A Scandinavian mangle board with stamped geometric and floral polychrome decoration. With the initials F P and H D and the year 1829 with hearts. Probably Danish.
Made of oak with a few small cracks to the bottom, I doubt if this love token was ever used, but was rather hung on a wall as decoration.
Size: 25" x 6" (widest) x 1" 63 x 15 x 2.5cm
The mangle board, used before the iron or laundry bat, are thought to have been spread along the coastal regions of Northern Europe by the Vikings. The mangle board was a single piece of carved wood, usually oak, beech or pine, and was used together with a type of rolling pin, to squeeze water from and smooth fabric.
In the early 1700’s decorated mangle boards became widespread and adopted a particular style, shape and design specific to their region of production, and whilst it still had its function, it became a courtship gift offered by the man to his bride-to-be prior to the wedding day. The beauty and quality of the mangle board were a symbol of the future husband’s means. In some regions, legend has it that the mangle board was used to make a wedding proposal official.
The suitor hung the board on the door of the house where the woman he wished to marry lived; if the board remained on the door, his proposal was rejected. The rejected suitor could not then offer that board to another woman. This may explain why some mangle boards do not have initials, or dates of the year of the marriage, and why the spaces provided for this purpose have remained blank.
The horse symbolized strength and virility in pre-Christian Scandinavia, and horses were a common motif for the handle.
Around 1860, the number of mangle boards decreased considerably and their style became rather decadent, a sign that they had lost their symbolic meaning and therefore, their importance.
With thanks to www.mangleboard.com for their very interesting and informative pages