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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Title:hatchel; hetchel
Date Made:1750-1840
Type:Textile Working Tool
Materials:base metal: iron; wood
Place Made:United States; New England
Measurements:Overall: 3 1/2 in x 19 1/4 in x 3 3/4 in; 8.9 cm x 48.9 cm x 9.5 cm
Accession Number:  HD 69.1120

Wooden hatchel with iron spikes. Hatchels, also known as hetchels, were used to comb flax fibers in preparation for spinning and weaving. The name comes from a late 15th-century English word (hackle) meaning to prick or pierce. The long iron teeth would align the flax fibers, separating out the shorter ones from the longer fibers desired for spinning into yarn for weaving linen. As many as five hatchels of increasingly finely spaced teeth could be used to refine the flax before spinning. This example is a finer hatchel, with the nails spaced closer together. Hatchels were used to straighten and grade the fibers in the processing of flax fibers for spinning into linen threads.

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