This item came up at a nearby auction described as a “Fish Gutter.” Obviously the auctioneer confused it with the much more common “mackerel plows” that were used to score mackerel filets, making them appear fatter than normal. Actually is is a gauge used by Eskimos and Inuits to build nets with a uniform mesh size. The blade on this example is about 1 inch long, and would have been used to mark the location of a mesh knot, producing a net with a mesh size about 1 inch per side. These nets were constructed in this mesh size to catch small fishes, or as landing nets. Larger mesh sizes were made to catch salmon, arctic char, seals, and even walruses. This is the mesh gauge appears to be the only measurement tool made and use by these people. Many found in collections are fitted with wooden handles, or with roughened handles to keep them from slipping in the hand. Three such examples, of about the same size, can be seen in the Smithsonian ethnographic collection (Cat. No. 60/155) collected by Capt. Bruce Miner in 1899. This example is riddled with bore holes through which strips of seal hide is threaded to make a non-slip surface. The end of the handle is scarfed, perhaps indicating repurposing of an earlier tool (such as a harpoon fore shaft), or perhaps to lash an addition mesh gauge of a different size. It is a great tool. Fine.
Price - $495.00