Elizabethan Objects

A razor

Here is a brown leather covered case with two compartments. It is sized to hold a steel razor with bone handle Two steel rivets hold the handle together and form swivel point. Scratched on the handle is the date ‘1604’, the name ‘Josh Cols’ and the number ‘2’. 

Most men were regular visitors to their local barber-surgeon. As the name suggests, barber-surgeons offered two different kinds of services: the first, the usual hair-cutting, beard-trimming or shaving; the second, the more medically-inclined procedures such as blood-letting, teeth-pulling or treating of wounds.  

A Sweet Bag

 This bag or purse is made of silk satin. It is embroidered with foliage detail in vibrant yellows and greens, with silver spangles enhancing the border and background, and it is edged with tassels, two of which are acorn shaped. A long, seven colour plaited drawstring and cord is attached to the top, which perhaps allowed for the bag to be carried around the wrist or hung about the person, for maximum display. The bag dates from the late sixteenth century. 

A high chair 

The chair is made of ash and probably dates between 1580 and 1640. Its decoration includes a crest of alternating pinnacles and buttons. 

A hat

This cap was discovered in an old house in East London. It is knitted with thick, reddish brown wool in stocking stitch. It has been felted, cut and re-sewn to make two overlapping brims, and blocked into its finished form. Excavations of late medieval and Renaissance artefacts have revealed a large number of similar caps. They were an important item of everyday clothing and are mentioned in a law called the Cappers Act of 1571. This decreed the type of headgear that every English resident over the age of six and below the rank of ‘gentleman’ should wear on Sundays and holidays. It specified ‘a cap of wool, thickened and dressed in England, made within this realm and only dressed and finished by some of the trade of cappers, upon pain to forfeit for every day of not wearing 3s. 4d’. The aim of this Act of Parliament was to protect the trade of cap-making.

A tobacco pipe

Clay tobacco pipe, found in London, 1600s. 

Tobacco became fashionable in England in the 1570s. Clay tobacco pipes were the easiest way to smoke it. They were inexpensive and popular but easily broken. Shredded tobacco would have been placed in the bowl of the pipe and lit, and the smoke inhaled through the mouthpiece. When tobacco was first introduced it was expensive so this meant that pipe bowls were quite small. Tobacco became more available and cheaper as more and more tobacco plantations were established in the United States. Smokers could soon afford extra tobacco and so the bowls of the pipes became progressively larger.