A81_172.jpg Thimble. Collection of Puke Ariki (A81.172).

This thimble case may look like it is covered with a particularly bright green snake skin, but it is actually made of a rather more unusual material – frog skin. Frog skin is much more rarely used as a covering than snake skin or other animal hides, but here it adds a glorious contrast to the deep red velvet inner case and the golden thimble. The New Zealand Herald reported in 1934 that frog skin was starting to be used as a flashy inset into shoes, turning a “shade of deep blue” once treated. Frog skin has also been used to dress wounds, especially during World War One. A report from January 1917, reprinted in a number of New Zealand newspapers, discussed how army doctors had been using the skins from English frogs to aid with skin grafting. According to doctors, the frog skins helped to cover slow-healing wounds, to allow a “neat and supple scar” and had “the advantage of transplanting a skin free from hair and also free of any disease which might be conveyed in human skin.”

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