Sunday, January 13, 2013

Unusual Artifacts: A Clamp Pincushion, 1850

Pin Cushion and Clamp of Holly, 1950
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This ingenious clamp was employed to hold a piece of fabric firmly to a table so that it could then be held taut while it was sewn by hand. The top of the clamp has cleverly been fitted with a pin cushion.

Prior to the widespread use of sewing machines, all clothes and household linen were hand-sewn.  The use of clamps was essential in making the process more efficient. Like most Nineteenth Century household items, this clamp and pincushion from 1850 was made attractive to give pleasure to the user and to add beauty to the home.  It is adorned with animal paws forming the grips of the clamp.

Such an object would have also served as a suitable love token since preparations for marriage included substantial amounts of sewing, both for the bride’s trousseau and for future household linen.

This example is made of holly wood, a rather rare material for such an object.

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