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2606 Granby Street
Norfolk, VA 23517

Painted flax hackle (double), German, c.1870s


Beautifully elaborate example of a flax hackle to make linen. A primitive farming tool from Germany around the 1860s or 1870s. Two iron circles with series of pins in the center of a thin wooden board. One circle has pins wider spaced than the other. Circles of pins are each five inches in diameter and about an inch and a half high. They are reinforced with circular wood bases. Board is painted with a red and black design and carved with large bull's eyes. Ends are concave and have a three-inch hole on each side.

This hackle is used to refine flax straw into linen. This is done in a fashion similar to carding wool. The flax is drawn through the wider spaced pins first to remove the rough straw exterior. It is then combed through the second set of pins in order to refine the flax fibers. These fibers are then spun into thread to make linen fabric. This example would have allowed the carder to sit down. The holes on either end would have fit on two poles on a special seat, effectively laying the board across the carder's lap. A very similar example of such a hackle has been found in a photograph of a woman carding flax in Saxony in the 1860s or 1870s.

This hackle is in good condition. Some cracking in the wood in places, but the board is in one piece. Grasses and flax straw can still be seen in the pins. Pins are oxidized but have very little rust. Painting is slightly worn and faded but motifs are quite visible. Measures 8 3/4 x 30 1/2 x 3 3/4 inches. Weighs 9 lbs 1 oz.


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