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H5471 Harvesting tools, jointed flails (2), handmade, wood/leather, unknown maker, probably made in New South Wales and used in New South Wales, Australia, 1800s. Click to enlarge.

Two jointed flails for hand threshing wheat

Made in Taralga, New South Wales, 1840-1850.

One of the earliest methods of removing the seed from the wheat stalks, called threshing, was with a jointed flail. The harvested stems of wheat were spread onto the floor of a barn or other flattened area and a group of men with flails would literally beat the grain from the ears of wheat with the beaters. The barn doors were left open and the natural draft blew out some of the waste.

The design for this timber tool is thousands of years old and comprises a long timber handle hinged with a uni...

Summary

Object No.

H5471

Object Statement

Harvesting tools, jointed flails (2), handmade, wood/leather, unknown maker, probably made in New South Wales and used in New South Wales, Australia, 1800s

Physical Description

Harvesting tools, jointed flails (2), handmade, wood/leather, unknown maker, probably made in New South Wales and used in New South Wales, Australia, 1800s

These two jointed flails are hand beating tools for threshing harvested wheat. They comprise two parts, a turned timber handle, 5 ft (1.5 m) long, and a timber beater, 3 ft (0.9 m) long. The beater is thicker at the free end and is connected to the handle with a leather thong which passes through a loop at the head of the handle.

There is also an incomplete flail (or some other implement) consisting of only one staff, with turned wood ends.

Production

Made

Taralga, New South Wales 1840-1850

Made

Picton, New South Wales, Australia 19th Century

Notes

English flails were often made of different timbers. Ash was the favoured wood used for the handle while the beater was holly or blackthorn. These were hard, heavy and close grained woods. The loop in the handle would have been made by steaming a piece of timber, probably ash, into shape and lashing it on. The thong was then passed through the loop, loosely connecting the beater to the handle.

These two flails were donated to the Museum by different people at different times. According to donor information they were both made in NSW. One was reported to have been made in Wilton, near Picton. At its time of acquisition in 1937 the Museum's Economic Botanist identified it as being made of Eucalyptus Hemipholia, or Box, and Casuarina Cunninghamiana or River Oak. The leather was identified as cowhide by the lecturer-in-charge of the Tanning School of Sydney Technical College.

The other flail was reported by its donor at the time of acquisition, in 1944, to have been made in the Taralga District of New South Wales in about 1840-1850. Mr Strom stated that he got the flail from a man who was 90 years old. The flail had been made by his father when he was a young man, thus dating the flail to about 1840-1850.

History

Notes

The flails were donated to the Museum by Mr J.M. Colver of Minto, New South Wales in 1937 and Mr E Strom in 1944. Letters from the donors suggest these flails could date back to the first half of the nineteenth century.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Mr F Colver, 1937 and Mr E Strom, 1944

Acquisition Date

29 August 1955

Cite this Object

Harvard

Two jointed flails for hand threshing wheat 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 11 December 2019, <https://ma.as/243398>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/243398 |title=Two jointed flails for hand threshing wheat |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=11 December 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in The Steam Revolution at the Powerhouse Museum.

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