But the central object in the whole of this chamber of horrors was the engine known as the Iron Virgin, which stood near the centre of the room. It was a rudely-shaped figure of a woman, something of the bell order, or, to make a closer comparison, of the figure of Mrs. Noah in the children's Ark, but without that slimness of waist and perfect rondeur of hip which marks the aesthetic type of the Noah family.

The above is from 'Squaw' from by Bran Stoker. Who is Mrs. Noah (seemingly not from 'old testament')? What is the children's Ark? The bell order means 'in the shape of bell'?


This link shows a copy of the Nuremberg iron maiden where you can clearly see its campanulate qualities https://literature.fandom.com/wiki/The_Squaw

Copy of the iron Maiden of Nuremberg on display in the Kriminalmuseum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany.

Noah's Ark sets were a popular item in the 19th and early 20th centuries; the book Youth Cultures in America [2 volumes]edited by Simon J. Bronner, Cindy Dell Clark. states:

Animal shaped toys carved from wood are among the earliest folk toys for children. These range from hand-sized wood horses, for example, to larger toy horses on a wheeled platform to rocking horses large enough for the young child to ride. Adults would also fashion folk toy animals from other materials, including clay and straw. With the emergence of commercial toy companies in the 19th century some wooden toys shaped like animals were mass produced, even if made by hand. A popular Sunday toy in the United States was a wooden Noah’s ark with carefully carved pairs of animals (and Noah and his wife too). Religious parents would let their children play on Sundays only with toys of moral or religious message, hence the popularity of Noah’s ark.

To this I would add my own observation that the parents probably enjoyed the fact that the ark doubled as the storage box and children could be encouraged to put the animals away by sending them into the ark two-by-two.

A number of images of such arks are available online, very many of them having been of German origin, which may also speak to their appropriateness for a novel set in Nuremberg. Although there are many styles, the ones with lathe-turned figures for Noah and his wife would seem to be closest to the iron Maiden in shape.

Early 20th Century Toy Noah's Ark, GermanNoah's Ark with 37 Animals, German, circa 1890

  • If anyone knows a way to make the linked pictures a little smaller, please feel free!
    – Spagirl
    Feb 25 '20 at 14:30
  • 1
    Anything uploaded through imgur (the default when adding images via the web tool) can get suffixes to load resized versions as per api.imgur.com/models/image#thumbs Feb 25 '20 at 14:39
  • @SeanDuggan many thanks
    – Spagirl
    Feb 25 '20 at 14:50
  • 1
    Thank you so much! You've solved my question perfectly!
    – Jay Lee
    Feb 25 '20 at 22:11

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