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The Heavy Codline Cats

Prison Cats, Thieves’ Cats, the Newgate Cat and the Jailer's Cat

    Having done a lot of research into the subject of historical physical punishment, we have created these functionally authentic reproductions of the 19th Century British prison system's now-outlawed instruments of corporal discipline.

   Our versions are more finely made than the original and have been engineered for easier use and longer life -- but are no less savage, for all of that.

   The material we use is “tarred codline.” This is a twisted nylon twine, saturated with something like “road tar” in order to make the fiber denser (it sinks in salt water) and to protect it from abrasion. It is used primarily for commercial fishing nets and lines -- and is perhaps a little less dense and wire-like than the natural-fibre hemp it replaces.

   We do several styles: one with knotted tress ends -- the Thieves' Cat -- using a #72 cord, 1/8” in diameter for the 8-tress model and roughly 1/16" for the 12-tress version; heavier in diameter, #96, .15" in diameter, is the one with whipped ends -- the Prison Cat. We also make a simpler version, The Newgate Cat which is really much closer to the original design. The “business end,” with only eight strands of #84, .135" diameter tarred codline and one knot in each, is probably the most authentic. The handle is still a little “grand” compared to the original working punishment tool; the 42” length* is just a bit shorter.

   We later added the Jailer's Cat. The first was made on request for a good customer who did not have the space nor the hand power to wield one of the larger ones.
It has a shorter and slimmer handle for the smaller hand and six whipped end tresses of a slightly smaller diameter line. It is very fast ... and cutting. Even at 36" overall, it will make stripes -- and the whipped ends could draw blood.

A customer recently commented to us that: "The Jailer's Cat is truly a work of art, a masochist's delight. We are still 'getting acquainted' ... its bite is great." P

   In 18th and 19th Century armies and prisons, whip tresses were most often 1/8” diameter woven “whipcord” --  left unknotted and unwhipped. When knotted, to increase severity, only one or two knots in the end of each lash were used. Whipped ends make narrow welts and sometimes make clean cuts which draw blood. Knotted ends tend to crush rather than cut. They make blue bruises and tend to tear, rather than split the skin. We put five knots about an inch apart at the end our Thieves’ Cat lashes. This practice is taken from the designs used for “Religious Disciplines,” which seems to reduce the amount of damage just a bit.

    (The original standard appears to have been more than two feet of tresses on a two-foot handle which, in practice, is just a bit too long for modern ceiling heights. Besides, it generates a lot of power for unincarcerated people with whom one might wish to play again.)  

   We now include a version of the Thieves' Cat that had been made on special order. If "bigger is better" this one is the best of the lot! The proportions are indeed the ones we cited as "original standards."

    The big difference is the style of the handle. A full two feet long, it is partially French-Whipped, with the rest plain wrapped. The other difference is that the gauge of the tarred codline is the heaviest of all our codlines, #96, .15" diameter. And, each tress has five knots spaced strategically. Ouch!

All are Extreme

   Also see our Penultimate Cat, made with genuine hemp rope.

(We can also quote on the requirements of  “Reenactors” and others who demand absolute visual, material and historical accuracy.)

Jailer's 33" long    6 tresses, whipped
Reg $110.
Newgate 39” long    8 tresses w/1 knot ea
Prison 39” long    8 tresses, whipped
Thieves' 39” long    8 tresses, knotted
Prison 45” long    12 tresses, whipped
Thieves' 45” long    12 tresses, knotted
Big Thieves' 50” long    8 tresses, knotted
Cats II