Meanwhile, in 1605

No pictures this time, I’m afraid I don’t have permission to publish them. I’ve managed to track down the shoe horn Robert Mindum made for Briget Dearsley in 1605. It wasn’t all that difficult, it is still in the same place Joan Evans reported it being in 1944.

…and in the following year [1605] one now in the Saffron Walden Museum, with the usual scale work and scroll bands and crowned rose. … Its ornament is almost identical to the latest Mindum piece known to me which is dated 1612.

The Burlington Magazine, November 1944, ‘Shoe Horns and a Powder Flask by Robert Mindum’, Joan Evans

I’m afraid I can only agree with Ms Evans’ last sentence in so far that it is horn shaped and both feature crowned Tudor roses.

The Society of Antiquaries reported the same horn as:

Another, in the Saffron Walden Museum, is inscribed round the edge, “Robart Mindum made this shooing-horn for Bridget Dearsley, 1605.” The decorations are carried out in dots and incised lines, into which some dark substance has been worked. The crowned Tudor rose is the principal ornament employed in the last specimen.

Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Second Series, vol. vii. pp. 121-2 (1877)

The 1612 horn is pictured on the Museum of Design in Plastic’s website here. I’ll do my best to describe the photos, with reference to the designs on other horns.  The biggest surprise is the use of colour, almost all the stippling is a bright red colour. You can see it on the 1612 horn and similar use of colour is described on the 1598 horn on the Sotherby’s website, but unfortunately the quality of the photographs isn’t good enough to show it.

The inscription around the outside follows the usual form:


Between each word is a pair of parallel black lines with the space between them filled with red dots. Outside the inscription are two rows of facing triangles in black, with a small dot in red in the field between each four triangles. This arrangement does mirror the 1612 horn (see, I’m starting to disagree with myself already). There are two heavier solid lines either side of the inscription, then a row of hatching and another two black lines. These start from the triangle pattern that goes the whole width, about a third of the way up from the bottom. I will concede that this also matches the 1612 example. The cross encrusted crown is below a series of ten hatched leaves, much closer stylistically to the one he did in 1600 than to the 1612 shoe horn (ha! I said it was different!). Like on the 1612 one, the crown is outlined and filled with small red dots. Below the crown are two tendrils, outlined in black, filled with red dots and with the compass point mark also done in black. These features and the location and execution of the Tudor rose are similar to the ones on the 1612 horn.

Immediately below the rose is a series of upright triangles, with red dots evenly spaced between them, then two black lines, two lines of facing triangles with red dots similar to the outside edge and another two black lines. The next feature is a short three loop run of knotwork in black, filled with red dots. The closest match for this is again the Matthew Westfelde 1600 horn.

Next, we have the small tree, similar to John Gibson’s 1597 and the Westfelde 1600 example, but in this case only the top leaf has the diagonal hatching seen on those, the other six have a central rib in black and are filled with dots in red. Below the tree is a repeat of the lines/triangles/dots/triangles/lines pattern (hereinafter known as border pattern), then more knotwork, this time four loops like the 1597 sample and another repeat of the  border pattern.

Underneath that is a group of five rows of arches, looking vaguely like fish scales. The arches have two black lines over the top and are filled with red dots. This type of feature appears on almost all of Mindum’s horns but execution is different to  all the others. The closest  is Jane Ayre’s 1593 horn, but hers has hatching rather than the red dots. This is followed by more  border pattern, three hollow diamonds outlined in black, with a large black dot in the centre of each the the field between the diamonds filled with red dots. Another row of border pattern completes the design. Jane Ayre’s 1593 horn has a four-diamond version of this about a third of the way up.

The photographs are clear enough for the construction lines to be really clear, and the regularity and shine of both the small triangles and the cross on the crown leaves me thinking that they might have been burnt in with heated metal stamps rather than carved with a blade. More experimentation is obviously required.

I must thank the Saffron Walden Museum for supplying the very high quality photographs. If you contact the museum for your own copies, it’s accession number 1892.93.

One thought on “Meanwhile, in 1605

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.