18th Century Carved and Dated Wooden Busk


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18th Century Carved and Dated Wooden Busk – A busk is a rigid element of bone, wood or metal, placed in the center of a corset, bodice or stay; it was intended to keep the front of a lady’s corset or bodice straight and upright. There were one- and two-part busks; single-piece busks were used in “stays” and bodices from the sixteenth to early nineteenth centuries. Busks from this period were typically made of woodivory, or bone; they were slipped into a pocket in the garment and tied in place with twine or lace. Many busks were decoratively carved or inscribed with messages and became popular gifts from men to women during courtship. Women occasionally gave male suitors their busks as highly intimate tokens of affection.

This late 18th century wooden busk is decoratively carved in a fancy, checkered pattern, on one side and dated and initialed on the opposite side. Two carved slots are present in the top of the busk to assist in its placement in the garment pocket; a short length of original twine remains threaded through one of the carved slots. Carved on one side of the busk is the following:




We presume that the upper set of initials represent the lady who owned and wore the busk and presented it to her male friend, as represented by the lower, second set of initials, in the year 1784. The busk remains in excellent condition.

Measurements: Length – 13.25”; Width – 2.25”