Canes and Corsets

13Apr16

0vin sunday (2) 1_governess (2) 2 indigo3 20060914_180015_preuss02 20061220_213544_nell004Whilst reviewing my extensive files culled from every corner of the Internet over the last decade I found some snippets that I don’t think I have used before. A bit of a filler I know, but I did dig up some fresh research to compliment them.

As you probably know a whale bone corset uses not bone but keratin filters from the whale’s mouth. These are thin pliable lengths that had a thousand and one uses during the 19th century as this advertisement from 1889 testifies.

Discerning Governesses, Ladies and Gentlemen – We sell the finest selection of whalebone canes and whip of all weights and sizes. We are suppliers of superior harsh and humane corrective tools. We specialise in the finer ladies rods.

These too were made from whale ‘teeth’ and not bones so it is interesting to note that the substance of the corsets and the whips so often brought so smartly to the same vicinity so to speak were made of the same stuff.

This explains this brief snippet:

Eugenie has been so troublesome since her coming out that the other evening while dressing I was forced to take up a loose rod from her stays and apply it where it would do the most good.

Tales from a grand house

The Englishwoman’s Magazine published a brief debate about the merits of the whalebone switch over the birch.

The (birch) rod is a cruel thing for a young lady and if overused it can draw (blood). Although these grazes are not serious they can be distasteful. I find that a good whalebone switch, the finest the better, will impart a great sting and can be used at length and with the upmost vigour without breaking the flesh. This is true even when applied to bare skin, indeed this is preferable as one must see the effects of the application and serves to humble the grown-up young ladies previously thinking they were above such treatment. After such an application one finds even the most recalcitrant have become agreeable.

The use of whalebone today is for obvious reasons unsuitable and many old canes and whips have been destroyed to ensure that there is no market for such things. But there is a cane and umbrella shop near Charring Cross that still has a dated advertisement for such items in gold lettering in the window.



3 Responses to “Canes and Corsets”

  1. Vintage on a Wednesday too, things just keep getting better 😀

  2. 2 George

    DD is today badly needed, more than ever. And must be fair and balanced, no more and no less than needed.

  3. 3 DJ

    Thanks guys 🙂


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