Terry Smith

Not chess pieces. These elegant, lathe-made rods or spindles, the longest of which is about 2.5 inches, were used to decorate furniture and boxes. To create them, the craftsman would attach a bone blank shaped like a rod to a lathe-stock, which could then be turned, thus rotating the bone about its long axis. As the bone was rotated by one worker, another would apply one of various cutting tools to the rotating bone. The depth and shape of the resulting cuts could be controlled by the choice of tool and by the angle and duration of application of the blade. These pieces still possess the rough ends that fit into the lathe-stock, possibly indicating that they were rejects. The spindle on the left was sawed longitudinally to provide a flat side, unseen on its back, for attachment to a flat surface.