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Scrimshaw glove stretcher

Date: 19th century
Overall: 69 x 40 x 6 mm, 0.05 kg
Display Dimensions: 168 x 38 x 8 mm
Medium: Whalebone, metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Desmond Liddy
Object Name: Glove stretcher
Object No: 00027337

User Terms

    This glove stretcher is commercially made from whalebone, with a round swivel hinge and a spring inside to give the scissor-like action needed. Glove stretchers were used to open out the fingers of tightly fitting skin gloves. They would have been a common household item in the nineteenth century, among the classes of people who wore gloves much of the time.
    SignificanceThis glove stretcher represents the 19th century production of functional items of scrimshaw. Although scrimshaw was usually made by sailors for recreational purposes, this unique piece was commercially manufactured.
    HistoryScrimshaw can trace its roots back to America's early whaling industry in 19th century. The craft was practiced by whale hunters who had plenty of spare time on their hands and is today one of a handful of folk art traditions that maintains a presence in contemporary craft practices.

    Scrimshaw is produced by engraving, carving, inlaying or assembling bone from marine mammals, including whale bone, teeth and baleen, walrus tusks and shell. Using jackknives, saws, homemade files and needles sailors would create functional everyday objects or artistic pieces etched with images of women, whaling scenes or memories of home. It is often difficult to determine exactly who and for what purpose some scrimshaw pieces were made and the majority of objects cannot be attributed to a particular artist.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: GLOVE STRETCHER, 19th CENTURY.

    Web title: Scrimshaw glove stretcher

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