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Sailmaker's needle case, 19th century

Date: 19th century
Overall: 152 x 25 x 25 mm, 0.05 kg
Medium: Wood case, steel needles
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Needle set
Object No: 00028361

User Terms

    This turned wooden needle case containing two early steel sailmaker's needles is believed to have been made in the nineteenth century.
    SignificanceThis needle set provides a useful example of sailors tools used on board nineteenth century sailing vessels.
    HistorySail making was an essential trade in the days of sail and continued to be important even when sail had declined. Sail makers worked ashore usually in sail lofts, but large ships continued to carry a sail maker in modern times. Sail makers worked closely with riggers and the two trades overlapped. Sail makers did all kinds of canvas and rope work. While most seamen were expected to be able to sew, to repair sails and rigging and to be competent at rope work and knot making was considered a skilled trade.

    Sail makers had to understand stresses and strengths of the materials they used, their elasticity and the degree of stretch to allow for. Before commercial standardisation of rope and canvas, sail makers developed their own ways of testing and allowances, with the tradition of sail making passed on through apprenticeships.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Wooden needle case containing two sailmaker needles

    Primary title: Sailmaker's needle case, 19th century

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