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Sailor's valentine

Decorative wooden anchor covered in shells

Decorative shellwork anchor

Traditionally sailors made items like this whilst on board ship to give as a gift to loved ones on their return home.

The designs are typically a decorative geometric arrangement of shells within a square or octagonal case, sometimes including a sentimental line such as ‘forget me not’. This work is thought to have been produced for the souvenir market, perhaps in the Caribbean, and dates from between 1840 - 1860.

Gift of Mr T Whelan, Isle of Bute.

You can see this item on display in the Life at Sea gallery at Merseyside Maritime Museum.

  • Wood and shell, overall dimensions 180 x 210 mm
  • Accession number MMM.1996.158