I have never tried to prick parchment, so cannot speak from direct
observation, but one can get a sharp point on bone, so is it possible that
what we are seeing is worn down prickers that have got too short to handle
----- Original Message -----
From: "Clark, John" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, April 15, 2002 5:20 PM
Subject: Re: Parchment prickers?
> Maureen Taylor writes:
> >I make bobbin lace, and one of the instruments I use is known as a
> lacemakers pricker or pricking tool. Today these have a small wooden
> (often only about 3" long, but can be longer) with a metal point - a pin
> needle - set into one end. This is used to create patterns of small holes
> pieces of card (cut to the required size), which are then pinned to the
> pillow to act as a guide for the lacemaker to follow when working on a
> of lace.<
> Pricking through a pattern to transfer a design is a technique used in a
> number of crafts, I think, and these so-called 'parchment prickers' would
> ideal for such a purpose; on the other hand, they are actually quite
> difficult to hold for writing with, if the 'stylus' identification is
> correct. (Like writing with the short stub of a pencil.)
> However, one might then ask
> 1: if they are specialist craft tools, why are they so common?
> 2: and why do they turn up in large numbers on monastic sites (eg Battle
> 3: and why, when the metal point drops out, have they sometimes been
> roughly sharpened? - this rough bone point would NOT pierce parchment, but
> would be quite adequate for writing on a wax tablet.
> Some while ago I changed the computer records of 41 of these objects in
> Museum of London from 'parchment pricker' to 'stylus'. If someone comes
> with a definitive identification I'll change them again!
> John Clark
> Curator (Medieval)
> Museum of London