Spinning wheels make for unusual but decorative items

These spinning wheels are beautiful working examples
These spinning wheels are beautiful working examples
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Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn takes a look at some collectables on the spin...

Calling all princesses and princes: I’m sure my loyal royal followers will be aware of a very special anniversary this week. Incredibly, it’s 60 years since Disney released “Sleeping Beauty”, the animated film which spawned so many iconic images; even the fairy tale pinnacle castle which sits at the centre of Disneyland itself.

The tale of Sleeping Beauty has a long history, first recorded in the 12th century, and finding fame in the Brothers Grimm 1812 collection as the classic fairy tale of magic, treachery, and the triumph of love.

So this week I thought I’d feature the potent symbol of the story: the spinning wheel, upon which Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger, completing the curse. A spinning wheel is a device for spinning thread or yarn. Spinning wheels were first used in India, between 500 and 1000AD. At the heart of the domestic economy, many are still used in rural communities and cultures to this day.

A spinning wheel might not be an obvious choice as a decorative collectable, yet can bring the past to life in a way few other antiques can. As such they are sought after by collectors of “bygones” and rural crafts; even distinct signs of wear and repair only adds to their appeal. With the resurgence in popularity for home-crafted spinning, knitting, weaving and sewing, many people are now looking for working spinning wheels, and as there are few modern makers, working antique models (utilising the simplest engine, the wheel) have become highly prized.

Spinning wheels come in a huge variety of styles (as they were made by a myriad of individual craft workshops). They fetch decent, but not ludicrous, prices, especially for what they are.

Its sourcing them at all, or complete models, that is the tricky bit. Without detailed research, it can be hard to recognize an incomplete spinning wheel.

I’m sorry that we don’t have Beauty’s spinning wheel in the centre (or I could have retired to the Bahamas by now!), but we do have these beautiful working examples.

The brown one is made of beech wood, with a single action, and is priced at £150. The green one is a rare Swedish model with double and single spinning action for £250. Don’t fall asleep at the wheel, and like the old storytellers, you could end up spinning a yarn of utter beauty.