Friday, April 12, 2013

Collecting Antique Tape Looms

Here is the most common form of a antique tape loom you will see for sale. A simple country piece, this was gripped between the knees and used to weave tapes. You might ask, what are tapes and why would you bother? Think back, way back to the early Colonial days. The Colonists did not have zippers and Velcro to hold their clothes together. And buttons had to be store bought with cash money, in short supply for most farmers. They used tapes, narrow strips of fabric to tie their clothes together, their shirts, pants, skirts etc. They also used tape to edge petticoats, and quilts and sometimes vests etc. Tape was usually woven at home by the ladies of the family. Tape looms were often portable, such as the one above so you could work were there was light, and you could carry them with you and visit with a friend while you worked. Tapes were usually made of linen or wool.

Here is a link to a darling video of a colonial lady weaving on her tape loom,
Here's another simple country model we had last year. Notice that one end is broken off, this is very very common to see. The wood is thin, and after time gets brittle. Notice also that this one has a brace across it. Again, it is very common to see these pieces broken and repaired. They were used hard and look how thin the slots are.
Again, looks like another simple country piece. But look below.
This one was covered with compass work, hearts, dates and initials. Someone loved this piece.
Here is a beauty, again a simple country piece, but this one has a great lollipop end, and a red wash. Made of chestnut, which is unusual. They were often pine, sometimes maple. Most are found in NE, and sometimes in PA. I've never seen one from somewhere south, but I'm sure they're out there. Notice if you can it has a brace at the bottom to hold the slits together.
Here we get into the realm of fantasy. There are some truly amazing works of art out there. This one has some old repairs, a figural form and a heart to boot. A lover's gift?
A small form, scratch carved, and dated. Swedish, I think.
Connecticut, c 1740, beautiful.
Pocket size, dated 1781, Scandinavian.
They made standing models too. Probably a little easier to use. I wish I could show you the one I had at Nashville, standing with a big heart shaped cutout. Sadly, no pictures. Sold too fast. I wonder why?
If you don't care for country, there are a few fancier models. Look at this one!
They also made table models as well, called box looms. These simple country forms are around.
Another box loom, this one in old paint. For some reason you almost never see tape looms in paint. Look at the love birds!
Here's a box loom on legs with treadles. Nice!
And if you want one to use, maybe a new one would be best. Craftsmen are still making them. I wonder how she wove that pattern?

I could not find a picture of the African ones that are now found on the antiques market. They're out there, they're very simple country pieces, with good color, but they are quite crudely made like the guy used a jack knife. They're old, but they're not American, so if you want one, don't pay too much.

How much is too much you ask. Simple country American ones sell for $300 up to maybe $800. Standing ones start at about $1,000. and go up. And add a date, a heart etc. and expect to pay more. For one of the truly unique finds I've shown, well you could buy a car instead. There was a beauty a few years ago covered in gorgeous chip carving and old blue paint, and I think it was about $30,000.

So there you go, everything you wanted to know about collection antique tape looms. Questions? You know where I am, so ask.