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Title:hatchel; hetchel
Date Made:1750-1840
Type:Tool - Textile Working
Materials:wood, base metal:iron
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Shelburne area?
Measurements:overall: 15.875 cm x 64.77 cm x 17.145 cm; 6 1/4 in x 25 1/2 in x 6 3/4 in
Accession Number:  HD 67.127
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

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 aligned the flax fibers, separating out the shorter (tow) ones from the longer fibers desired for spinning into yarns suitable for weaving linen. As many as five hatchels of increasingly finely spaced teeth could be used to refine the flax before spinning. This example has square-shaped nails, four of which are missing. The arrangement and density of the iron nails on this example suggests a medium to coarse level of fineness.

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