Home > Vintage Showcase >

Vintage Natural Bones, matched set of four, 5 inch
Matched Set of Four Vintage Musical Bones, 5 inch
Victorian era kid-size bones?

Alternative Views:

Rare vintage item. Order now. When it's gone, it's gone.

Why shop here?
Sold! $149.97 set of four

Here's what you get: Two matched pairs (4 individual bones)

Quantity in Stock:(Out of Stock)
Product Code: 100A1-10
Not Currently Available

Description Technical Specs
Matched Set of Four Vintage Musical Bones, 5"

I discovered this matched set of four vintage musical bones in May of 2004. They came from a lady in Chester, Cheshire in the UK who said she "picked them up from a local car boot sale."

The sharp tone they produce is characteristic of instruments made of solid natural bone.

Short Design Style
The bones measure just 5" in length. This is a quite shorter than minstrel style bones which usually measure around 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 inches long. I understand that short musical bones were prevalent among Irish and seafaring players, but I can offer you no verifiable references to substantiate the claim.

Traditional Tapered Shape
The bones taper from thin at one end, to thick at the other. Tapered designs are common among shaped wooden musical bones. Some players prefer tapered bones as it makes them lighter and thinner (and thus easier to grip) at the top, but heavier and thicker (and thus easier to rattle) at the bottom. A 28 degree arc is the standard for musical bones and these align perfectly with my template. Still, I wonder if these objects are not musical bones at all, but some kind of utilitarian Victorian era artifact.

Victorian Era Kids Bones?
I prefer minstrel-length bones, and while I can manage to play these short ones—and have played them several times before an audience (usually four in one hand), they are a bit too short for my liking.

Wouldn't it be charming if these bones belonged to a Victorian era child who played them in the garden and on the boardwalk? The kid probably got them from his great uncle, a crusty old salt who carved them at sea and kept the bones stashed in a small pocket, rattling them during his long hours while on watch.

What You Get
You get two pairs of matched bones (4 individual musical bones). That is a matched set of two bones for each hand. One bone has a long hairline crack which does not seem to affect playing. Click More Photos button above to see additional images.

Are These Whalebone?
The bones look and feel like ivory, but close inspection reveals a grain like whalebone objects I have seen in museums. Musical bones made of ox shin are somewhat similar. But ox shin musical bones are usually larger. Also, ox shin grain is unlike this grain. Moreover, the antique appearance of these vintage bones makes the possibility they are ox shin seem remote.

But whatever they are, they are fun to play and produce a nice crisp snappy sound. How old are they? The whaling industry was going strong in 1807, so I am guessing this set is from one-hundred to two-hundred years old.

Can you solve the mystery of these bones?
If you know the provenance of these objects or if you know how to positively determine whether or not these objects are genuine whalebone, then post your opinion via the review system. Give the 'review' one star and please title it Guest Reply.
  • Short Length: Okay for kids, but might be too short for most adults.
  • Tapered Design: Easy to grip, easy to rattle.
  • Authentic Vintage Items: Great for living history events.

Share your knowledge of this product with other customers... Be the first to write a review

Browse for more products in the same category as this item:

Vintage Showcase