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Whip snaps, Buckland Mass., circa 1880
TitleWhip snaps, Buckland Mass., circa 1880
Full Size Image
SubjectWhips; Braid; Weaving; Buckland (Mass.)
DescriptionWhip snaps were incorporated into the tip of the whip on the end that would hit or snap the animal, usually a horse, into obedience. The snaps in Buckland's collection are orange, blue, green, yellow, dark green or black. They are approximately 11 to 12 inches in total length. It's unknown if the color of a snap has a particular meaning. Whip snaps were usually made of silk or cotton thread. A brief description of the whip snap industry can be found on page 259 of The History of Buckland 1779-1935, by Fannie Shaw Kendrick: For a number of years, to take the place of the money formerly earned by braiding hats, women made whip-snaps. Edward [sic, should be Samuel] Elmer carried on this business, supplying women with machines and thread therefore. The average price for snap making was twenty-five cents a gross. To make a perfect whip-snap was quite an art so not much of this work devolved upon the children. An article titled, Down Memory Lane Whip Making in Buckland, found in the August 21, 1950 issue of Our Buckland, a community newsletter, provides some more details on how whip snaps were made. The article refers to a New York exhibition at Corcoran Gallery of Art that included a painting by Edwin Romanzo Elmer (1850-1923), a Buckland artist. A photo of the painting apparently appeared in the New York Herald and also in Time Magazine. The painting was of Elmer's wife at work at a whip snap machine. According to the Our Buckland writer, the New York publications had misidentified the machine as a weaving loom. The Buckland article describes the whip snap machine and the whip snap industry: There were hooks above and the threads went down to a weight below and back. There was a crank to be turned and a tool like a screw driver to be raised with the twist of the threads to regulate the smoothness of the twist. The loops were packed a gross to a package and given out to the women of the community to tie the knots, three knots to a snap. These paid the women about 4 cents a dozen for tying. Perhaps they earned a dollar a day by being very busy all day. However, it was cash, and the check at the end of the month was welcomed. Mr. Samuel Elmer [Edwin Romanzo Elmer's brother] was the one who owned the machines, took them around to the workers, took them away if the work was not satisfactory, and ran the whip snap business.
SourceLocal Industries Collection
RelationFrom the collections of the Buckland Historical Society, Inc., P.O. Box 88, Buckland, MA, 01338,
Coverage42.60 N, 72.77 W
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