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Sailmaker’s Hand Protector

Curated Submission
Abercrombie, Nova Scotia, Canada
Circa 1900
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
12.5 x 5
Materials & techniques
Leather, linen; Hand-sewn
Gift of Judy Dunbar
Textile Museum of Canada T01.10.2
Reuben William Wooden (1848–1930) from Abercrombie, Nova Scotia, used this hand protector for sewing and maintaining sails. He learned these skills from his father, Captain William Richard Wooden (1811–1896), who sailed a four-masted schooner delivering coal from the Abercrombie loading dock to many parts of the world. His wife, as was customary in that time, accompanied him on these trips, staying on land only to deliver a baby. Reuben William was one of twelve siblings; he learned sail sewing and patching in his early childhood.
The protector was an indispensable tool when making and mending sails. Handmade from leather, hardy and flexible at the same time, it protected the palm from an accidental needle slip; small hollows arranged in a thimble-like circle beside the thumb hole made it easier to push the needle through the cloth. This kind of tool made of new materials is still used by sailors today.
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