Skating away, on the thin ice of a new day

It’s 2010. A new year, a new day. Check this post’s title. Jethro Tull fans amongst you will now be singing along merrily; if you haven’t yet experienced the Tull, you can hear their excellent song on YouTube here.

Let me tell you about some of the ice skates in our collection. Our earliest is believed to be from the Stone Age (found in the Netherlands in the 1930s). They didn’t change much in the ensuing centuries; this one was discovered near Moorfields, London, and probably dates from about the 13th century. It’s fashioned from the leg-bone of a horse.

Bone ice skate, c.1200 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Bone ice skate, c.1200 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Wood was also used for early ice skates, and the insertion of metal blades improved the device enormously:

Wooden ice skate with metal runner, c.1830 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Wooden ice skate with metal runner, c.1830 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

All-metal skates soon followed, and we’ve examples of all sorts in our extensive skating collection. We’ve ice hockey skates, racing skates, children’s skates, skates for ice rinks, skates with clogs attached, snow-skates for frozen roads and even a copy of an ice skate made from a whale’s rib.

I’m sure there’s a joke in that last one, but as it presumably wasn’t particularly funny for the whale, I’d better leave it there. Instead, let me wish you a happy new year!

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