A Fine c.1810 Miniature Marine Ivory Scrimshaw Sailors Love Token Stay Busk


Origin: English
Period: Early Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1800-1820
Width: 1.25 inches
Length: 5.25 inches

The miniature elongated heart shape stay busk, finely incised with pigmented engraving in five sections depicting a standing couple, ship, solider with musket, gentleman and five-masted galleon.

Attractively designed and wonderfully tactile, the condition of this well proportioned example is excellent with no cracks or chips to the ivory.

The stay busk is a single stiff wooden or ivory busk that was inserted into a pocket down the closed center front of a ladies corset for support. Stay busks of this period are more common in treen and whalebone.

Presented to young ladies by their sweethearts and beautifully decorated, busks were often given as a love token. Probably created on a New England whaling ship this busk features images drawn from the creator's imagination with the sharpened point of a canvas sail needle and its creation would have helped pass the long hours at sea. This busk would have dovetailed with the divorce corset, appearing in the 1810s, so-called because it separates the breasts for the first time in centuries.

A fine example of its kind and in superb condition, this is both a beautiful example of Georgian romantic gesture and erotically charged maritime themed scrimshaw artwork.