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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Jun, 2010 2:01 pm    Post subject: Pricker handle shapes         Reply with quote

Hey folks,
I was wondering about typical handle shapes on prickers. Generally, you see a roughly symmetrical handle, not an ergonomic shaped one like you see on some knives. Was this the only form?

I ask at least partially, because I bought this set, which as you can see has a shaped handle on the pricker.



I know the taper of the pricker itself isn't typical as most I've seen tend to taper evenly to the tip. This one is more like a sharpened cylinder.

What about the handle shape?

Happy

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Jun, 2010 2:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't know much about them but I like the shape of the handle and if the wider ( bulbus ) end of the handle is set in the palm of the hand it should give good control when pushing the pricker into something hard to pierce.

I assume the prickers would serve many functions like holding down a piece of meat like a fork when cutting one's food, picking up chunks of cheese or bread etc .....

Might also be general purpose tool if one needed a new hole in one's belt or open up a small hole to put in a lace ?
Using it as a marlin spike to help untie knots ?

I guess in a pinch it might do service as a very thin rondel easy to slip through a single link of maille although it wouldn't be more than rare emergency usage if noting better was available ?

The handle shape of the knife is nice and functional and as a set it makes sense for the pricker's to echo the one of the knife.

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Jun, 2010 4:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is actually a very typical "strip tang" knife. I have seen (did not save a book mark) a whole photo collection of medieval era knifes, many of which were fairly similar. Here is one currently for sale. http://www.time-lines.co.uk/medieval-strip-ta...993-0.html
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Jun, 2010 4:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
That is actually a very typical "strip tang" knife. I have seen (did not save a book mark) a whole photo collection of medieval era knifes, many of which were fairly similar. Here is one currently for sale. http://www.time-lines.co.uk/medieval-strip-ta...993-0.html


I know the shape of the knife handle works; the Museum of London's Knives and Scabbards shows a number with that handle shape. Happy I'm more curious if the matching shape of the pricker handle has historical precedent.

Happy

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PostPosted: Fri 18 Jun, 2010 4:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have not seen that many "prickers" offered or in collections. But, if we could assume that some were made as sets, I don't know of any reason to doubt that a very common handle style would have been used on both. Yet another modern interpretation that is similar http://www.nmia.com/~bohemond/Bootshop/knife-...ricker.htm
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Jun, 2010 6:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
Yet another modern interpretation that is similar http://www.nmia.com/~bohemond/Bootshop/knife-...ricker.htm


That's the same set I have, just with grips of wood. Happy That seller offers those sets gripped in wood, horn, or bone.

Happy

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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jun, 2010 12:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote
Quote:
I was wondering about typical handle shapes on prickers. Generally, you see a roughly symmetrical handle, not an ergonomic shaped one like you see on some knives. Was this the only form?


Prickers are slightly tricky in the historical records as there are not that many identified as such. Many similar objects are listed as steels so it is a little difficult to work out which items were prickers and which were steels, or perhaps even both?

That said the set shown has a very large and substantial pricker, more like the modern thought as to what size object should accompany a knife ie the designer has treated the pricker in this set as if it were a modern 4 tine fork and made the same size as that. In reality they were usually quite diminutive and the handles also so, so quite slim and often quite short and usually with symmetrical (ish) handles.

A famous example that easily comes to mind is that shown on the Wallace bollock dagger set which I would say is fairly typical of the proportions of prickers, but note that it is actually quite a large object and breaks the 'usually' statement above.

I think as prickers went out of fashion and 2 and 3 tine forks came in, handles of this shape became more common, but then they were generally of whittle tang construction rather than scale tang.

As to whether the 'roughly symmetrical' was the only form then I would say certainly not; the more you look at historical pieces the more you see how standardised most were, but also how off the wall others could be, but I think it was the only 'standardised' form.

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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jun, 2010 6:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most surviving prickers were not for dining, but for making books. (Cleaning up the ink.) I am wondering if there is a surviving dining set which shows a dining pricker as being comparatively small?
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jun, 2010 8:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:

That said the set shown has a very large and substantial pricker, more like the modern thought as to what size object should accompany a knife ie the designer has treated the pricker in this set as if it were a modern 4 tine fork and made the same size as that. In reality they were usually quite diminutive and the handles also so, so quite slim and often quite short and usually with symmetrical (ish) handles.


Tod,
The pricker is about 8 inches in total length. So it's on the big side. Happy

Happy

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jun, 2010 6:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
Most surviving prickers were not for dining, but for making books. (Cleaning up the ink.) I am wondering if there is a surviving dining set which shows a dining pricker as being comparatively small?


Interesting. I'd not heard that explanation. Where did you get that info?

I've heard of it being a single-tined fork, an awl, and a steel for honing the blade, but not of it being used for book-binding. I've seen tools with very specific purposes housed in their own scabbards/cases, not put with other daggers/knives for more general use.

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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jun, 2010 1:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For sake of illustration, Arms and Armor shows a reproduction they made of the Wallace set on their custom page. No scale shown but a nice representation of that particular piece, Chad.
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jun, 2010 2:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:


Interesting. I'd not heard that explanation. Where did you get that info?



If you do searches under the phrase "pricker", "scribe", archeology and such the majority of what you will find being discussed is similar to what is in this article. http://www.le.ac.uk/lahs/downloads/ClayvolumeLXV-2sm.pdf Technically, a scribe's use of this implement (scribing feint lines, and punching, as well as use of the compass or circinus named after the constellation) was so exhaustive that the profession appears to have been named after what it was used for.

A lot of what are commonly called "prickers" are specific to scribe work. Normally, the metal points are all small needle sized objects mounted in some sort of a round handle. Honestly, I never heard variants of forks, awls, and skewers for dining referred to as a "pricker" except in reenactment or reproduction offerings. I am wondering if the term has any historical context for dining?



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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jun, 2010 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

GG Osborne wrote:
For sake of illustration, Arms and Armor shows a reproduction they made of the Wallace set on their custom page. No scale shown but a nice representation of that particular piece, Chad.


I've seen that. Thanks!

Happy

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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jun, 2010 5:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith Wrote
Quote:
If you do searches under the phrase "pricker", "scribe", archeology and such the majority of what you will find being discussed is similar to what is in this article. http://www.le.ac.uk/lahs/downloads/ClayvolumeLXV-2sm.pdf Technically, a scribe's use of this implement (scribing feint lines, and punching, as well as use of the compass or circinus named after the constellation) was so exhaustive that the profession appears to have been named after what it was used for.


Jared is exactly right in identifying this object as a parchment pricker, they are used for putting feint markings onto the parchment for laying out purposes, such as marking lines and sizes of illuminated letters, without 'bold' marking using lead etc. They are however nothing to do with cutlery prickers, it is simply that they share the name; the two items are distinctly different tools.

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