A common sight to DAR members, the DAR insignia was inspired by this spinning wheel, one of approximately 30,000 objects in the DAR Museum’s collection reflecting the material culture and social history of the United States prior to 1840.
Known as a treadle wheel, this type of spinning wheel is powered by a foot treadle and uses a bobbin instead of a sharp spindle. In early America, treadle wheels were also called linen wheels because spinners often used them to spin flax into linen. The larger hand-powered wheels with sharp spindles tended to be used for wool.
This model allows the spinner to use both hands to manipulate the fiber, drawing it out while the turning of the wheel twists it into thread or yarn. The tall distaff holds the fibers so that the spinner can easily pull them out in a continuous strand for twisting.
This example dates to about 1775–1825. As is typical of older wheels, the design combines oak, chestnut and maple woods with only a few metal and leather parts. While some of the smaller pieces—particularly the leather ones—may have been replaced, the entire spinning wheel is complete and in good condition. It could still be used to make yarn today.