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Antique 'Straw Splitter' dated around 1820 Ref. MA1c

Antique 'Straw Splitter' dated around 1820 Ref. MA1c

1 was available / Secondhand
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Joined 11 Aug 2012
bidorbuy ID: 257111110

 Antique 'Straw Splitter' dated around 1820 Ref. MA1c

The practice of "Straw Art" or wheat weaving is very old and its history is truly lost in the mists of time.  One of the most typical objects made by Straw Art was undoubtedly the "Corn Dolly"   It was a Pagan Custom, and,  in medieval England, it was  the corn spirit, Demeter, who was  worshiped.  Corn Dollies were made from the cutting of the final sheath of wheat (or barley or oats). These  dollies were plaited into special shapes or kept in particular locations and were  often buried, together with seed, at the beginning of the new season. In this way, the Corn Spirit was supposed to be reborn and would ensue good crops for the following year . There were rhymes and songs to accompany the cutting of the final sheaf and a procession to the barn. Harvest feasts often followed completion of the harvest.  

Farmers' wives, however, soon created other objects out of straw.  Hats, bee hives, decorative mats , baskets and rope  to tie sheaves of grain soon made their appearance.

At a time when the average agricultural wage was between 10s and 12s a week, straw plaiting wives could earn appreciably more than their husbands and children’s contributions to the family income were considerable. 

However, during the early 18th century and right through to the late 1890's very decorative and ornamental pieces made their appearance, apart from hats. Bags, covers for books, mats, pictures, etc. were in great demand, all due to the fine work which could now be accomplished by the use of the Straw Splitter.

Typical examples of 'Straw Work" around 1800-1850



During the late 1700's, Straw Splitters made of wood and bone were introduced. This small instrument was used to split the straw into thin lengths, making it easier to use and also to create much finer work. It is unclear where they evolved or who was responsible for the idea. However, within a few years, after 1800, the first metal spitters were being produced. It was much easier to manufacture splitters from metal to meet  the growing demand  required by fashion at that time. They were made by blacksmiths and every one was hand forged.  No two were ever alike.  Some of the  stem splitters’ handles are 3 or so inches in length, while others could reach 8 inches or more in length.  It dependent upon the blacksmith.    Most metal splitters were very plain, just the roughly polished metal handle such as the examples on offer.

The Straw Splitter offered above, were uncovered by metal detecting in the dirt floor of a ancient barn in England. Manufactured from brass and protected from the elements, this possibly explains the reason why they remain in pretty good condition. It would also have been a lot easier for the blacksmith to make the splitters in brass as the small thin pointed ends would have been difficult to execute in iron.

The Straw splitter above measuring roughly 58mm long and 7mm in diameter. 

Dating them is difficult but I would suggest that they are from the early 1810's to 1820's.

Please note, I am NOT a qualified archaeologist/antiquarian and the description I have given is based on research of the subject.

This is a genuine antique. Please remember the classification of an 'antique' is that it should be 100 years old, OR MORE. There are many articles being offered as 'antiques' when, clearly, they are not.

Price R150.00

Post R25.00


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