Posted 4 years ago
I just came across Anything Obscure's post of a flax breaker which he called a "hemper." I thought he might like this associated tool, an unusual Round hetchel (Pa. Dutch), or "heckle," a.k.a "flax comb" (most are rectangular) ca. 1800. This one is probably European. The head is six inches in diameter and the spikes are about 3 3/4" long. In use it would have been fastened on a bench, through a hole, using the ram's horn nut on the bottom of the bench and the wooden plate seen in pic #4 as a washer.
From the Online Etymological Dictionary:
heckle (v.): early 14c., "to comb (flax or hemp) with a heckle;" from heckle (n.) or from related Middle Dutch hekelen. Figurative meaning "to question severely in a bid to uncover weakness" is from late 18c. "Long applied in Scotland to the public questioning of parliamentary candidates" [OED]. Presumably from a metaphor of rough treatment, but also compare hatchel "to harass" (1800), which may be a variant of hazel, the name of the plant that furnished switches for whippings. Related: Heckled; heckling.