I’ve been rather amused that my mudlarking to date has been quite’ gendered’, no digging or getting dirty for me. Only finding and probably looking for pottery, quintessential domestic remains. The boys on the foreshore invariably have their detectors, I assume metal their primary interest, coins, tokens, buttons, keys, buckles, musket balls, canon balls and badges.
Scanning my selected patch I found my first metal find – pins – a wry smile about their domestic origins. I’d seen the guys on Mudmen uncovering pins on the foreshore, so I was half looking for these and there they were, not exactly in their hundreds but quite numerous.
|17th ? Century Pins found Mudlarking on the Thames Foreshore|
|16th Century Pinner's Bone with grooves at top where pins were laid for sharpening, from Portable Antiquities Scheme|
Ordinary people would have a small number of pins, the wealthy thousands. Janet Arnold documents the pin purchases from Elizabetht I over 6 months
"Item to Roberts Careles our Pynner for xviij  thousand great verthingale Pynnes xx  thowsand great Velvet Pynnes and nyne thowsande smale hed Pynnes and xix  thowsand Small hed Pynnes all of our great warderobe"
Pins were carefully looked after and sharpened periodically. They were extracted after use so as not to tarnish the fabric and placed in a pincushion. The portrait of Countess of Southampton shows her pincushion on the dressing table.
Countess of Southampton's Dressing Table with Pin Cushion 1590. From It's About Time