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String Reel

ca.1760-1840
Origin: America or England
Overall: 16 1/4 x 7 1/4 x 3/4in. (41.3 x 18.4 x 1.9cm)
Wrought iron
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1964-41
Wrought iron reel composed of two components. "I" shaped string carriage with incurving side bars, a knop-topped, round-section winding handle on one end of top bar and a flat, blade shaped brake on the opposite side of the bottom bar. The carriage spins on a round section post, and is retained by the riveted end of the same. Lower portion of post flattens and broadens into a blade, with a rounded point at the bottom.
Label:Whether laying out beds of fruits and vegetables for the kitchen or more complicated plans for an ornamental garden, a line and reel made the process easy and the rows neat. Wound with a good length of string and stuck into the ground, straight lines of any span could be unreeled as needed and then reeled back up just as easily. The blade set on the bottom of the string carriage would be pushed into the ground to act as a lock, preventing any further line from being withdrawn.