Archive for October, 2012

This week’s mystery object is a busk! A busk  is a piece of corset hardware placed into the center front of a corset and in theory allows the wearer to get into and out of the corset without having to completely undo the laces. However, this only works if the laces are not pulled very tight. They also helped to make the front of the corset straight and ridged. Elaborately carved busks like this one were a common gift from a young man to his sweetheart. They can be carved from wood or whalebone (so the guess about scrimshaw wasn’t too far off!)

The reverse side has one bar of music carved into it.

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This week’s mystery object is not only a pie crimper but a great piece of folk art! This was a part of a generous gift to the Museums of Old York of scrimshaw by Mrs. Leland Lusty. 


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Mystery object #1: Creamware, ca. 1790

Mystery object #2: Mochaware, ca. 1830

The techinque of using small containers with perforated openings for food items used in small volumes goes back several centuries. Substances like salt, sugar, and pepper were also expensive, so storing them in a shaker kept them protected and reduced waste. These were also referred to as sugar casters and muffineers. The word “muffineer” appears to go back to the early 1800s to specifically describe a container that held powdered sugar.

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(The  mystery object on the left is shown upsidedown; note the two feet)

These small open containers were used to serve salt on dining tables until about WWII. Individuals served themselves salt with minature spoons. Saltcellars have been replaced by the more familiar salt shaker.

Question: What are these objects used for?

Hint: They are only found on the dinner table!

(View of one in a set of two from the top)

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