I came across this brilliant illustration and description at my place of work.  They are of a whale bone corset stay found in a series of early 20th century publicaitons about new acquisitions to a museum.

When I next write a story with my Edwardian dominatrix character, Lady Sally Rudston-Chichester, I’m definitely going to put her in a whale bone corset like this – and decorated with whaling ships too.  That’s just so cool!

This is just the sort of totally pointless random detail that brings a character to life.  Hmmm….I’m just reflecting on the bdsm/erotic permutations of how a whale bone stay can be introduced into a scene!

“The accompanying drawing represents an unusually fine piece of whalebone, which was used as a stay’s busk early last [19th] century.  It measures 15 ¾ inches in length, is over 2 ½ wide, and ¼ inch in thickness.  In those days fashion directed that ladies wore strong busks in front of their straight-fronted corsets, and it was the practice for the young men of that period to carve the stay busks out of wood, or whalebone, or other material.  Upon these were various devices, sometimes with initials or mottoes.  The present example has, on one side, representations of ships, a plant pot, a heart, a flying fish, and the initials “S.S.”  On the other side is a view of whaling ships, and a number of boats, whales etc.  Through constant use [tee-hee, that sounds intriguing!] the whalebone has become much worn on one side.”