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"Manicure set"
For a long time, I have told people about the manicure sets that seem to be so common- such as this replica by Nodge Nolan from Armammentaria
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I have recently been lighting a replica Roman oil lamp, and found that I need to clean the lighted hole, get out the old wick etc. Turns out that the "manicure set" is ideal- a scoop for cleaning out debris, the forked end for trapping the wick and removing it, the tweezers for doing the same.

It struck me that plucking out hair (for example) would not be a daily thing, even for the most fastidious Roman. But cleaning and re-lighting oil lamps would be.

A question- have these items been misinterpreted? Or is there other proof for their use as a manicure set?


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aka Paul B, moderator
Moderation in all things
I´d think that it was like a Swiss knife: multi-use.
But I´ve got no idea :oops:
-This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how
sheep´s bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.
[Image: escudocopia.jpg]Iagoba Ferreira Benito, member of Cohors Prima Gallica
and current Medieval Martial Arts teacher of Comilitium Sacrae Ensis, fencing club.
Well, it could be a lamp kit type thing.

But I remember reading Romans were highly fond of plucking hair from the eyebrows, armpits, and down there for it was "barbaric" or something or other.

I dunno.
Nicholas De Oppresso Liber

[i]“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.â€
I think you've got a point Caballo. Food for thought at the very least.
TARBICvS/Jim Bowers
Imagine if someone's wife or husband got the lamp kit mixed up with the manicure kit.
Sara T.
RAT Rules for Posting

Courage is found in unlikely places. [size=75:2xx5no0x] ~J.R.R Tolkien[/size]
This is a Brooch known as a Chatelaine type,they are a native British device for keeping toilet articles together. They can be placed around the 2nd century AD,
Brian Stobbs
That's exactly what Caballo's questioning; is it for toilet tools? It might be the accepted description, but on what basis?
TARBICvS/Jim Bowers
Probably on the same accepted basis that the very small copper alloy flat sticks with a small depression on the end (who I've seen popping up in the scandinavian archaeological record from at least the 7th century, possibly earlier as well) are called "ear spoons" - someone made the interpretation once and it stuck. Or the "sausage pins" that we keep unearthing from food refuse all the time....people sure ate a lot of sausages in medieval scandinavia....or perhaps they used those wooden pins in the way we use forks? Big Grin
What would prove it for me would be if there were remains of ear wax or similar (!) on the set.

As far as I can see, the evidence seems to be that these manicure sets have been found with later female burials , and therefore are associated with manicure. Could just as easily been a symbol of good house-keeping- keep the home fires burning and all that.

Similar sets were found on Saxon sites such as West Stow. Were the Saxons as keen on manicure and hair plucking? Or were the "manicure sets" simply an essential tool for every house that had an oil lamp for light?
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aka Paul B, moderator
Moderation in all things
The book by Richard Hattatt "Brooches of Antiquity" is where this type of artifact is mentioned, some have a differing pattern to the one shown here which is a Geometric design. The other style is known as an Umbonate pattern, similar to the Umbonate brooch however a little more expanded with the crossbar to carry the bath or toilet articles.
Brian Stobbs
Quote:This is a Brooch known as a Chatelaine type

Sorry Brian this one is NOT a brooch. Although brooches of this type have been found, this one copied from a find displayed at The Museum of London is not a brooch. It was suspended from the belt.

What would the file be used for Caballo if not for nails? I cannot see an alternative use in the preparing of lamps for a file. :?

I've used a screwdriver as a tyre lever and a cocktail stick to mix glue.
How many of us have opened a tin of paint with a screwdriver? It certainly works but they were not designed to do these jobs.

Why wouldn't the Romans have used things designed for other uses such as hair removal tweezers as a gadget to lift a lamp wick? :wink:
This Manicure set as Adrian mentions is not a brooch but was suspended on a belt, I would like to know if the Museum has also the belt it was carried on. Is it a situation where we have to believe Arcaeologists when they see a ring that it was carried on a belt, could this ring have had a thong that went around the neck so the soldier did not lose his toilet items on the way to the bath house. The subject of going to the bath is an interesting question, did the soldier strip down to his under garments then fix a Chatelaine brooch to his Sagum or did he carry his toilet items around his neck on a leather thong. Indeed he did not have a bath towel, so one has to imagine did the cloak have yet another use. These useful tools could very easy be lost, so if it were a Chatelaine or the thing we see here they both play an important part in not loosing what was essential for weekly clean up at the bath house.
Brian Stobbs

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