Twisted Wire in the Woods

Well, I’ve already established that I see wire everywhere (see this blog post), but I surprised even myself when I managed to find twisted wire in the woods.  OK, it’s not twisted electrical wire, but I had to investigate it anyway.

Note that it runs along an old rock wall.  You can tell by the height of the wire how tall the wall was originally.  There were sheep kept in this area, when it was pasture, before reverting to woods, and the height of the wall does seem appropriate for walling in sheep.

I had imagined that this wire was a precursor to barbed wire, used before they had invented the barbs.  But it seems it was used for “thin-skinned” animals, such as sheep and horses, so that animals would not be hurt by barbs.  There are also versions of it with serrated edges and some that have barbs attached to it.  It was patented by Jacob & Warren M. Brinkerhoff of Auburn, New York, and made by The Washburn & Moen Company in Worcester, MA.

Washburn and Moen

In my search to investigate this wire, I found that there exists a Barbed Wire Museum, right here in Massachusetts (because Worcester, MA, was a big wire-manufacturing area, although I think this is a virtual museum only), the Devil’s Rope Museum in Texas, and barbed-wire sections in several other museums around the country.  Who knew that there are more than a few people who collect barbed wire, sometimes donating their collections to said museums?

This wire seems to be called by several names: horse wire, ribbon wire, horse pen wire, horse ribbon wire, Brinkerhoff barbless ribbon, and a few more.

A drawing of Brinkerhoff fencing materials including barbed and non-barbed versions of the ribbon wire.

And, of course, clever people have made lamps and pendants from barbed wire.  The perfect use for our dark brown cotton twisted pair wire.


Anyway, I thought this wire was kind of beautiful, but I am known to be a fan of twisted wire.

twisted fence wire




A Transcendental Road Trip 

Cloth-covered wire in Wayside: Home of Authors in Concord, MA

What do cloth-covered wire manufacturers see when they are sightseeing?  Let me tell you….

On a whim, Jim and I went to Concord, Massachusetts, this weekend, about ninety miles from our home in Northampton. While Concord is best known for being, along with Lexington, MA, the location of “the shot heard around the world“, the beginning of the fighting in the American Revolutionary War, it was also home to several of America’s shining literary lights of the nineteenth century, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, who coined that famous phrase, as well as being the founder of the Transcendentalist Movement.   Just west of Boston, the road between Boston and Concord is the location of Paul Revere’s famous ride.

Jim and I visited the Minute Man National Park, a large national park covering much of the road along which that first battle of the Revolution took place.  Also part of the park is a house called Wayside: Home of Authors.  This is a house where several famous American authors lived, the Alcotts, including Louisa May, author of Little Women and its sequels, Nathaniel Hawthorne, author, most famously, of The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, and Margaret Sydney (real name Harriett Lothrop), author of the children’s book series, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. Continue reading A Transcendental Road Trip 


Brimfield haul waiting for cleaning and rewiring

Last week we dusted off our trusty Radio Flyer cargo wagon, and set out for the great Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, Massachusetts.

Jim with wagon at Brimfield
We’d dropped the first wagon load at the car. Back for a second round.

For one week three times a year  — in May, July, and September —  this rural hamlet in central Massachusetts becomes overrun with thousands of antique dealers, specializing in everything from from 18th century primitives to Mid-Century Modern, with about every variety and sub-specialty you can imagine. So there are vendors who might just sell paper ephemera, or old maps, or framed original artwork, or clocks, or walking sticks and jewelry. There are dealers who sell imported antiques from Europe and, increasingly, plenty of dealers selling mass-produced, vintage knock-offs. Continue reading Brimfield