Man catchers were used for hundreds of years by European and early American law
enforcement to capture and subdue criminals. They were known to have been used as
far back as ancient Rome. Extremely effective for their intended purpose, they were,
however, rather cruel to those they were used upon and often resulted in serious injuries.
The principle is quite simple: the U-shaped collar easily would slip over the neck of the
person to be apprehended. The one-way springs allow the neck to go through, but do not
allow it to come back out. Once ensnared, any attempt at escape would be both painful
and fruitless. This example is of hand forged flat iron bars with integral conical ferrule.
The catching bars move on a riveted pivot and are returned to their original position by
means of the attached flat springs. One wing has 3 indiscernible stamped touch marks at
the curve of the “U”. The wood shaft is a modern replacement modeled after an original in
a Romanian museum, with leather and wire hand holds. Iron shows age, lamination, and
considerable stabilized corrosion. Length of metal 18 ½”, overall 88 3/4″.