A 17th-century Shavehorse?

Habit de Tonnellier

While up in the Boston area last week, Peter Follansbee, the joiner at Plimoth Plantation, commented on the lack of images of shavehorses from the 17th century.

That kind of question mark interests me.

Earlier I had stumbled on some engravings of people whose body parts were the tools and materials they worked with. The print, Habit de Menuisier Ebeniste, showed a cabinetmaker made from his tools.

Jeff Burks (naturally) turned up the plate shown above and several more that were similar. This one shows a cooper with a shavehorse at his feet. Here’s what Burks says about the artist and what is known about the plate:

These were by Nicolas de Larmessin II (printmaker; French; c.1645 – 1725). Engraver; brother of Nicolas de Larmessin I. Father of Nicolas III. Worked most of his career for his elder brother, and later his widow. Seems to have published little himself.

The dates attributed to these engravings vary from 1690-1700 and beyond. I don’t think anybody really has a concrete date for them. It also appears that they also don’t agree about how many were in the original set. Some say 77, some say 97, and there were copycat artists who came after, plus reprints of the originals, sometimes hand-colored.

The image is from Gallica. And we will keep looking.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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6 Responses to A 17th-century Shavehorse?

  1. bdormer says:

    I have made all my clothing out of wood. I find it quite agreeable, except for the occasional splinter in my undergarments. And termites.

  2. pfollansbee says:

    Ahh…you didn’t forget! Maybe just under the wire, at 1690s…I look forward to hearing & seeing more. I’ve been meaning to dig out what I have thus far, it ain’t much.

  3. What are the odds: this morning I listened to this old CD from my collection (first time in years): http://image2.archambault.ca/1/C/6/F/ACH000116476.1332273125.580×580.jpg. Thanks to your post on the same day, I just found that the cover art, which always amazed me, is from the same artist.

    Here’s a nice collection of 64 other drawings (out of 97 in the series): http://www.laboiteverte.fr/costumes-grotesques-et-metiers-de-nicolas-de-larmessin/

    • Jeff Burks says:

      The highest quality gallery of Larmessin prints is available at bibliotheque des arts decoratifs – http://tinyurl.com/ob4td5a

      For some reason this web interface does not work fully with Google Chrome. I have had success viewing the high resolution images in the Firefox web browser.

  4. Here’s a 16th century shavehorse (from a German tradebook)
    I don’t have an image handy, but there’s a clearly illustrated shave horse in De Re Metallica, c. 1556.
    Hope this helps!

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