Looking Back: Bryce spinning wheel

West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 14, 2017

The Orchard Lake Museum has received two new acquisitions from the great-great-grandson of early local resident John Baptiste DeConick: a Victorian pram and a Bryce spinning wheel.

Former Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society board member and local spinner DuAnne Sonneville believes the Bryce spinning wheel to be a variation on a charkha, or table-top, spinning wheel. After a thorough cleaning, the name Bryce was visible in the cast iron. A Bryce spinning wheel is a small, light-framed, six-spoke wheel designed to clamp to a table or bench. The spinner turns the handle on the wheel with his or her right hand and drafts the wool with the left.

John Bryce, of Grand Haven, applied for patents in both Canada and the U.S. in 1872 for a wheel that he described as a “certain new and useful improvement on ... spinning wheels.” 

These wheels were in use 1873-1900, per the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which also has a Bryce spinning wheel. According to Bryce, “the object of the invention is to improve the construction of such spinning wheels by making them run with less noise, by rendering the working parts more perfectly adjustable, and by diminishing the cost of construction, while at the same time making the machine more durable and neater in appearance than heretofore.” 

The spinning wheel has been restored to working order. Visitors to the Orchard Lake Museum will find this and other artifacts related to local history in display. The museum is open 1-4 p.m. the second Sunday of each month or by appointment.

— Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society