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Most are 15 to 18 inches long, though they can be found in all sizes.

I come across these from time to time. Sailors would pinch them as souvenirs of favorite ships and bring them ashore. I have about 10 or 12 I secured from sailing ships I served aboard in past years. The belaying pin seems to represent the bygone days of schooners and square riggers, of hell ships and Shanghai dens, fights on the Barbary Coast of San Francisco or Scully Square in Boston.
Actually, they were originally intended to provide a place to secure or "belay" a halyard or line, a part of the ship's running rigging.
These are old wood pins from long gone sailing ships that I have collected along the New England coast. Most are 15 to 18 inches long, though they can be found in all sizes. All are hardwood, usually white oak, ash or elm and occasionally teak or mahogany. These are old, weathered pieces of our maritime past. Let me pick one out for you.

 
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