chavvah: (defender)
Hi [person with question],

In response to your question about the earliest recorded use of the steel leg-hold trap, I think I might have found the info you were looking for.

From Chapter 2 of Water: a Natural History by Alice Outwater (1996):

'The first reference to a modern trap is in Leonard Mascall's 1590 British classic, A Book of Fishing with Hook and Line[...] Widely deployed in Europe in the 1600s, the trap now known as a steel trap was pictured, and described as "a griping trappe made all of yrne, the lowest barre, and the ring or hoope with two clickets." The first steel traps used in North America were based on the Mascall trap, and had a round or oval baseplate. By the 1800s, the design had changed to a flat baseplate, with jaw pillars mounted at either end.'


Interestingly, the Leonard Mascall book (whose full title is A booke of fishing with hooke and line, and of all other instruments thereununto belonging: another of sundrie engines and traps, to take polcats, buzzards, rats, mice, and all other kinds of vermine and beasts whatsoeuer, most profitable for all warriners, and such as delight in this kind of sport and pastime) was reprinted in facsimile form in 1973.

So far, the only copy I have found for download (here: http://www.farreaches.org/compendium/docs/abof.zip) reproduces only the fishing part and not the "sundrie engines and traps". However, I only gave it a quick look, because as much as I enjoy obscure middle English texts, you really could not locate my interest in fishing, were you to use the world's largest electron microscope.

It should be noted that much of Leonard Mascall's book was supposedly cribbed from Dame Juliana Berners' "Boke of St. Albans", printed in 1486, which covered hunting, heraldry, hawking, and fishing. There are sections of the book (incidentally, the first known book on fishing written by a woman) that no longer exist, so it's possible that her book may have also contained references to leg-hold traps.



You guys, I am SUCH a nerd. But it's not my fault: everyone at work sends these people to me because they believe that I have a mind like a steel trap.*


*all of iron, with two clickets. ;)

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chavvah

January 2010

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