Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bet You'll Never Guess . . . .

 . . . what this week's mystery artifact might be!  The object is made of two pieces of wood tied together with a sturdy piece of rope threaded through two holes on each piece of wood:

The object can be opened to reveal an oval hollowed-out space on one side and an egg-shaped protrusion on the other:

It appears to be handmade.  I will even give you a tiny hint - it has nothing whatsoever to do with Halloween!  (Try as I might, I was not able to find any Halloween-related objects in our collection).

Take your best guess and post it in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.  Good luck!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fluting Iron

We had a few really great guesses on Facebook this week. Both Lorelei and Jessie suggested that this was some kind of (dangerous) hair crimper. Lorelei also suggested that this might be a pasta machine (which is what this reminds me of most). The correct answer came from Jenifer, who said it was for pleating fabric.

This week’s artifact is called a fluting iron, and it is indeed meant to create tiny pleats in strips of fabric. This model is from 1875, and just looking at fashion plates from the era, you can tell why these machines were popular. Tiny pleats were everywhere in women’s fashion: along the hems of dresses, on collars, bonnets, and just about anywhere else they could manage to squeeze on some pleated trim.
From the Godey's Lady's Book
There were many different models of fluting iron available, even some that actually looked like irons and worked by sandwiching the fabric between the zig-zagging face of the iron and a matching plate. 

The model featured in our mystery artifact post worked by turning the handle to run a strip of fabric between the spinning wheels (actually rather like a pasta machine, if you've ever used one of those). If you want to read more about these neat little machines, I highly recommend this post from the Montgomery County Historical Society's blog. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cranking out the Mystery Artifacts

What can I say? I really like finding these cool old machines in the collection. What do you think it could be? Let us know either here or on our Facebook.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rope Machine

We had two correct guesses on this one! Both an Anonymous commenter on our blog, and Brent on our Facebook page knew that this was indeed a rope maker.

According to our database, this particular rope maker was from 1901. Just a little bit of Googling helped me figure out that this is a Bucklin rope maker, patented November 12, 1901.
Image from the patent, viewable here.
According to the text from the patent, "the object of the [rope making machine] is to provide simple and effective means whereby rope can be quickly made by hand from lengths or strands of cord, twine, and the like, and is particularly intended for use by farmers who have lengths or strands of cord and twine left over from binding-machines or other similar devices, which are usually wasted", probably making this a very handy invention. Just judging by the number of these that seem to have lasted to the present day, it must have been both a sturdy and popular choice.

The rope maker works by using three hooks, attached to the geared portions, to twist the chosen materials into rope. Here is a rather charming demonstration we found from an Edwardian farm, demonstrating the same principles on a larger, slightly different machine.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mystery Artifact

Another week, another mystery artifact! Any guesses what this gadget could be for? Post your answers in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.