Projects and Science

Flea market treasures
18th and 19th century textile tools


Do you also like to go to garage sales and flea markets? There's always plenty to see. Sure - most of it is junk - but sometimes you can find some real treasures there and that at reasonable prices. Sometimes because of the seller him- or herself does not really know what he or she´s really got but much more often because what is for sale sells poorly. Why? Because nowadays no one can use something like that. Or do you spin and weave the fabric of all your clothes yourself? Therefore one can find real bargains now and then. Old tools that are actually worthy of being displayed in a local history or folk museum.
Therefore the ABT offers you here a little virtual museum showing what can be found on flea markets or in the attic. Prices will not be revealed.

Fiber preparation

Flax brake, Styria 1793. Total length 37.4“.
Handkarden/hand cards
Pair of hand cards from Styria, Austria.

A pair of hand cards typically consists of two mobile square or rectangular paddles, but this pair has a bigger lower stationary part (length 42,52") and a mobile upper part (length 18,89"). On the mobile part the year 1839 is engraved. A pair of cards is used to brush the wool between them until the fibers are more or less aligned in the same direction. The type of yarn made from carded wool is called woolen (American English) or woollen (British and Canadian English).


Wool cards with IHS monogram, Styria, dated 1797. Length with handle: 15"; width: 8.4".
Wollkäemme/wool combs
Wool combs. Length 13,38" and 15,74". Combing organizes the fiber so that the hairs remain parallel to one another and removes broken fibers and impurities, leaving the spinner with the strongest, purest fiber. What you get is sliver or roving which then is spun into worsted.
Flachskämme/flax combs
Flax combs. Left: the initials HG and ZG and the year 1793 carved into the wood, length 14.84". Center: 1844, length 13.77". Right: Christogram IHS, 1799, length 14.96". Styria, Austria.

Flax hetchel, dated 1799, Austria. Length: 16.5".


Flax comb, 18th century, Austria. Length: 18.7"; Width: 13".



Flax hetchel. Top: dated 1816, length 18.50". Bottom: flax hetchel with Virgin Mary Monogram, dated 1795, length 30.51". Styria, Austria.

Flachshecheln/flax hetchels
Flax hetchels. Upper left: dated 1777, length 21,65". Lower right: dated 1774, length 16,14". Styria, Austria.

Spinning the yarn

Spinnrocken, Spinnrad
Distaff for spinning wheel decorated on both sides from Styria, Austria. On one side the Christogram IHS and the year 1888 are carved into the wood. Length 19,88".
Six-armed spinner's weasel or click reel, Germany. A narrow strip of wood is raised by a splint on the pinion gear (see details right). Upon reaching the required number of revolutions this "tongue" rebounds and produces a warning sound. Height 22,83", circumference 53,93"
Kreuzhaspel_niddy noddy
Niddy noddy (yarn winder). Length 14.56"; Length of the crossbars 13.77"

Kreuzhaspel, niddy noddy 2
Niddy noddy (yarn winder). France, 19th century. Length 19.30"; Length of the crossbars 11".

A spinner´s weasel or clock reel is a device for measuring yarn and turning it into a skein. It consists of a spoked wheel, each spoke having a crossbar at the end, with gears attached to a pointer on a marked face (which looks like a clock) and an internal mechanism which makes a "pop" sound after the desired length of yarn is measured. Some spinner´s weasels have a mechanism that clicks or pops for each turn of the reel instead of a “clock”. These are sometimes called click reels. When the wheel is turned it rotates a screw that in turn rotates a gear. The screw turns until the gear makes a complete revolution at which time a pin on the wheel will let a slim piece of wood slip over it and make a snapping sound.          

After the yarn is wound onto the crossbars by turning the reel the skein can be further processed by washing, bleaching, dyeing or sold in this form. Rotating reels have at least four arms, but also five to eight-armed examples exist, very common are reels with six arms. They can stand free or be bolted to a table.

Extract from: Wikipedia Haspel


Spinning box (flax box). Length of the box: 16,92".

A spinning box is a cross between a supported spindle and a spinning wheel. It consists of a wooden box with elongated side parts into which a spindle with a drive wheel is clamped. It operates by pushing the drive in the box with the hand or foot and the thread jumps over the tip of the protruding shaft. If the tip has a reel that can be clipped onto the shaft you can just pull off the spool and the yarn must not be laboriously unwound from the spindle. Some evidence seems to indicate that they were (also?) used as bobbin winders (e.g. to wind yarn onto a bobbin or a pirn for a flying shuttle).



Schärbretter/warping boards


Einfädeln ins Zettelbrett/mounting a warping board

Mounting a warping board.

Siehe:  Karl ManherzBeiträge zur volkskundlichen Beschreibung des Weberhandwerks in Pula (Plattenseeoberland)   (28.06.2016)

Old, hand-carved band loom from Styria, Austria. As the irregular teeth of the gear wheels and countless traces of carving prove (see detail below right) this band loom was made without the aid of machines. Length 48".


Gatterkamm/rigid heddle

Rigid heddle for band loom. Length 11,22". Austria.


kleiner Bandwebstuhl/small band loom
Small band loom found in attic. Length 17,32 ". Probably from former Yugoslavia.

Klöppelspuler/bobbin winder
Bobbin winder, end 19th – early 20th century. Total length: 24". With this device the thread for making bobbin lace is wound onto the bobbins. Auvergne, France.

Shuttle (Styria or Carinthia) with IHS monogram, the initials M.W. and 1807 carved into the wood. Length: 19.7".

Textiles sometimes need washing 

Waeschebleuel/washing beetle
Washing beetle or bat with the engraved Christogram IHS and the year 1794, length 14,69", from Styria, Austria. Wooden bats or clubs can be used to help with beating the dirt out of the textiles. These could be used by the waterside on a rock (a beetling-stone), on a block (battling-block), or on a board.
Washing beetle from Styria, Austria, with the engraved Christogram IHS and the year 1797. It seems as if a former washboard or fulling/felting board has been shortened and re-used as washing beetle. Length 17.32".


Wooden washboard or fulling/felting board with the Christogram IHS, a Virgin Mary Monogram and the year 1742. Length 28,34". Styria, Austria. Fulling or tucking or walking ("waulking" in Scotland) is a step in woolen clothmaking which involves the cleansing of cloth (particularly wool) to eliminate oils, dirt, and other impurities, and making it thicker. With felting boards or washboards the rubbing technique is used for fulling. The fabric is rubbed across the board until it has shrunk as much as possible.

Waschrumpel_Maria_Monogramm / Itemized Virgin Mary Monogram
Itemized Virgin Mary Monogram.
Mangle boards (or mangling boards) from Styriato smooth the laundry. The mangle board is pressed tightly on the linen that is wrapped around a wooden roller and rolled with as much force as possible. Left: Mangle board with Virgin Mary Monogram, the Christogram IHS, the initials S W and W M and the year 1841 carved into the wood. Length 29,13". Right: Mangle board with the Christogram IHS, the initials I R and the year 1859. Length 24,40".
Wooden mangle board / washboard or fulling/felting board with the Christogram IHS and the year 1823. Length 26.18". Styria, Austria.
Turned rolling pin from Styria, Austria. Length 24,40".
Mangelbrett und Rollholz

Mangle board with turned rolling pin. Length of the roller 35,42".


Mangle board and rolling pin from Burgenland with Hungarian inscription. Translation: Made by Jozsef Kecskés in the year 1822 for Marika. Length of the mangling board 27.16"; Length of the rolling pin 20.86".

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