Whips and our personas

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Whips and our personas

Post  Gery Barker on Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:44 am

I have been doing a lot of research on wagoners and especially contract wagoners in the 1850s and 1860s. I have about a dozen paintings, prints and photographs that I have found (some have been posted here). I have also come across about twenty word descriptions. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, people were proud of their trade. Trade symbols show up in artwork of taverns, men wore their blacksmithing aprons in parades, farmers dressed as farmers so every one knew what they did. Well, the symbol of the wagoner was the whip. They had their portraits taken with them. They took them into the saloon with them. (Coachmen did too.) I think if we are to portray a wagoner, with any kind of team, we should start thinking this way. George Moreland showed a wagoner with a buggy whip in a tavern. We have two examples of muleskinners with their coiled snake whips with then as they had their images taken. Certainly the bullwhacker was never separated from his stock whip. Whatever type is proper, it should be a part of our dress. I know the ox drivers frequently made their own, I am not sure about mule and horse people. Making a whip is not that difficult. Home made whips would probably be more accurate than the beauties we can buy today. It is something to think about.
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Gery Barker

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Whips

Post  aWagonMaster on Mon Apr 19, 2010 3:21 pm

Suggestions on making a whip...
Materials? Length? Construction?
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aWagonMaster

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Re: Whips and our personas

Post  Gery Barker on Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:12 am

Snake whips and bull whips seem to be the most common with horse and mule drivers, stock whips with ox drivers. Six to eight foot whips are the easiest to learn to use. Short ones like signal whips are down right dangerous (easy to hit yourself). The longer the whip the slower it is to get going, but the louder it is potentially. The couple of contemporary illustrations of Civil War drivers and freighters using them show fairly short whips, maybe four or six feet. Oh, stage coach drivers used very long whips. A friend of mine who is very good with a whip uses a sixteen footer at times. Just experimenting and watching him, my little stock whips are out and cracking at an ox with his mind wandering in a fraction of the time. Another thing, the most accurate whips are ones with a handle that you can aim. If you are going to make your own, a four plat is easy to master. I have used thin, 1/16 inch cow hide and raw hide. Both have worked well. A company named Western Stage Props can be found on line. They have a good selection of ready made whips. I am a strong believer in using their learners package with a swivel handle bull whip, instructional tape and safety glasses. That did not get me started (I read a book), but it sure improved me.
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Gery Barker

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Re: Whips and our personas

Post  Jim Bishop on Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:21 pm

Something told me to check the forum tonight. I too had been thinking about adding a whip to my "persona". I worked on a cattle ranch for a while in my early 20's and found them to work a lot better than "hotsticks" for bad bulls. I lost that whip to a hungry squirrel many years ago. I saw some nice ones for sale at mule days in Winfield Ala. last year and eariler today was hoping that man would be there again this year. They were well built and moderately priced.
I have what is left of my GG Grandfathers whip. I was told that he drove his oxen with the help of that whip. I was told that he had made it and if so, the ones at Winfield looked just like them.
I think that an 8 foot would be a proper length fro my wagon.
Thanks Gery and Nathan for this post.
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