Friday 20 October 2023

Spelling on inscribed lace bobbins


The spelling on many inscribed lace bobbins is phonetic which is not really surprising as the lacemakers who bought the bobbins and the bobbin makers who made them may have had little formal education. It was not until 1880 that school attendance, in England, was made compulsory for those aged 5-10 years old. T L Huetson, the historian and bobbin collector notes that the dates on the inscribed bobbins in his collection range from 1797 to 1879; well before the start of compulsory education. Bobbin makers would have learned how to spell the simple phrases on common bobbins such as Dear Mother, I love you, and common Christian names but even then I have seen Louisa spelled as Lueza and Charlotte as Charlot. Certainly phrases like those in the bobbins in the image would have been more complicated. However, even with their inventive spelling ‘Wright my altard true love’ [write my altered true love] and ‘Love dont be falces’ [Love don’t be false] convey the message the lacemaker intended. As do ‘Absent makes the hart groe fonder’ [Absence makes the heart grow fonder] and ‘My hart hakes for you’ [My heart aches for you]. Falces or falcs for false, and hart for heart were common alternative spellings throughout the period. Research by the Springetts suggests that the man known as Bobbin Brown of Cranfield, who was working in the 1840s and into the 1860s, was a poor speller and indeed the two bobbins illustrating this post are his work, however they concede that although his spelling was poor his lettering was very neat.

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