|ANTI-WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE PIN CUSHION, MADE OF VELVETEEN AND HAND-PAINTED, ENGLISH, CIRCA 1880-1910, EXCEPTIONALLY RARE
|Frame Size (H x L):
|Flag Size (H x L):
|6" x 2.25" x 1.75"
|Velveteen pin cushion, in the form of a Suffragette, with facial features, scarf, and clothing, painted in black and wearing an apron with lettering that reads "Votes for Women." This is an extremely rare object, undocumented so far as I am aware. No pin cushions of any sort are illustrated in the two primary references on Suffrage memorabilia. Made ca 1880-1910, it is hand-made, but was definitely produced in a cottage industry setting. Though it is an anti-Suffrage piece, the form is somewhat unexpected. Most objects and illustrations made for the anti-suffrage movement were grotesque caricatures of how this faction wished to characterize women pressing for equal rights at the ballot box: ugly, old, and devoid of any positive or attributes, especially those traditionally desirable to men. In this instance, the form is of a rather pleasant looking and bespeckled babushka and might easily be mistaken for a doll if one didn't recognize the materials and construction. Stuffed with wood shavings and with painted detail, these traits are typical of velvet fruit and Steiff-type manufactured animals that incorporate a pin cushion. In fact, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that this was a German-made object, produced for the English market.
I was able to identify just one other pin cushion, in the collection of a British museum, also commercially made, incorrectly identified as an anti-Suffrage voodoo doll. Although the basic concept does bear some unavoidable similarity, early pin cushions came in many forms, most of which were intended to be nice to look at. Here the form was meant to "poke fun," no pun intended, at Suffragettes. Other pin cushions of this sort are known, made in a similar light. The most memorable of these is perhaps a type made during WWII, of ceramic and fabric, in the form of Adolf Hitler, which bore a legend on the base, "stick a pin in the Axis." Others have been produced for various politicians.
I find anti-Suffrage objects especially interesting additions to an advanced Suffrage collection, especially when they are not in grotesque form. They are excellent reminders that there were two sides to an issue, and great educational tools, illustrating how society moved beyond outdated concepts.
Condition: The bottom was split open and part of the stuffing was absent, likely along with a wooden wafer that would serve for weight and stability. We made a new wooden insert, re-stuffed to compensate for a small amount of absent material inside, and affixed a small oval of fabric to the bas, also absent, to keep it contained.
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