Is this spinning wheel really this valuable?

beboJune 28, 2009

Hello folks.

We took this spinning wheel to an appraiser. She said it was a flax wheel and she just loved it. She said it was unusual in that it had all of its parts and especially that it actually works, although it's kind of wobbly so it could use some tightening up. Anyway, she said it was made probably sometime between 1850 and 1880 and that we should ask $700 to $900 if we want to sell it.

Now, we have no reason to doubt her, but when I look on the web, I can't find a single spinning wheel selling for more than about $350. So I just thought it would be good to get some other opinions.

Thanks very much.

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I guess I would say, why did you pay an appraiser if you don't have confidence in her knowledge?
I am no spinning wheel expert....but simply looking at wheels pictured on the web and this one and I can see that the turnings are much more interesting. Also I do know that there are different configurations for spinning wheels and this may be rare.
You hired an appraiser....believe her....or not. Do your own home work.
I would attempt to find people who spin ands end photos and ask.
I know Kovel's site has some wheels listed....but you havet o "join" to see the information.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 5:22PM
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Lindac, do you have any idea how many people paid Bernie Madoff (millions of dollars) for his expert advice? Just because someone makes their opinions available at a price doesn't mean they're always right.
Have you ever heard the advice "Get a second opinion"?
Have you ever heard the advice "Get three estimates"?
I wasn't asking for your opinion of me, and I don't appreciate your criticisms. "Do my own home work?" I'm doing it. Since you're "no spinning wheel expert," leave it to people who are.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 7:34PM
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Hang on to it. It's beautiful and will be worth more later on the market than it is today. It's the economy -- we're all suffering from the down fall, and have to put aside things that would be worth more otherwise. If you really want to unload it, be prepared to get what people are willing to pay in today's market.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 9:03PM
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That's why I never hire an appraiser.....
But if I did, I would make sure to question qualifications, ask how they came to the evaluation....and be sure they charge by the hour...NOT by the value of the items you have appraised. my entire post...please. My point was, if you hired an appraiser, why are you not prepared to believe what they tell you?
Linda c

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 9:53PM
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Hi bebo, I agree, never cling to one person's advice as gospel and golden, whether it be an appraiser, physician or message board. ;-)

It's a lovely spinning wheel, someday I would love to have one (they turn up in my rural home town on occasion, not as high as 700-900, more like $400 at most, but they were not as nice looking as yours either). I'm inclined to agree with annie's thoughts.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 9:16AM
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Annie's post should be the "readmefirst" for most things right now, IMO. It's getting silly. Even my 11 y.o. daughter, a beginning collector (mostly neopets she can sell and signed studio glass paperweights), is noticing that there's not anywhere near as much on eBay as usual to compare her finds to.

So we're using this time to accumulate our collections rather than to sell. Buy low, sell high, right? :) It's "buy low" time. Unless you really need the money now, or are afraid that beautiful spinning wheels will go down in value in the future (a possible issue with neopets), I'd keep it. Maybe use her valuation for insurance?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 12:10PM
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There's a big difference between Madoff and even legit financial advisers who work with intangibles and those who appraise hard goods. Spinning wheels on Ebay etc., almost always turn out to be reproductions, or cobbled together from bits and pieces of real ones. Was there much hand spinning after 1850?

If you had no confidence in the appraiser, you could find another one, or seek out information from museums, etc. Of course, what an authentic flax wheel is worth and what someone is willing to pay might be rather far apart.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 12:30PM
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Hi Bebo:

I totally understand what you were asking for. I googled antique spinning wheel and came up with a few links for you to look at. Here's one for sale on a popular site for $650.00,antique-spinning-wheel,1673106.html

Here is a great website that shows several antique spinning wheels and good information on all the different types:
And here is one more site with a lot of information for you to research:

If you're anywhere near a big city, try taking it to a few antique dealers and see what they say. Usually if it's a dealer you're familiar with, they will offer free advice.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 1:15PM
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OK -- I collect antiques and I spin and YES!! that wheel is worth every dime of $700-900. I'm worried about the keyboard, I am drooling so much!!!!!

A starting point for an inexpensive new wheel is about $400. Google "Rick Reeves" spinning wheels and you will see beautiful hand-made wheels go for $500-2000. Yours.... looks like that quality of wheel.

The big problem with antique spinning wheels is the lack of available parts -- bobbins particularly that will fit. And repairs need to be done by a knowledgeable person and that can be hard to find.

Hand spinning is huge at the moment. Google etsy and search hand-spun yarn. But I would hold on to it --- its really not a good time to sell.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 8:41AM
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Comparing that wheel to the run of the mill spinning wheels you find on ebay is like comparing a vintage Rolls Royce to a list of used cars.

The first clue to its value is the fact that it is all intact and ready to use. Most of the spinning wheels you find in antique stores, yard sales or on Ebay are at best, incomplete and good for little more than a decoration.

The second, and perhaps the most important clue to the price you were quoted is the fact that it is a "Flax Wheel".

Flax was used to produce linen thread, which was later woven into linen fabric. Generally only the more affluent people could even afford linen fabric. Most home spinning in early times was done by spinning wool, which produced a much larger yarn, and a courser fabric.

Understanding that a basic wool spinning wheel was a mainstay in nearly all homes whereas a Flax wheel was sort of rare in those days, it then stands that a flax wheel in good working order should fetch top dollar on any collectors market.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 2:04PM
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Wool was spun on a flax wheel but flax could not be spun on a wool wheel because to spin flax, 2 hands were needed to twist and smooth the fiber and the "great wheel" had no treadle and needed one hand to turn the wheel. A wheel made mainly for flax often would have a little indentation in the wood to hold water for the spinner to moisten her fingers.
Flax was a major crop in the early days of the U. S....particularly before the invention of the cotton gin. It didnt' require slave labor to grow, had a short growing season and could be grown in the northern states, unlike cotton. Linen fabric was certainly not for the rich only, what do you suppose people used for non wool fibers before the South began growing lots of cotton? The oil from the seeds was linseed oil and used in furniture finishes.
Flax is a major crop today in one of the Dakotas, but mainly for the oil and seed since our recent interest in all things omega 3.
A field of blooming flax is a beautiful thing.
As to the wheel being unusually complete, I don't see a distaff....but the design and workmanship is beautiful. Look at those pegged fittings.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 3:02PM
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If this spinning wheel was really made ca 1850, and is working condition, I would think the $800 is not too much, but then, I am not a collector or an apraiser. (My daughter owns a spinning wheel and uses it for demonstrations.) It does have an element of old construction: it uses a bare wood bearing for the main wheel. Wheels built in more modern times may have metal sleeve bearings, and recent models may have ball bearings on the spindle. The frame is all peg and hole construction. Lovely turnings were used for the spokes of the wheel.

Your wheel has a horizontal frame which is unusual. Most spining wheels that I have seen have a tilted frame.

Currently, there are a few new spinniing wheels being made by craftsmen for their friends and limited sale. Some are copies of old designs, so be on the lookout for these. These copies should sell for $200 to $400 based on the amount of labor envolved. A wheel masde of high quality wood and design may command a higher price.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 4:28PM
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