Just in time for harvest…..I would like to present this fabulous apple peeler /parer that is not only rare and unique but is accompanied by a small wooden bowl, dried apples, old spoon and a piece of aged cheesecloth…..all included!
Apple trees were first introduced to America in the 17th century by colonists who considered the apple an important staple. During the 18th and 19th centuries apples were prominently used in both food and drink especially for the cold winter months. They needed to be processed by paring, coring and cutting which was a very time consuming and difficult task. The invention of the apple peeler during the late 17th century saved hours of work as the apples could now be either sliced and strung up to dry by the open hearth or used in apple sauce or apple butter by way of “cooking them down”.
This uncommon peeler was undoubtably hand made by someone on a farm as a necessity when harvest time arrived. These parers were also brought to fairs where they were shared at “Apple Paring Bees” every fall season. Superstition states that young unmarried women would stare at peel scraps in search of their future husbands’ initials.
This particular handmade, simplistic version of an apple peeler is known as a “Lathe Peeler” which indicates it was one of the earliest types developed. The primitive design includes a crank to rotate the apple (placed in the iron fork) along with the use of a hand guided paring knife. I am just so taken with this pre~civil war era piece as it not only survived after all these years but that the condition is also exemplary!
The wood has the most desirable and rich patina that one can swoon over closely resembling a deep nutmeg color with highlights of darker areas sprinkled about as shown in images 4 & 5. Originally there were no nails used in the construction as this piece was mortised joined as shown in images 12 & 21. Reinforced forged nails were used at a later date on the sides to secure the horizontal supports. The crank turns freely and moves the fork to spin the apple at will.
The edges show evidence of age related wear and there is a tight hairline crack on either side of the nails. This piece was fashioned from pine and the gentle curved form located on the right side creates interest as shown in images 2, 4 & 5. There are no major chips or cracks to report.
I found an old small, footed bowl that holds three dried apple slices along with a spray of Sweet Annie that is consistent with the theme of this unusual peeler. A piece of aged cheesecloth was placed underneath to soften the look and add another color value. A wooden spoon rests inside the bowl and is lighter in color which provides contrast. Of course a tiny insect found this bowl quite attractive as he landed on it while I was doing this photo shoot outside as shown in image 28! The bowl was fashioned from maple and the color is warm and pleasing.
This apple gathering is just wonderful and would look perfect set on top of a shelf in your pantry or what about using it on a table with a stoneware bowl placed nearby filled with crisp, sweet apples that can be easily accessible for a hearty snack! You can also use this piece for the holidays by laying fresh evergreens on top of the board with a candle holder nearly that will create an interesting colonial look sprinkled with primitive charm. Gingerbread cookies sprinkled about could be sensational by creating even more Christmas spirit in your kitchen or dining room! Enjoy!
Apple peeler measures 21 1/2” long (right to left), stands 6” @ the tallest point (back area) and is 4 ¾” deep (front to back). Bowl measures 6” across the top opening (right to left), measures 3” across the bottom and stands 2” tall. Wooden spoon measures 8” long, bowl is 1 ½” across (front to back) and measures 2 ½” long. Dried apples are approximately 2” by 2”. Sweet Annie spray measures 6” tall by 2” across the widest point at the top. Aged cheesecloth measures 9” tall by 6” and has been purposely cut unevenly.