Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Bone lace bobbins recording deaths

Two of these bobbins commemorate sad occasions, the one on the right is inscribed ‘Eliza Ward is no moor’ and the middle one says ‘Eliza Hall my dear sister died Feb 5 1866’. Many of these types of bobbins recording deaths also state the age of the deceased but perhaps that was more common if they were exceptionally old or young. T L Huetson, who carried out extensive research into lace bobbins, records that in some cases a piece of bone from the meat served at the funeral meal was used to make memorial bobbins. I don’t think this is the case here as both bobbins are of good quality and don’t give the appearance of coming from an ordinary joint of meat. The bobbin maker David Springett in ‘Success to the lace pillow’ says he was initially sceptical of this tradition as contemporary meat joints do not have thick enough bones for bobbin making but he notes that animals in the 19th century were fatter, larger boned and slaughtered later in life so could have had bones of the required thickness. Also many village families kept a pig which was fed on scraps and could have provided bones for the occasional bobbin. However, most 19th century bone bobbins are made from horse or oxen bone, both of which were widely available at the time. The third bobbin in the image may also be linked to the central one. It is inscribed ‘David Hall my dear son 1866’. I bought these two bobbins together, but I don’t know if David and Eliza Hall were nephew and aunt. However, it is a coincidence that the bobbins were made in the same year by the same maker and I found them both for sale in the same place. There is no indication why the lacemaker chose to commemorate her son in 1866 – I hope it was to record his birth or some other happy occasion. 

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