Archive for January, 2012

Old York benefactress Miss Elizabeth Bishop Perkins traveled to every continent except Australia in the late 19th-mid 20th centuries. Among the fascinating souvenirs she brought back to York is this bronze dragon pendant which encases a tiger’s claw.

The claw may be from the Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti), also called Corbett’s tiger, which is found in Cambodia (Kampuchia), China, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Vietnam. The pendant’s style suggests that is was probably from Miss Perkins’ travels to Cambodia (ca. 1905-1922). Tiger claws were worn in Asia to ward off evil spirits. Tiger claw jewelry became popular in Europe after Queen Victoria became the Empress of India in 1876.


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Found in Elizabeth Bishop Perkins’ (1869-1952) jewelry box (H.1992.161) these are prayer beads. Known as a “mala”, such beads are used by Hindus and Buddhists to help track of counting while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra. The large main bead, called the Guru bead, symbolizes the Guru from whom one has received the mantra. Many Tibetan Buddhists have a bell and dorje placed at different points on the mala depending on tradition, sometimes at the 25th bead from the Guru bead, like in this example.

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The object is part of Museums of Old York’s Exhibit, “The Country Heer is Plentiful: Trade, Religion and Warfare in York and Southern Maine.”

Crampons were attached to the bottoms of shoes to assist walking in icy conditions. The shorter spikes indicate that they were made for wearing with a moccasin which did not have a built-up heel. A longer spike would have better suited a European-heeled shoe. The flattened crossbar reduced snow/ice build-up, protected the soft moccasin leather and prevented fatigue with prolonged use.

They are similar in style and purpose to the crampons used on modern snowshoes or yak tracks!

Crampon (L.2010.16)

Loan of Mr. Kenneth Hamilton

This is the view from the top:

This is the view from the bottom.

Hint: It is particularly useful on a snowy day like today!

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These are from the Museums of Old York’s current exhibit, “The Country Heer is Plentiful.” Trade, Religion and Warfare in York and Southern Maine from 1631-1745.

During the 17th and 18th centuries the wealthy cut their hair short and wore wigs. The curls of a wig were set by rolling locks of the hair with strips of damp paper around the clay curlers. The weight of the heavy clay pulled the hair downward against the block on which the wig sat. The wig and block were then placed into an oven to set the curls.

These curlers date from 1690-1740. The basic understanding of the evolution of the wig curler stems almost entirely from archaeological research.

Set of Wig Curlers (L.2011.1.9) Loan of Mr. Hollis Brodrick

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