Wednesday, June 29, 2005

this muckle is mine

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Great Wheel, High Wheel, Wool Wheel, Walking Wheel, or Muckle it what you will, I am now owned by one!

This wheel came to me in an unusual manner, which leads me to believe that the Good Lord wanted me to have it....and I am so grateful to have such a treasure.  Apparently, the former owner was moving away and did not want to take it along, and so, they took it to an antique store and left it there with the understanding that they would be paid for it when it sold.  I happen to be a relative of someone who works with the owner of the shop...and knew that it was there, I had even seen the large distinctive wheel, but was not really drawn to it....(mostly because I live in a very small log cabin).
So, after several years, the wheel was still sitting there taking up space, no one had bought it, and the previous owners never came to claim any shop credit.  The owner of the shop was tired of tripping over it...and said that I could have it if I wanted to come and get it!  I could not believe my ears!
A few weeks ago, we made time to travel and pick up the wheel.  I noticed that it did not have a bobbin or spindle to spin from, but it did have a minors head that was in pretty good shape.  I happen to have a copy of Pennington and Taylors book (also a gift from said shop owner) and scanning the pages, I decided that it looked pretty much like a Shaker style of wheel.  I looked all over for some sort of marking, but found none.
Once I was home, I called Grace and Fred Hatton who live nearby.  Fred is a master wood turner, and has restored a Great Wheel, as well as 7 other Saxony Wheels (He makes weaving shuttles, threading hooks and yarn gauges that
he sells on can visit the store by clicking here.)
So, I packed up the wheel and took it over to their farm so they could take a good look at it.  They seemed to think it was a very nice wheel, and agreed that it was most likely Shaker.  They both think it is an older wheel because the hub is wooden, and so is the axel.  It looked like it might actually have the original capstans for the minors head.  The minors head would need repair.  Fred said that the bench looked to be made of Beech, while the rest of the wheel appeared to be Chestnut. There seemed to be a bit of a wobble when the wheel was turning, and on closer examination Fred discovered that the axel was quite worn, and would need replacing.  I would also need a spindle or bobbin to spin on.  He said he would restore the wheel for me so that I could get it spinning...and I was really excited about that prospect!  Of course he is very busy, and I will have to wait awhile for him to get to it (he is currently working on a loom for someone)...I am just so happy that it is going to spin again someday!....that is if I can figure out how to spin on it....
But the story gets better.  Before I left, I asked how to clean the wheel up.  The wood was very, very dry, and dirty with who knows what dust and dirt (which some refer to as patina).  He suggested that I use 1/2 turps. and 1/2 linseed oil on it.  So, this past weekend, I decided to get going on cleaning it up.  I started working on the bench and moved to the upright that holds the wheel.  I was using a luffa to rub it down with the mixture, and wiping it off with an old flannel diaper.  The wood was coming up a beautiful deep, rich, rust color, and I was admiring the grain, and noticing areas that had been worn down over the years.  Suddenly, I noticed some letters starting to appear!
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YEEEEEEAHAAAAAWWW!!!  I see a stamp!  The initials look like J A and then a little something else that I cannot make out.  How very cool.
Here is a picture of where the stamp is located...and then the photo has been enhanced to see the marking better.
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There is a JA who was a Sabbathday Lake Shaker...could this be one of his wheels?  I am now embarking on a quest to identify my wheel.  If anyone out there in the bloggersphere has any information on what JA could stand for or if you recognize this wheel...please contact me.
One more piece of news from life around the very good friend's daughter shipped out to Iraq.  Please pray for the safety of our troops.  Tomorrow we will make some cool ties to send off.  There should be a few of us working together, so I hope we get a lot accomplished.


Kim said...

What a beautiful, beautful wheel!!

Mark Lindsay said...

I know that this is an old post (like 11 years old) and you may have already seen this, or have figured out where your great wheel came from, but I may have an answer for you. JA - John Anderson. He was trustee of the Shaker communities of Alfred, ME and Sabbathday Lake, ME, and various wheels were made with his initials on them. This info comes from Spinning Wheel Sleuth, Issue 22, Michael Taylor, “Marks on Shaker Spinning Wheels” and here is my source:

cyndy said...

Thank you John, and yes, it would seem that the "JA" stamp may have belonged to John Anderson from Sabbathday Lake. My doubt stems from the placement of it. Most all of the stamps are found on the bench, I've never seen another one that was on the wheel post.

Appreciate your reference!

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