Tools, Machinery, and Workplace Artifacts

The Museum's collection of tools, machinery and workplace artifacts includes a broad range of objects from eighteenth century hand-powered tools and equipment to present-day factory machines. These objects were used in the production of textiles made of cotton, linen, silk, and wool, as well as synthetics. The collection includes spinning wheels, handlooms and power looms, knitting machines, carding machines, and spinning machines. There are also combs, reels, winders, shears, beamers, and twist counters,and other ancillary equipment and machines. In addition to tools and machinery, the collection includes thousands of items used in the workplace in categories ranging from communication devices to advertising displays, lighting, and lunch pails.

This spinning jack by Bickford & Lombard

This spinning jack by Bickford & Lombard in Worcester, Massachusetts about 1864. 1968.38.11.

This bell was cast by Revere and Son

This bell was cast by Revere and Son in Boston in 1802 for a church in Castine, Maine. It was purchased by the Stevens Mill in North Andover, Massachusetts, in 1831. 1961.23.

The collection of pre-industrial-period artifacts is extraordinarily complete, with numerous examples of the equipment for each stage in the process of producing linen, woolen, cotton, and worsted cloth. Along with the objects, The Museum documents machines' makers and users, regional styles and production techniques, domestic and professional output.

The Museum's industrial-period collection is simply unparalleled. While other institutions in the United States own select pieces of textile equipment, none of those collections approaches the breadth or depth of ATHM's holdings. Chronologically, the machinery ranges from 1810 to 1970, from water powered carding machines to shuttle-less looms. Understanding the equipment's operation leads to appreciation of the roles of the people involved, from inventor and builder to owner and operator, and ultimately to the significance of these machines to the larger society.

Carding machine made by Artemus Dryden, Jr.

Carding machine made by Artemus Dryden, Jr. in Holden, Massachusetts about 1825. This carding machine was used in the Hapgood mill in South Waterford, Maine. 1960.3.

Late 18th to-early 19th century loom

Late 18th to-early 19th century loom, most likely from New England. 1959.3.1.

For researchers, the collection offers a dimension not available elsewhere. It provides details of construction not recorded in drawings or patents, evidence of use and adaptation, operation, and insight into the meaning of changes in machines to both workers and managers involved with them.

Note: The Museum's Collections Department staff is available to researchers by appointment only and can respond only to phoned and mailed inquiries at this time.