Tuesday, 17 September 2013

An unusual parting gift...

One of my clients is, sadly, moving away shortly, and the other week they presented me with a leaving gift:

Knowing my interest in scythes, they very kindly thought that it would be of more use to me than mouldering in their barn, unused even for Halloween costumes...

...crikey, what a thought, walking down the street with a lethally sharp blade hanging over your shoulder, and a mask on...

No - best not to think about it.

This old English scythe came as part of the accoutrements of the house when they moved in - it was in a dark corner of the barn - so they didn't know exactly how old it is. It's fairly contemporary, definitely C20th,  and they thought it might be post-war.

However, I took it along to my Scything course last weekend, and Clive the instructor told us that yes, it was an English scythe, yes, it was heavy and horrible to use, and it might not be as old as we thought - they were made right up to the end of the 70s, the very last one being made in 1982, which is staggering.  Of course, the timing coincides with the invention of the strimmer, in the 60s, which quickly gained popularity ("new toy") and put the scythe-makers of the 70s out of business.

The handle was most likely Willow, he said, and would have been steamed and bent into shape, so it was not a naturally occurring curved branch. The blade itself was badly bent at the tang (where it attaches to the handle) which is probably why the owners stopped using it, and presumably bought a strimmer instead, tucking this monster away into a dark corner of the barn where it lay, ignored, for decades.

I have no idea what I will do with it - Clive suggested the best place for these English scythes was hanging up in a pub, so I might try to find a pub which lacks one. Or possibly a museum of rural life?

If anyone has any suggestions... do let me know!Did you enjoy this article? 


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