Whale bones in women's underwear


I wondered why these things are shaped like that. I have a few I picked up from trash or yard sales somewhere.

Thanks, @pesco!

All in all, I’d have preferred a Nantucket Sleigh-ride…In the parlance of the times.

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As a side note, “stays” is the term both for a whalebone-stiffened undergarment and the standing rigging that supports the masts on a sailing vessel.


Help! I’ve fallen into a problematic, and I can’t get out!

Still less troubling than finding women’s underwear in whale bones.

That’s lovely! I knew the corsets had whalebone stays, but I’ve never heard they were engraved, and wearing your lover’s scrimshaw under your clothing is pretty hot.

In the mid-19th century, corsets also changed, and metal was used for the boning instead of whale parts: Busks were now made with two long pieces of steel with hook-and-eye fastenings, which made dressing and undressing much easier for women. The spoon busk, invented in 1879, gave the steel busk a wide dish at the bottom for greater control of the belly. No longer would a hand-engraved baleen or whale ivory busk be a sexy, romantic gift. In the 1920s, corsets were replaced with boning-free elastic girdles.

But baleen stays (which couldn’t be removed, and hence were unsuitable for carving, as they couldn’t be looked at) continued to be used until the 20th century.

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