Yesterday the Digital Public Library of America launched. It is a great collection of freely accessible images and texts from all over the country. Hopefully more collections (including ours) will be added soon. Of course, I had to do some searches right away. One of my default searches is “spinning” so I tried that and found a picture of a type of wheel I hadn’t seen before.
There are two pictures of a Basque woman seated at a wheel, which she is turning by hand. There is little information about the pictures, which come from University of Nevada, Reno, by way of the Mountain West Digital Library. There is very little information about these pictures, so I don’t know when or where they were taken.
The pictures are the same, but flipped. I wonder which is the correct orientation – the black & white or the color one? I am guessing the color photo where she is cranking with her left hand and holding the wool with her right. However, I could be quite wrong since I think when woolen wheels are typically operated with the right hand (as was the spindle), so that one could continue to draft the fibers with the left hand. I have now changed my mind. I think the color one has been flipped, in part because the UNR collection gives this the title “Basque Slide Show: Sheep raising is important. The wool is collected each spring. A woman spinning wool” which makes me think the color one comes from an online exhibit where someone flipped the image to look better. Although the black and white picture is cropped (and of course it would be easy to convert a color picture to b/w with an image editor), which makes me flip my decision. Hmmmm.