Olde Tyme Arts and Crafts

Historical Craft Kits~Art~Handmade Crafts~Books

 

Information obtained from:
Elizabeth H. Joyner ,Museum Curator
Vicksburg National Military Park


Vicksburg National Military Park has several of the wooden toothbrushes that were discovered aboard the Civil War ironclad, U.S.S. Cairo. To my knowledge none of the toothbrushes have retained their bristles.  The manufacturer of the toothbrushes is also unknown. Unfortunately, I know very little about the toothbrushes.  Metal sewing needles and thread were also found aboard Cairo.  
 
I am including a description of a couple of the toothbrushes as-well-as a description of a metal sewing needle also recovered from Cairo and in the museum collection for your information.
 
 
TOOTHBRUSH VICKC 351
 
WOODEN. HANDLE EDGES AND TOP ROUNDED. HEAD HAS ANGULAR EDGES. HANDLE NARROWS TOWARD END. BACK IS CURVED UPWARD (WARPED?) UNEVEN BROWN PAINT, SOME WORN OFF. HAS SHINY FINISH. NARROW NECK. HEAD HAS 4 ROWS OF TINY HOLES (22 HOLES PER ROW) TO HOLD BRISTLES. NO BRISTLES EXTANT. HEAD NARROWS AT ROUNDED TOP.
 
TOOTHBRUSH VICKC 1027
 
WOODEN TOOTHBRUSH.  HANDLE EDGES AND TOP ARE ROUNDED.  THE HANDLE IS ARCHED SOMEWHAT AND FLATTENS TOWARD THE END.  THE NECK IS NARROW.  THE HEAD NARROWS TOWARD THE TOP, WHICH IS ROUNDED.  HEAD HAS 4 ROWS OF TINY HOLES TO HOLD BRISTLES.  NO BRISTLES EXTANT.  MEDIUM DULL BROWN COLOR, FAINT SHINE.  HANDLE HAS SEVERAL SPLITS ON EACH SIDE.  BROKEN IN TWO AT THE NECK.  THE BACK OF THE HEAD IS SPLIT, PIECES BROKEN OFF.
 

SEWING NEEDLE VICKC 481

 

LARGE NEEDLE MADE OF FERROUS METAL. AT THE TOP THE NEEDLE HAS TWO SIDES. THE MAIN PART HAS THREE FLAT SIDES. THESE SIDES TAPER GRADUALLY TO FORM A SHARP POINT.  RECTANGULAR EYE. IMPRINTED ON ONE SIDE IS “R. Schofield.”

 

The first image is of a wooden toothbrush and the second is of the metal sewing needle.

  






Toothbrush c 1862
Miraculously, wooden toothbrushes survived, albeit without their bristles, even after having rested on the bottom of the Yazoo River for over 100 years. Wood. L 15.4; W 1,3 cm
Vicksburg National Military Park, U.S.S. Cairo Museum, VICKC 1027



Sewing Notions
Cairo Sailors were responsible for mending their own uniforms. They carried sewing kits called “housewives.”  These kits usually contained small scissors, pins, needles, linen thread, spare buttons and thimbles
.

You may also wish to visit the museums virtual exhibit at:  www.nps.gov/vick and click on the blue "Cairo" icon.

Also review  an article, "Digging up the Past",  from the Smithsonian Magazine's staff writer Abigail  Tucker.



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