Scrivener's knives.

Accession number: 
MS W.37
Scrivener's knives.
Germany, 17th century
Bequest of Julia Parker Wightman, 1994.
2 knives : elephant ivory and gilded steel, ill. ; 180 mm; 177 mm
F & G Staack Antiquarian Booksellers, Camden, Maine; purchased by Julia Parker Wightman from Staack in 1962; no JPW number; Julia Parker Wightman Bequest in 1994.

Scrivener's knives, crafted in Germany in the 17th century; elephant ivory and gilded steel, 180 mm (flat blade) and 177 mm (pointed blade) in length.
These rare objects were used for scraping and smoothing parchment or vellum in preparing their surfaces for writing. One knife has a pointed blade with carved ivory handle, ending in a woman's head; its gilded blade is engraved with arabesque designes on one side, and arabesque designs and trophies on the other. The flat-bladed knife has a tapering, turned ivory handle; the gilded blade is engraved with arabesques and an equestrian figure on one side, and with arabesques and a standing full-length figure wearing antique Roman military costume, on the other.
Kept in special cloth-covered two-piece boxcase lined with green felt, with an inside removable plexiglass cover, morocco spine, gold-tooled and labeled: Scrivener Knives 17 cent, signed JPW 1962.