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Dual use tool

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Office Antiques451 of 953Antique Printing/Sign Marker KitWoolworth Company Money Bag
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Posted 2 years ago


(44 items)

I have a half dozen of these, both designs. I ran across this one so thought I would post it for input from others. The advertisement IS NOT mine, it is a 1940's ad I found on the internet.

It seems these were originally used as a scalpel and then as a steel eraser. On a UK web site they refer to it as a fleam scalpel.

This is from the internet:

Scalpel/eraser. This surgeon's tool actually had a dual purpose. Pre-Civil War documents were printed on vellum (thin layer of sheep's skin). When a mistake was made the writer would simply scrape the area and rewrite.

This has the J. RODGERS & SONs hallmarks.

Anyone else have info to share by chance?

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  1. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 2 years ago
    I always thought these were letter openers for people to good to carry a pocket knife.
  2. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Most interesting! I know that calligraphers use scalpels sometimes to salvage a work when a blooper can be scraped away without causing an unspeakable blemish, but I never thought of a surgeon using them on parchment. Same principle I guess – real vellum or parchment is animal hide, and in the old days, it was quite precious. An animal had to die to produce vellum/parchment, and the process of processing the hide to make a surface suitable for writing was quite arduous, time-consuming, and smelly. So, if vellum were precious for a surgeon then, as I imagine it was for a long time, yes, I can see a surgeon using a scalpel to scrape parchment. One would think that in time of war he or an assistant would just scratch out the mistake in ink, but I suppose parchment was precious during war, as well. Fascinating history, thank you! I can’t see the blade well enough to tell whether I would use it on a calligraphy project, but I trust you did your research, and that I have yet again something to learn from your postings. miKKo
  3. Aimathena, 12 months ago
    LoL fhrjr2
    I love them, they're beautiful
  4. Aimathena, 12 months ago
    Everyone tells me my penmanship looks like calligraphy

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