Antique Treen Stay Busks - what are they?

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.

The first recorded dated one is around 1660 and then there seemed to be a revival of the stay busk about 100 years later. Described by Pinto as being "V

ery Rare"

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