Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's a...a...what is it, anyway?

Do you know what this is?

It’s eight inches long and two inches wide at the open end. It’s made out of bone or ivory, with a spring hinge made of metal. As you can see from the photos, the handles are meant to be squeezed together in order for it to do its job, which is…what?

Hint number one…it was found on every lady’s dressing table in the nineteenth century.

Hint number two...it is not a pair of beginner's chopsticks.

Want to venture a guess as to what this item was used for? Send me your guesses in the comments column now through Monday evening, January 7. I’ll check in over the next week to drop more hints in case you're struggling. All correct guessers will be entered in a drawing to receive an advance reading copy of Bewitching Season, so if you send in a guess, be sure to check back just in case I need to get your mailing address.

Have fun! And Happy 2008 to all of you.


29 comments:

literaticat said...

Hair curling tongs?

Juliarts said...

I'm with literaticat - hair curling tongs!

June said...

Is it used for helping button up their dresses??

Gina Black said...

I'm guessing hair curling too. Like holding pin curls to the head while they dry? (Is that hair curling tongs?)

Lauren said...

I'm going with a hair pin of some sort.

doglady said...

I have to agree that it has to do with curling the hair in those impossible hairstyles of the period. Cool site, by the way. I am an aspiring writer who has just finished my first Regency romance. Looking forward to reading the work of the writers on this site!

Deb Logan said...

Definitely some form of hair clip...I think...

deb said...

A hair clip--to hold their hair in place for that nice top of the head "pile"?

fabulousfrock said...

I'm guessing hair curling tongs, too, because I have some old metal ones and the basic shape is very similar. (Although I think they're a little more blunt.)

Sindee said...

I was thinking it's a hair curling tong too.

CharG said...

I think it was used to invert and/or stretch the fingers of gloves.

Sara Lindsey said...

That's a glove stretcher. Glad to know all those costume history books I read for fun finally came in handy!

Clover said...

Glove stretcher sounds good, but my first guess is something to undo tight laces on the bodice with.

Karen said...

I think it's something ladies would stick into their hair to help those elaborate hairstyles stay in place.

I'd love to read BEWITCHING SEASON, so I'm crossing my fingers and toes!

Anonymous said...

I think is used as a clip for the hair.

Michelle

Anonymous said...

It's a glove stretcher all right. And if you've ever seen how impossibly narrow unworn kid gloves are (you can sometimes find them in antique markets) you can understand how you'd need a stretcher before you could even start putting them on.
I remember reading somewhere that it could take 15 minutes to work your hands into a new pair of gloves. Of course tight gloves do look very elegant.

Ingrid

Anonymous said...

I would say it's a hair clip. They used to pull their hair back into intricate curls and this would be used to keep them in place.

Donna

dancingdeb said...

Hair clip or some such sort would be my guess.

DianaGroe aka Emily Bryan said...

I think I'll skip my first inclination. It sort of reminded me of my last gynecological exam (blush!), but if it was on every lady's dressing table, that can't be right.

Then I thought maybe the glove answer was right, but if it has to be closed to do its job, that wouldn't make sense. You'd have to open it to stretch the gloves and two inches is far too wide for my 21st century fingers. It would really be too big for the dainty hands of a 19th century miss.

You need heat to make hair curl and ivory is not a good choice for something that must be reheated, so the hair curler is out.

It must have something to do with lacing. And that's my final answer.:)

The Page Flipper said...

I thought it was chopsticks at first. But with your clue, I'm guessing a hair clip of some kind!

Scarlet said...

i think it's a hairclip of some sort...but i dunno

Jenny Meyerhoff said...

I'm going to go with glove stretcher, but I never would have thougth of it on my own. The previous posters have just sold me on it!

Elaine Alexander said...

It's a hat pin!?

The Story Siren said...

that was a hard one! and it took me forever to finally find what it was! it is a glove stretcher, i believe. i finally found a picute of one on the powerhouse museum site at the following link....
http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/search_tags.php?tag=victorian+style

A Page Turner Book Reviews said...

Glove stretcher.

sheila328 said...

Of course I know what it is: a glove stretcher. I have one (it was my grandmother's). It's useful if your good leather gloves get wet.

LynnR said...

Well, it's too plain and unadorned to be a decorative hair clip. And bone isn't going to work for a hair curler, since it would need to be heated. I'm going with glove stretcher.

robinoh said...

maybe it was for inserting or removing whalebone stays from a corset? robinoh

Justjann said...

I have an identical one sitting on my dresser. Passed down to me from my great-grandmother. A note attached reads, "GLOVE STRETCHER."