Mystery Device
February 14, 2015 2:18 PM   Subscribe

What is this intriguing device I noticed at a friend's house? Friend has no idea. It's about 6 inches in length. It was patented by Holland Mfg of Willamantic, CT, and a Google search suggests it might have something to do with 19th century silk manufacturing. Ideas?
posted by baseballpajamas to Technology (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is this it (top item)? A fishing fly line strength tester?
posted by jessamyn at 2:34 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah that's it.
posted by jessamyn at 2:38 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

That is a cool find that says a lot about regional history. Have a Google for "New England silk industry" or "New England silk manufacturing." This was a big get-rich-not-so-quick dream for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuriesthat the US could stop expensively importing Chinese silk and get in on the game making silk domestically. Silkworms were sold via mail order to farmers and people were encouraged to take up silk farming as a cottage industry. It pops up all over New England several times in several locations. IT's why we still have so many mulberry trees today.

Check out Smith College's history of the Northampton's Silk Industry, Silk in America, and here is something on Connecticut's Mulberry Craze, from CTHistory.
posted by Miko at 2:54 PM on February 14, 2015 [10 favorites]

Oh dig, Willimantic is actually called the "Thread City!"
posted by Miko at 2:59 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I grew up in Willimantic, and yes, this sounds right. There's a whole museum of textile history near the old mill if you find yourself in the area - maybe writing them for more info if you're curious about its use would be fun.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:02 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

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