Posted by Angela on Monday, 10 March 2003, at 10:47 a.m.:
In Reply to: union loom # 36 posted by Dawn Martins on Saturday, 1 February 2003, at 4:41 a.m.:
According to "Rag Rug Handbook" by Janet Meany and Paula Pfaff, c. 1992, Dos Tejedoras Fiber Arts Publications [dos tejedoras is Spanish for "Two Weavers"], "The Union Loom Works was founded by the Elsaser family. Ben who died in 1984 at the age of 89 was the loom builder along with his father John." Paraphrasing the text, John's father had been a handweaver, and loved weaving. In 1897, John was making and selling small furniture. Union Loom Works came into being when John and his son Ben, incorporated in 1918. Although John didn't weave much, he cared about the looms weaving was done on. There were 3 basic designs, a hobbiest loom called the Union Home Loom, The Union Special Loom (a 36" weaving width loom, adn thos most popular), and the Union Custom with a weaving width of 45 inches. From the begining all Union Looms were designed with rug making in mid. The family disolved the corporation in 1930, a result of the Great Depression. Ben continued the manufacture of the looms as a private business until 1969. Over the years, the price of the 36" ranged from $29.50 to $110.00. Over 40,000 looms were sold. If I read the article correctly, the factory was located in Boonsville, NY.
The "Rag Rug" book is a good guide to rug weaving. It shows/tells you how to warp and weave rugs, what materials you need, and how to prepare them, as well as containing history on the most common rug looms.
You probably have the 36 inch loom, a great size for most work. Congratulations! You'll have to buy a bench from a different manufacturer, or have one made, but I'd recommend that you do some weaving seated at different heights before you make your purchase so you can be sure you have the right height for you and your loom. Too high or too low makes treadling (pushing the pedals) too hard, as well as make the arm work difficult. Harrisville Looms (I believe they're in New Hampshire) makes 2 different adjustable loom benches, but there may be many others. Some people might use a piano bench, a stool, and I've read of one weaver who uses a sofa-side lamp table and loves it.
What your loom is worth now - well, you'll have to poke around for that unless someone knows. As with any other item, price is a function of demand and condition. With 40,000 made, it is probably not rare. My guess would be in the low hundreds of dollars as long as it is in good working condition. eBay.com and other auction sites could be checked to see whether other Union 36" looms have been sold recently, and at what cost. There are also weaving equipment sales/swaps sites you can check.
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