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Yesterday my postman brought another package from Germany. This one contained an Imperial Navy Nähzeug, the sewing kit issued to sailors. What Americans call a "housewife".

The issued kits were a blue roll containing cards with the various colors of thread found on uniforms, a selection of buttons, a length of cloth tape printed with the sailor's surname and a needle case with several sizes of needles so he could label and maintain his clothes.

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There were a few other items in the roll that my wife, who is a fairly well known authority on mid to late 19th century clothes, identified for me. The small brush is the type used to clean wool clothes by brushing them. The brown wooden cylinder with black rings is the needle case. The pointed ivory thing is a punch used to start a hole in heavy material. The scissors with a thumbscrew on the side are buttonhole scissors. You set the length of the buttonhole with the screw, then they all get cut to the same size. The tortoiseshell item is a manicure tool. The small knife, lock and measuring tape are self explanatory.

I know from the name tapes that the sailors name was Lange. The markings on the outside of the roll elude me. Anyone care to try to figure them out?
 

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Incredibly rare to find one complete with all accessories intact - bravo! I'd guess a veteran's family kept this treasured personal item away from generations of curious kids. Unfortunately the markings are too blurred to read, as if non-indelible ink was used in stenciling the B.A.(Abnahmestempel) issuing depot & date or the unit ID.
 

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I could have saved you some trans Atlantic shipping Mike.
 

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Mike, You are correct in that U.S. Soldiers called these little kits, Housewifes. Sorry I can't help with the translation, but I will give a little history of the American Housewife from the Civil War, as I know it. Unlike your German Housewife, U.S. Soldier's housewifes were furnished by the soldier's Mother, Wife or Sweetheart. The U.S. housewife was basically the same, but being furnished by female relations, the thread and buttons were what was available around the homestead. I love history of all types.
Pat
 

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Housewife translates to Hausfrau, but the Germans may have called this little repair kit something else.
Norm
 

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A good candidate would be 'Nähzeug', the term Mike used which translates to 'sewing kit'. However it couldn't be verified as Sommer's 2 vol.'Imperial German Uniforms & Equipment - 1907-18' didn't show it, probably one of several small items issued not included. Perhaps other specialist sources have it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The Bundeswehr still had a sewing kit, and they still call it a Nähzeug. I don't know if they have a slang term for it, or if the Navy did. It seems likely. Soldiers and sailors always have names for things, some of them are even printable. :)
 
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