Finger stocks

Finger stocks from the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Pinto Collection.

Finger stocks is the name for a device used to restrain a person's hands by the fingers. Finger stocks were mainly used as a means of punishment and restraint for children, not adults.


In the typical design, finger stocks were made from two wooden boards with four holes each. The two parts were connected with string or leather laces. The fingers of one hand were inserted into the holes of one board, then both hands were taken on the child's back and the fingers of the other hand were inserted into the holes of the other board. The string was tied around the hands, making it impossible to free oneself by pulling the fingers out.

As a side effect, the hands thus tied also ensured an erect posture by forcing the shoulders back.


Finger Stocks demonstration video, Dean Heritage Centre.

Finger stocks were used as a form of punishment of children in the 18th and 19th century, at school or boarding school by teachers, but also at home by parents and governesses, as a prevention and/or punishment for all kinds of transgressions committed with the hands, such as nail biting, nose picking or general failure to sit still. They are also said to have been used to punish or prevent masturbation.

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