are a part of an astonishing collection of images from the mid-19th century through the 1950s know as "The Burns Archive" and are not typically available for public viewing.

Stanley B. Burns, M.D. is renowned for The Burns Archive, his own private and extensive collection of photographs, especially those documenting early medical practices. The photos seen in Dr. Burns’ collection often depict dark or disquieting aspects of life, such as these battle scars that resulted from duels. This event provides a unusual opportunity to see the private collection and speak with Dr. Burns about the photographs that he's compiled.

Included your admission is a signed copy of exhibition's catalog, Mensur & Schmiss, which is the first photographic history of its kind. Within the book are 175 fascinating photographs, as well as excerpts from Mark Twain and Jerome K. Jerome, whose witnessing of the practice during their travels left a mark their memory.


  • Included in the price of your ticket is the Mensur & Schmiss book, signed by Stanley B. Burns, M.D.
  • Individual Ticket + Signed Copy of Mensur & Schmiss: $50.
  • Duo Ticket (2 tickets + 1 signed book): $75.
  • Lecture led by Dr. Burns, with a wine and cheese reception before and after.



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