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S/4546 Antique American 19th Century Love Token Baleen Stay Busk

An exceptionally fine love token baleen (whale bone) stay busk initialled N.S. and signed on the reverse Chas Neily and dated 1842. The comprehensive incised full length decoration, comprises of wheat ears above the capital initials N.S., a full rigged ship with seagulls, a building, an eye (all seeing), a star and at the bottom, some stars and stripes, probably depicting the American flag. The whole is surrounded by a delicate chip carved edge. On careful examination we can see the faint remains of red coloured pigments.

Stay busks were used from the mid 17th century to the middle of the 19th century. They were mostly made of wood and were inserted into the front opening of a lady's corset, stiffening it and permitting the lady to be tightly laced. This example of a stay busk was undoubtedly carved by a seaman as a love token while serving on a whaling ship. It is a serious collector's item.

Sold 1 in. (4.5 cm.) Wide
11 in. (29 cm,.) High
American Circa 1842