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Current Issue: #46 - October 2004

In this issue we learn about an often-over-looked element of great wheels, the simple spindle head. A study of two Canadian pendulum wheels brings us back to patented moving-spindle spinning wheels. Early American inventories are searched for spinning wheels and a well-known wheel collector is remembered.


Of Bat's Heads and Direct-Drive Spindles
by Michael Holcomb

Michael Holcomb of New Hope, PA, describes the characteristics of bat's head and direct-drive spindle heads for great wheels, using examples from his own extensive wheel collection. Close analysis of some of the wheel heads provides an answer to the question of how the tension on a drive band could be adjusted, even when there is no tensioning device on the wheel.

A diminutive but carefully crafted bat's head with braided corn-husk bearings held by thorns, signed on the back
Fig. 1. A diminutive but carefully crafted bat's head with braided corn-husk bearings held by thorns, signed on the back "Sarah J.(?)"

A rarity‹a signed bat's head, presumably by its maker, Peter Hetchel of New Jersey. The spindle is held in place by two small wooden spools secured in turn by leather bearings.
Fig. 4. A rarity -- a signed bat's head, presumably by its maker, Peter Hetchel of New Jersey. The spindle is held in place by two small wooden spools secured in turn by leather bearings.

A classic New England direct-drive spindle, with beautifully turned maidens, modestly decorated with rope burnings while turned on the lathe
Fig. 7. A classic New England direct-drive spindle, with beautifully turned maidens, modestly decorated with rope burnings while turned on the lathe

Fig. 9. A partially reconstructed fixed direct-drive spindle on a heavy Pennsylvania German great wheel.
Fig. 9. A partially reconstructed fixed direct-drive spindle on a heavy Pennsylvania German great wheel.

 

Two Canadian Pendulum Wheels
by Alvin Ramer

When Alvin Ramer of Colborne, ON, obtained his second patented pendulum wheel, he looked at the Canadian patents and the examples in the Kirk Collection to figure out how to restore them. While overall the two wheels are similar, their differences are significant, as are the dates of their patents.

Photo #1 - Elijah Glendillen 1868 Patent Pendulum Wheel
Photo #1 - Elijah Glendillen 1868 Patent Pendulum Wheel

Photo #2 - Lucas and Lyon 1866 Patent Pendulum Wheel
Photo #2 - Lucas and Lyon 1866 Patent Pendulum Wheel

 

How Pendulum Wheels Work

Drawings by Patricia Hilts of Marshall, WI, illustrate how a pendulum wheel works.

Step 3. Length of yarn spun: spindle near end of pendulum swing
Step 3. Length of yarn spun: spindle near end of pendulum swing

 

Spinning Wheels in Old Inventories
by Michael Taylor

Over the years, Michael Taylor and his friend and coauthor David Pennington have had a running debate on whether a spinning wheel is a tool or a piece of furniture. In an effort to prove his side of the argument, Michael studied two books that give inventories of early American homes. He made some interesting discoveries.

 

Remembering Joan Cummer

Joan Cummer, the well-known spinning-wheel collector passed away in June. We remember her and her contributions to our knowledge of spinning wheels.

Joan Cummer at book signing 1993- Courtesy of Anne Hennessy
Joan Cummer at book signing 1993
Courtesy of Anne Hennessy

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