You can still have lovely antiques in your home when you’re downsizing or switching to a more minimalist decor. You may not have room for large chests of drawers or massive paintings, but you can own rustic, ornate or nature-inspired antique pieces in smaller sizes to provide stunning accents in your compact and simple spaces.
One sought-after antique item is the mangling or mangle board. With a total length of around two feet, width of four to six inches, and wonderful folk art carvings, the mangle board is easy to display and adds a timeless cheer wherever you place it. Here’s what you should know:
Mangle boards have been around for 500 years
Mangle bards first appeared in the 1500’s, when Skandinavian and Dutch artisans carved these household items of wood to give as engagement gifts to their brides-to-be. Each mangle board is a one of a kind work of function and form and often includes the date it was made and the initials or name of the woman for whom it was intended.
Some say that the suitor–after spending many painstaking hours creating his mangle board–left his labor of love at the woman’s doorstep as his formal marriage proposal. If she brought it into her home, she was willing to marry the mangle-board maker. If she left his gift on the steps, his work was in vain.
Mangle boards are part of a two-piece set
You may think a mangle board smashes a chicken carcass or breaks up something else in the kitchen, but the use of mangle in this case means to press fabric like table linens or curtains. A mangle board often has a handle at one end of the carved side of the board, while the other side of the board is always smooth. It’s paired with a long cylinder that resembles a rolling pin.
As mangle board use spread, housewives all over Europe learned how to tightly roll their damp linen on the rolling pin, set in on a flat surface, and then use the mangle board perpendicular to the rolling pin to roll and press down hard on the fabric at the same time. Sometimes the linens would be lightly dampened with sweet-smelling herbs to infuse a nice scent as the wrinkles were pressed away.
Identifying mangle boards
Some mangling board sets look like worn, smooth logs with no ornamentation at all, while others have elaborate carvings of cherubs and floral motifs. If you’re interested in collecting these unique pieces of household history, study pictures and details in books and online so you can more easily identify them when they appear at your local antique mall. Be aware that many boards have lost their rolling-pin mates and will be offered as single items only.
Ask your local antiques dealer to keep a lookout for mangle boards as they scout out new merchandise. You or they may be more likely to find these antiques in areas where there are large numbers of people of Dutch or Northern European descent. However, mangle boards were used in many places all over the world, so keep your eyes open for those from outside of Europe, too.
The flexibility of the mangle board makes it a great decor piece. You can display it on the wall, set it on an entry table or use it as a bookshelf accent. A collection of several boards hung together over a sofa gives a great rustic touch without overwhelming the room. Mangle boards are also easy to pack if you must change residences frequently. For more information, contact a business such as Midtown Mercantile Merchants.