Interpreting Documents: Michael Hagenbuch’s Inventory

Twibil Ax Blade Detail
Blade of a twibil (twybil) ax. The wooden handle is missing. Credit: Wikimedia/B Askholm

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2 Responses

  1. Avatar Jean McLane says:

    The “twibil ads” undoubtedly refers to the two-bladed framing adze used to chop the mortices through 6 to 8-inch thick beams prepared to receive tenons, the ancient joining technique for heavy oak framing. The joint is secured with square oak pegs, driven through round bored holes (the proverbial square peg in a round hole); this process shears off the square corners of the peg and provides a very tight and secure fit. A Westphalian legend tells that the devil once visited a construction site and, being curious, picked up a twibil. Preparing to chop with the tool, he swung it up and cut his forehead with the vertical blade. Realizing his mistake, he turned the axe around and promptly cut a horizontal slice across the vertical one. Having marked his forehead with the cross of Jesus, he threw down the axe and left the job site for good.
    I’ll guess the next item is “Skails”, meaning scales for weighing.
    A lively imagination is required to interpret the handwriting and spelling of men whose daily language is probably Deitsch!

  2. Avatar Jean McLane says:

    Forgot to offer my guess at the etymology of the twybil: twy or twi is Low German or Anglo-Saxon for Hochdeutsch “zwei”, meaning two, as in twilight, twin.

    The “bil” is likely Hochdeutsch “Beil”, meaning hatchet, as in billhook.

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