Laundry Counter/Laundry Tally Board

November 1, 2018

 

One of the most impressive, though small, pieces in our collection is our 17th century laundry counter, also known as a laundry tally. By turning the brass wheels, the counter was used to record how many pieces of each type of laundry were sent out to be cleaned or starched. When the laundry was returned, it was counted and the numbers were compared to make sure all had been returned.

 

 

Our tally has 15 brass wheels that rotate to reveal a number 1-12. Each wheel is labeled above, handwritten as such:

 

Row 1: [ruffes]/bandes/cuffes/handerkercer/capps

Row 2: shirtes/halfshirtes/bootehose/topps/sockes

Row 3: sheetes/pillowberes/tabelclothes/napkins/towels

 

This piece measures 5 ¼” wide by 4 7/16” long and is made of wood, paper, brass and isinglass, a thin, transparent sheet of mica. A similar tally board was found at Haddon Hall behind wall paneling and there is also one in the collection of the Science Museum in London.

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