A really nice Folk Art oak stay busk. It's very similar to one in the Shepherd's collection. It is made from oak and carved on the front Mary Jay 177 V11. the carver has carved in place of the number 7 the roman numerals VII. Good colour and patina .
There is a small repair to the top corner above the M.
It measures 23.5cm l x 3.8cm w.
Corsets were called stays prior to 1830 and antique treen stay busks were flat pieces of wood,( could also be made from horn, ivory, metal, baleen or other materials), which were inserted into long pockets at the front of the stay/corset. Many were undecorated and were purely functional to flatten the stomach of the person wearing it. They must have been fairly uncomfortable - difficult to bend down!
Some antique treen stay busks were carved and were given as a love token in England, similar to the Welsh Lovespoon in Wales. The decorated ones were inserted into small pockets at the top and the bottom of the front of the bodice. That were decorated with geometric patterns, chip carved decoration, hearts. Sometimes there was a message carved or a date on the back of the treen busk.