Whale bones in women's underwear


Over at Collectors Weekly, Lisa Hix unbuttons the history of the scrimshaw busks, intricately carved whalebones that 19th century sailors would give their lovers to wear in their corsets as a reminder of their men at sea. From Collectors Weekly:


Scrimshaw busks would be engraved with all sorts of symbolic images: A palm frond might indicate a place the whaleman had sailed to, while a North Star would assure the woman that her man would be guided home. Wheat stalks stood for abundance, houses meant security and comfort, and a church indicated plans for marriage. All of these hopes and dreams would be pressing into her torso throughout the day.

"From Whale Jaws to Corsets: How Sailors' Love Tokens Got Into Women's Underwear"