Every so often whilst bimbling around online, researching or just browsing for something fruit tree flavoured or orchard-related, I stumble across a marvellously eclectic website; a true labour of love, fascination, even obsession. As one such example, I give you: The Virtual Apple Parer Museum.
Established by Mike Viney in 2007, as the homepage says it’s a website that is “dedicated to the exhibition and educational study of antique apple parers, which have both historic and artistic value”. It’s certainly educational – I had no idea that these devices existed until I stumbled across the site – and, if you enjoy the industrial aesthetic of vintage machinery, then you’d have to agree with Mike that they definitely have artistic qualities.
An apple parer is a hand-cranked machine for paring (peeling) apples. Developed and used from the mid nineteenth century by American farmers and orchardists to speed the process of peeling and chopping apples for winter storage or, presumably, processing into apple sauce, apple jam or apple butter. Mike Viney notes that “over 100 apple parer patents were granted from 1850 to 1890”, so at one point this sort of thing could well have been a staple part of every apple-growing farm’s equipment roster.
The site includes a gallery of the machines, along with explanations of their workings and a general history of their use and development, even videos of the machines in use: check out the Jersey Lathe, which peels, cores and spiralizes, all in one hand-crank action:
The Virtual Apple Parer Museum is a must-see for the historical orchard enthusiasts out there, most definitely. Do take a look.