Chain, Watch

A watch chain made from horse's hair. The chain is black and is made up of two sections of four threaded plaits that are each 3cm long and joined by a series of circular and figure eight shaped links. There are 43 links in the chain.
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Some fine hairwork must have provided welcome relief from rock breaking for a prisoner doing hard time at New Plymouth Gaol. This horsehair watch chain, one of the more unusual items in the care of Puke Ariki, is said to have been made by a prisoner from hair taken from horses used to pull the wagons at the prison quarry. It was given to the wagon driver, Alex Cunningham, as a gift. By 1910 the prison quarry had developed into a profitable enterprise earning £50-£70 per month. A newspaper article of the time praised the quarry’s hand-broken metal which was “much superior to machine crushed stone”.
It is not known exactly when this chain was made.
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