Figure of eight handcuff

These handcuffs are known as ‘figure of eight’ cuffs because of their shape. The lock on the side was operated by a key, which is now missing. They were donated to the museum in 1873 by Mr W Combe who lived in Strong’s Cottages, St Sidwells, but no other history survives to record where or when the handcuffs were used. This type were used by the police, but also by private institutions such as the similar pair in the museum’s collection thought to have been used at Colson’s grocery shop.
Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Social and industrial history
Common Name
figure of eight handcuff
Simple Name
Full Name
Period Classification
Victorian (1837-1901)
Family Group

Collection Area Region
Collection Continent

    There is 1 comment

    • Ellie Coleman
      27 July 2022 | Permalink | Reply to this comment

      This object was selected by a member of the LGBTQ+ community to feature in an interactive in Making History gallery.

      “Handcuffs spoke to me about the ongoing relationship I’ve had with how I feel about the law, the government, the police, and the relationship with the queer community. I came out as a lesbian in the 1980s at a time when the relationship between the queer community and the police was really strained and, really, it was a really difficult time. … I think it was about fighting any kind of oppression and injustice in the end, and for me personally in terms of being a youth worker, which is my chosen profession, I’ve seen the injustice young people face, too, with transphobia, homophobia. So, I think the fight became broader than just how I started out, which was fighting, being part of the peace movement, it was like we just became anti-oppression. … I do hope that anybody from the queer community – anybody from the LGBTQ community for those that don’t like the word queer – looks at the object and understands why I’ve chosen it and thinks about how their own lives have been impacted by oppression and looks at what part they can play in making life simpler for the LGBTQ community going forwards.”

      For the full transcript and sound piece follow this link.

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