Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Life Preserver

I found this in a junk shop yesterday - it's a 'Life Preserver', which is a polite name for a Victorian cosh or black-jack, as would have been used in the time of Sherlock Holmes on the streets of London.

I have had a few of these in the past, but never one with the original linen bag as supplied by the vendor - that is quite a find. Because it has been in the bag for about 150 years, it is in extremely good condition.

They are very finely made - a few strands of semi-flexible steel form the central handle, and are held together with lumps of lead at both ends. The whole thing is then very finely and intricately bound in thin cord and painted black.

They were sold as defensive weapons, but - of course - criminals being criminals, were often used as offensive weapons. This is why eBay will not allow any sort of weapon to be sold on their site, whether or not it is a collectable antique.

So I have put it for sale on a site which actually specialises in selling collector's weapons, and I hope to make a few quid out of it. I just like interesting and historic items, whether or not they are weapons, or even self-protection devices.

I sort of don't blame eBay for banning things like this, though. There are plenty of young fools who would probably use it, given a chance.


  1. Interestingly Tom, on my key-chain I have what is known as a Kubotan. This is a short, cylindrical rod made of steel which is apparently for self-defence when used on the pressure points of a prospective assailant.

    I actually bought the thing to bash the ice out of the chicken drinkers when the harsh weather froze the water solid.

    I bought it legally from ebay so I imagine it is legal to carry.

    The .44 Magnum under my arm however...

  2. For one moment, I thought 'bash the ice out of the chicken drinkers' was a euphemism for some sort of physical attack.

  3. Oh and by the way, I have sold these on eBay before, but I described them as 'fishing priests'. This one is too good for use by a fisherman.

  4. You beat me to it. I was going to suggest a 'priest'.

  5. There are plenty of truncheons on eBay, but mostly are for "fancy dress"

  6. Yes, I have a priest for the Trout and they are very effective.

    These Kubotan's though are apparently very effective for a quick get away from an attacker.

    Have a look here and see what I mean.

  7. You find the neatest things.

  8. 'Fishing Priests' is a great term! Can I borrow it? We catch cobbler, which look like a catfish except they have poisonous spines which cause pain akin to childbirth. Our recourse for getting them out of the nets, without enduring this ordeal, is a 'waddy', an Aboriginal name for a lethal lump of wood. It just 'relaxes them a bit' as Old Salt puts it.

  9. I love the way Australian Aboriginal names are phonetic - like 'woomera' for throwing-stick, Sarah. I can imagine 'waddy' being the sound made when hit over the head with one of those things.

    I suppose you know (forgive me if you do, fish-lady) where the word 'priest' comes from for a fish-truncheon? It's to administer 'the last rites', after you have landed it...

  10. Thanks for that Tom. I have always wondered whar a life preserver was (as in Gilbert and Sullivan - with cat-like tread upon our prey we steal.) Now I know. You must spend a lot of your day poking about in antique shops.

  11. I do, Weaver. And other places where I shouldn't.

  12. You are interested in the most obscure things, but always so fascinating. And yep, there are a lot of idiots out there who would buy that and use it! xx