19th century, maritime or slave trade. 31 ½” length. Hand hewn oak haft pierced for a wrist thong. The tails in two segments of thick leather, comprising 5 and 4 respectively and nailed and wired to the haft. A few tails broken short. Very primitive with enormous age toning and color. Perhaps displayed in a smoky atmosphere. Flogging was used in the British Navy until 1879. Sailors were required to make the cat-o-nine tails with which they were whipped. As well, flogging was widespread in the slave trade and on plantations worked by slaves. The construction of this example, just the second we have ever offered, suggests use in the slave trade, probably the first half of the 19th century. Naval cats were generally of knotted cord and use of leather at sea was minimal. The presence of a wrist thong (now replaced by a suspension cord) suggests an atmosphere where the victim might try to wrest the cat from the flogger which would never happen at sea. An object of such humility that its survival is amazing, yet almost immeasurable historical significance.