Monday, December 7, 2015

Smoothing Out this Mystery: Another Artifact Revealed!

We had a few guesses for this artifact, including a mud trowel, and a couple speculations about it being the "principal's paddle." The truth is perhaps not so exciting as these guesses. 

This artifact is “smoothing board” or a “mangle board.” Its function is similar to that of an iron, that is, to smooth out the wrinkles in a piece of fabric. But they weren’t used in the same way as irons. Instead of just pushing down on the fabric on a flat surface, a mangle board was used in conjunction with a roller, a large cylinder of wood not unlike a rolling pin.

To use it, you would press down hard on the mangle board while pushing the roll back and forth.
This also sometimes help to squeeze out moisture. They eventually became obsolete with the popularity of irons and the mechanization of laundry in general.

Were you wondering why there are all those designs on our artifact? Are you now? Well, if you were/are, the reason is: these types of boards seem to have commonly been a courtship or wedding gift for a woman, and may have even been carved by a groom for his bride-to-be. Our example is not quite as elaborate as many could be. This other smoothing board in our collection is pretty neat.


Many more intricate examples can be seen in the preview of this book “Mangleboards of Northern Europe” here.  (or they can be seen in a google image search for mangle boards). They really are worth a look! And so beautiful for such a functional and useful tool. 

Come visit us to see this and other past mystery artifacts as well as our super neat exhibits! As always, thanks for reading.

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