Fishermen’s Woolen Nippers

Fishermen’s Woolen Nippers

Usage conditions apply
Downloads
Description
Fishermen working trawl lines in the 19th century often suffered cuts and rope burns on their hands. They typically wore mittens or gloves to protect themselves when hauling the long lines aboard and removing the fish. These sturdy but soft rings, called nippers, are knitted of woolen yarn and stuffed with more wool. They would have fit around a fisherman’s palms, protecting his hands while his fingers remained free for tasks requiring dexterity.
These nippers were probably made in Gloucester, Mass., for use by local fishermen working on offshore schooners. The shallow, fertile banks stretching from Georges Bank east of Nantucket to the Grand Bank off Newfoundland, Canada, were prime fishing areas for Gloucestermen. Cod, haddock, and halibut were the principal species caught by fishermen working aboard schooners in these waters in the late 19th century.
These nippers were among the fishermen’s clothing, tools, and apparatus featured by the United States in the 1883 International Fisheries Exhibition in London.
Object Name
nippers
Date made
1880s
used
late 19th century
on exhibit
1883
Place Made
United States: Massachusetts, Gloucester
on exhibit
United Kingdom: England, London
Physical Description
wool (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 5 in x 3 3/8 in x 1 3/4 in; 12.7 cm x 8.50011 cm x 4.50012 cm
ID Number
AG.102074
catalog number
102074
accession number
2009.0157
Credit Line
U.S. Fish Commission
subject
Fishing
International Fisheries Exhibition
The Development of the Industrial United States
See more items in
Work and Industry: Fisheries
Work
Industry & Manufacturing
Clothing & Accessories
Textiles
Exhibition
On the Water
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.

Comments

Add a comment about this object