Issue #92 - April 2016

View The Highlights & Photographs From This Issue.

In this issue we learn about a colorful wheel maker from New Zealand. Examples of two mid-19th-century patented tabletop spinning wheel designs are compared. A small model of a track wheel is studied to see if it matches any known patents. We look at two examples of unusual double-flyer spinning wheels that are also found as illustrations on old postcards.


Alan Brenkley: A Colorful Spinning-Wheel Maker in New Zealand

Mary Knox was surprised to find a highly decorated spinning wheel by Alan Brenkley in Waipawa, New Zealand. She tells us about him and his wheels, as well as his Norwegian heritage and the folk-art tradition in his family.

Decorated upright wheel by Alan Brenkley
Decorated upright wheel by Alan Brenkley

Detail of wheel
Detail of wheel

Horizontal wheel by Alan Brenkley
Horizontal wheel by Alan Brenkley

Main's and Bryce's Patent Wheels

Inventors and patent holders in the 1860s and 70s often "borrowed" or "improved upon" other people's designs. Michael Taylor compares the tabletop spinning wheels patented by William Main and John Bryce. He shows the different types of wheels that Main designed and how Bryce improved on them.

Main wheel type 3
Main wheel type 3

Bryce wheel
Bryce wheel

A Track Wheel Model

When Scott Hubbard found a distinctive model, he figured out that it was a model of a moving-spindle track type of spinning wheel. He contacted me, and we looked at a few patents to see if the model matched any of them. He describes the model and discusses the different questions that it raises.

Model of track wheel
Model of track wheel

A Wheel Marked IOHN BROWN and a Postcard

Gary Boratto found an unusual double-flyer wheel marked IOHN BROWN. He was unable to figure out who this maker was or where he was from. However, he did find a close match to his wheel in an illustration for a well-known poem on an early 20th-century postcard.

Double-flyer spinning wheel marked IOHN BROWN
Double-flyer spinning wheel marked IOHN BROWN

IOHN BROWN mark
IOHN BROWN mark

Illustration for Longfellow's poem,
Illustration for Longfellow's poem, "The Courtship of Miles Standish"

A Swiss Flax Wheel Donation

Although the spinning wheels shown in early 20th-century postcards are often just props, sometimes the postcards can provide useful information. Susan Hector was asked to restore a double-flyer spinning wheel by a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She explains how, with help from a photographic postcard and a painting, she found that it was, in fact, a Swiss-style flax wheel.

Double-flyer Swiss upright flax wheel
Double-flyer Swiss upright flax wheel

Painting by Albert Anker 1883
Painting by Albert Anker 1883