08.01.2011 to 25.09.2011
The Museum of Decorative Arts has in its collection numerous magnificent handcrafted works, the products of all manner of trades and crafts, ranging from the middle ages to the present day. However, the tools once used by craftsmen are also often themselves very sophisticated in design. The spectrum of objects on display here ranges from decorated tools once in everyday use up to splendid tools that were hardly ever used, including mere copies of devices, as seen in the symbol of a particular guild or in model tools.
This small exhibition in the museum's foyer presents a selection of these kinds of 'fine' tools, dating from the 16th to the 18th century, found in the museum's storerooms. Due to the disappearance of many traditional crafts and techniques, often little is known today of their insignia and original functions. This is the case, for instance, in the tap and dies used to cut wooden screws, the cooper's bung borer, or the quill cutter. The original function of other implements, however, are obvious to us through their form, such as measuring tape, a cobbler's foot measure or scissor-shaped snuffers; while folding yardsticks, planes and thimbles are still in use today and virtually unchanged in design. Locks and keys are also objects that very often bear such intricate designs that they are raised from being merely functional objects and become valid symbols of the aesthetic sentiment of the age in which they were created.