Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Old West Handcuffs

by Shanna Hatfield

In my new sweet historical western romance releasing next week, I have an easy-going sheriff as the hero.

When I was developing the idea for the story, I decided it would be fun for the one person who drives the sheriff crazy to be a prim and proper woman who arrives in town quite unexpectedly.  Of course, he does his best to antagonize her and she goes out of her way to snub him.

Eventually, he ends up arresting her (twice) and hauls her off to jail. In fact, the cover of the book shows her standing outside the jail with cuffs around the wrists.

Since I couldn't find any models wearing an 1890s outfit with cuffs on their wrist, I ordered a pair of reproduction cuffs and had Captain Cavedweller snap a photo of  them on my wrists.

I am here to tell you from first-hand experience these things are heavy (really heavy), incredibly uncomfortable, and aren't the easiest things to get on or off.

It made me wonder about the history of handcuffs. According to information I found, the first recorded mention of handcuffs was in Virgil's telling of  the myth of Proteus, an ancient Greek shape-shifting god. The son of Apollo discovered the secret to preventing Proteus from shape shifting and escaping was with handcuffs.

The Bronze and Iron ages ushered in the first metal handcuffs, which were “one size fits all” for centuries. The inability to adjust the handcuffs brought with it any number of problems. If a suspect's wrists were too large, the cuffs were painful (and they hurt bad enough when they aren't too small) or wouldn't close. If the suspect's wrists were too small, they could slip right out of them.

In 1862, a man named W.V. Adams patented the first adjustable ratchet design. Orson C. Phelps followed with a patent that improved upon the original ratchet design.

John Tower used their patents to manufacture what were the industry standard from the mid-1800s right up until World War II.  Tower Handcuffs introduced the first double-locking cuff design in 1879.

George Carney invented the first swing cuff handcuffs  in 1912, similar in design to the handcuffs used today.  The revolutionary design made it possible for a law enforcement officer to quickly secure the cuffs with just one hand, vastly improving security and ease of use.

 Corsets and Cuffs releases May 12 and it is currently available for pre-orders.
Here's a little excerpt:
Her jaw dropped open as she gaped at him. “This is ridiculous. Remove these cuffs and release me, this instant.”
“Not happening, your highness.”  He swung open the door to the jail and escorted her through the office back to the cells. No one else was in the building, something for which Brianna was grateful. Mortified to be manhandled in such a manner on the way to the jail, she certainly didn’t need any spectators to her unexpected imprisonment.
Tully marched her into a cell then removed the cuffs. A smile played around the corners of his mouth as he slammed the door and turned a key in the lock. “You’re under arrest.”
Furious, she spluttered in protest. “For what? I have done nothing more than demand you carry out the responsibilities of the job the good citizens of this town entrusted into your care. You have no right…”
Tully took a step back as she grabbed hold of the cell bars and rattled them. He smirked. “You are under arrest for assaulting an officer of the law.”
Defiant and insulted, she lifted her chin. “You deserved the slap after that impudent comment.”
Tully ignored her and continued. “You’re under arrest for assaulting an officer of the law, being a public nuisance, harassment, and disorderly conduct.”
Incensed, she rattled the bars again. “I did no such thing, and you know it. This is an outrage. You, sir, are a bully and a beast! I demand an immediate release. Wait until your superiors hear about this. I’ll have you removed from your position. In fact, I won’t stop until the governor of this state has you tossed in prison!”
“Good luck with that, sweetheart.” Tully stalked over to the door, leading to the jail’s office, his gaze hard and penetrating. “Your time might be better spent reflecting on how you ended up in here, Miss Smarty Britches.”

Shanna Hatfield 2Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, USA Today best-selling author Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with relatable characters. When this hopeless romantic isn’t writing or indulging in rich, decadent chocolate, Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
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pr777 said...

learned something new about the cuff, i read and enjoyed the book, it was very good,

Shanna Hatfield said...

Thank you, Patricia! Glad you enjoyed the story and learning about handcuffs! :)