Discoveries!

It has been an exciting time for this compulsive enquirer-into-spinning-wheels. We have two new makers! There’s almost no information about them (yet – can you help?) but we know their names and their wheels.

The first is H.Henderson, who made this double-table wheel in 1976. It was his 15th, but we know nothing more about him. The wheel turned up in a charity shop in Wanganui, with no history – so thank goodness for a maker who did us the favour of putting a metal plate with date, name and number on the drivewheel end of the table.

Henderson wheel

The maidens are fixed in the mother-of-all by little wooden knobs, which need to be removed to turn the maidens to remove the flyer and change the bobbin.

We can’t tell where it was made. Wheels are great travellers, so its Wanganui findspot is not much of a clue. Does anyone know of a Mr H. Henderson who made wheels in the 1970s? Full details and more photos of the wheel are on the website.

The second discovery is a solution to a mystery which has been tantalising me for several years. It happened (as so often in this game) by a series of lucky coincidences. Remember the “wide table wheels I wrote about in August?

Well, we can now call them Nicholson wheels.

How do we know the name? The trail started some months ago with one that came with a history that it had been made for a lady called Addis in Napier, who had designed it. This was verbal information, not written,, so it could have been Adis or Eddis or something else that sounded like that. However, in the White Pages I found a few Addises in Hawkes Bay and contacted them, and learned about Nina Addis, a skilled fibrecrafter there years ago.

Nicholson wheel type 1

That came to a dead end until I was looking for something else entirely, in photocopies I made years ago of documents held by the Historical Society of Eastbourne. They have among their treasures the records of the “Jolly Spinners” who later became the Eastbourne spinners: Aileen Stace’s group, who contributed so much first to the war effort and then to the encouragement of spinning in New Zealand. Miss Stace wrote Annual Reports, chatty accounts of the groups’s activities and also of anything else that caught her attention. She always paid close attention to what makers of wheels were producing.

In her report for 1967 she wrote: “Three new makers of wheels appeared during the year. (She then mentions Beauchamp and Nagy) … the third is a large tall wheel of a style we haven’t seen before, which is being made by a Mr Nicholson of Waipawa with aid and encouragement from Mrs Addis, I don’t think he will be able to keep the price to L14 for very long there’s a lot of work in them, they are most attractive and work well too.”

Cautious people might say more confirmation is needed, but this is good enough for me!

Nicholson wheel type 2

I wonder whether there was a change from the spoked wheel to the cutout wheel in order to reduce the cost and work of production? This is supported (or at least not contradicted) by the spoked wheel that belonged to Mrs Addis. Presumably if she was advising on the design, her wheel would have been one of the first made. I put this theory (with photos) to Mike Keeves, maker of the lovely Grace wheels, and he agrees – he points out that the turning on the wheel with cutouts is crisper and more elaborate: the maker developing his skill?

Again, for more details about these wheels see the website.

As so often, serendipity and sheer dumb luck have played a big part in these discoveries. An even bigger part was the help of interested and kind people. You know who you are – Thank You!

Note: this Mr Nicholson is not to be confused with the Mr Nicolson-with-no-h who made wheels during and after World War 2.

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