Shaker Museum

Comb, Textile

Worsted comb, Center Family, Mount Lebanon, NY


Object ID

Worsted wool comb with cherry handle and brass reinforcement bent, soldered, and screwed around the handle base, through which 47 steel tines are inserted in two tiers. The inner tier has 23 tines slightly shorter than the 24 tines in the outer tier. Handle with fitted hole of brass or steel in the end, and a brass fitted hole in one side. "2. 1851" stamped on the brass area.


Hand-processed wool is either carded or combed. Short fiber wool is carded and spun into yarn for knitting, crocheting, and weft for weaving items such as blankets. Long fiber wool, worsted, is combed using a pair of wool combs. Because of the long fibers, worsted yarn is strong and has a much smoother surface than yarn produced from carded wool. Worsted is used for warps on looms and for weaving cloth that is to have a smooth surface. To use the worsted combs, the iron teeth on the combs are heated, with one comb mounted in a special bracket. The wool is combed from the mounted comb to the comb held in the hand. In the process the heat straightens the natural crimp (staple) of the wool fiber and unwanted dirt and short fibers are removed. The combs are then reversed and the process repeated until the wool is ready to spin. This comb is stamped with the date, "1851," and the numeral "2." Another comb, [1950.28.1] is stamped with the letter "S." The two combs are probably a pair. While the significance of the "2" and letter "S" has yet to be determined, the date 1851 likely refers to the year the combs were made, in fact, a Center Family journal from Mount Lebanon [1] reports that Richard Bushnell Woodrow was "engaged about making some new combs for the sisters to comb with this season." Woodrow, known to be a wood worker and mechanic is the likely maker of this pair of worsted combs. Other items in the museum's collection, a beam augur stamped with the date "1851" and the initials "R.W.", and a shoemaker's bench are know to have been made by Woodrow. [1] Warren Chace and Ovando J. Hollister, "Center Family, [Mount Lebanon, NY,] Journal, [1848-1857]." NOC 8831: May 14, 1851, p. 139.



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Shaker Museum Comb, Textile. Accessed on May 21, 2022


Woodrow, Richard



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