A tawse consists of a strip of leather, with one end split into a number of tails. The thickness of the leather and the number of tails varied. Many Scottish saddlers made tawses for local customers. The tawse was also referred to as the belt, which is normally a term for an unforked implement, as worn in trousers (see belt).
The products of the best-known producer, John J Dick, were made in Lochgelly in Fife, Scotland. Lochgelly tawses were produced in four different weights; Light, Medium, Heavy & Extra Heavy. Each tawse would be stamped either L, M, H or XH to indicate its thickness.
Scottish schools used the tawse to beat pupils on the palms. In the 1980s a European court judgment led to its use being banned in UK schools in 1998.
Original Lochgelly tawses are considered collectibles and may be sold for several hundred pounds each.