Saxony wheel, late 18th century.


Small wooden spinning wheel and print of Lady Hamilton spinning, 1785-1850.

Small wooden Saxony spinning wheel, 1750-1800. This small wooden spinning wheel is designed to wind the thread onto the bobbin as fast as it is spun so that it operates continuously. This type of wheel was known as early as 1480 and was improved in the sixteenth century by the addition of a treadle drive, allowing the spinster to have both hands free to draw out the fibres in a controlled way. As it is very difficult to pay out short fibres evenly to prevent the thread from becoming too thin and parting, the Saxony wheel was used mainly for spinning long fibres such as flax and wool.

The thread enters a hole at the end of the spindle and passes out through a hole in the side and over a heck or hook on one of two curved arms, which together constitute the flyer, and then on to the bobbin. The flyer and bobbin are free to turn independently and are provided with pulleys of different diameter. The driving cord passes twice round the wheel and once around each pulley, so that the bobbin in this case revolves more rapidly around the flyer.

The spinster draws with one hand a small amount of fibres from the bunch attached to the rod known as the distaff and feeds them out between finger and thumb to the twisting yarn being formed by the rotation of the spindle and flyer. As the bobbin turns faster than the flyer, the yarn is continuously wound up on it. From time to time the yarn is continuously wound up on it. From time to time the yarn is transferred to another hook so that the bobbin is filled evenly and eventually the flyer is unscrewed to allow the full bobbin to be removed.

This spinning wheel dates from the secondary half of the 18th century.

Related people


Textiles Machinery
Object Number:
spinning wheels
Bennet Woodcroft Bequest

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