Two months ago we saw an unusual Rappard Northern European, though now it’s clear that I shouldn’t have called it ‘unique’. Now, after some discussion on Ravelry and some checking back through my files, there are six Northern Europeans with a slashed-arrow mark! Here is the earliest one, of the normal type, dated (by carving in straight lines with some sort of chisel) to (19)68!
The next is the wheel with the finials, dated 1973.
And another three of the normal Northern European style with the slashed arrow mark have come to light (so far) dated 1974, 1978 and 1981.
I nearly weep when I remember Maria showing me this first wheel John ever made, and that I never thought to ask her if I might look underneath. There is no design on the treadle.
I’m now wondering whether there are actually any Northern Europeans without the arrow … If you have one, please could you turn it over and see what mark (if any) is underneath? And let me know what you find?
And then, in one of those wonderful pieces of sheer coincidence that seem to happen so often with spinning wheels, there was a post in Ravelry from the puzzled owner of this:
I was excited. For years I’d been wondering about the photo in this little flyer someone gave me. You can click on it to enlarge.
I asked the owner please to look for any markings under her wheel. This was the reply:
The slashed arrow and initials, on a Peggy! And look at the year – 1969! Since then she has kindly sent more photos of her wheel. Here is a comparison with a Peggy (on the right) from the early 1970s –
Among the differences from the ‘normal’ Little Peggies that we know and love are (starting at the bottom):
the fancy ankles,
the slightly more angular treadle,
the straight, stick-like spokes,
the unusually shaped segments of the drive wheel (visible in the first photo of the wheel, above; this continued for another two or three years),
the less curvy main support posts,
the straighter mother-of-all with its flat ends,
and above all the maidens, which lack the graceful curves that we are used to seeing in all Rappard wheels.
Actually we can catch a tantalising glimpse of maidens like these on a little photograph Maria gave me of the very first Northern European, which was no longer in her possession –
So I am imagining that after making the first one or two Little Peggies, John took a photo to be used in a leaflet. And that about that time Maria, who never hesitated to speak her mind, told him in no uncertain terms how the turnings could be improved on the Northern Europeans. She also pointed out how Little Peggy should be redesigned to be more attractive. But the new leaflets were being printed by then and were sent out with the old picture. (That’s just a story I made up, but I don’t think anyone who knew them would find it implausible.)
There’s still the question of why John used the slashed arrow for his mark. Sagittarius, as we saw, doesn’t fit. Apparently an arrow with slashes is used to indicate an unsuccessful reaction in organic chemistry, but he wouldn’t have wanted an implication of failure!
The arrow is still a mystery.
A huge thankyou to everyone who has sent me pictures or taken part in the discussion of these fascinating wheels!