Saturday, 13 April 2013

Black Forest Hunting Rabbit Whip Hook/Holder

This is my lovely Bunny. Sadly she is a bit damaged - but still beautiful none the less. I have a mad passion for whip hooks, and own a few now. The rabbits are my favourites. I tell myself they are dog related in that these gorgeous objects are a great place to hang your dog's lead...

A bit about Whip Hooks
In the Sixteenth Century German Artisans used wood and horns together to make Leuchterweibchen - carved and painted figures with horns as their tails, see fig 1.

fig 1.

They were used for Chandeliers and decorations. The earliest Whip Hooks took this form, see fig 2.

fig 2.

Although the most common and popular Whip hooks are the late Victorian ones that take the form of animals.
These Whip holders were made, clearly, to hold whips, one could lay a whip or crop across the horns, or coil the whip around them.
Most of the animal subjects are hunted animals, rabbits, foxes, bears, wolves, with the hunted becoming the hunter, dressed in jacket and breeches and carrying a gun.
Human figures were mainly Hunters, Woodsmen or fairytale Dwarves, Gnomes and Elves.
Some whip holders have musical boxes incorporated and can play a variety of tunes when activated by hanging up ones whip. There were 3 main sizes of whip hook made.
The horns that were used for the hooks were that of the Chamois, a goat-antelope species that lives in the Alps, see fig 3.

fig 3.

Sometimes, other horns were used and also sometimes the horns were actually carved. The most popular wood used was Linden wood, Walnut, and lesser ones in Pine.
Even though most of the Whip Holders were made in Switzerland, the home to the best Black Forest carvers, some were also made in Germany, France and Austria.

Although some Whip Holders were mass produced, mass produced in Victorian times still meant being made by a team of highly skilled carvers, and each piece would still vary and be unique, despite being made to a particular design that would have been advertised in the manufacturers catalogue at that time.

Whip Hooks/Holders are very rare and collectible now, with the animals dressed as hunters being particularly desirable, although the skill of the carver, the pose and the face are all very key factors.
Labels and signatures on the back of the piece are very desirable as well, see fig 4.

fig 4.

Happy Hunting!

1 comment:

  1. When I was a small child, my mom took me to a local butcher shop where she bought summer sausage, cold cuts, etc...I will NEVER forget the impression made upon me by the whip hook they had on the wall. Of course, as a kid, I didn't know what it was, but it definitely gave me the creeps. As I remember it, it was a boy in German clothing, with the horns curling out in front of him. I haven't seen any other whip hooks with children as the subjects, but maybe I am misremembering and it was an elf. In any case--unforgettable!


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