Station: [6] Threading Machines

Would you dare to teeter along the loose boards between the beams under the roof and hang up the tobacco leaves? The people who worked in the curing barn certainly needed a good head for heights to be able to move around on the duck boards high in the air. With no electric lighting, it used to be pitch-dark in the barns. Accidents often happened and were sometimes fatal.

The workers threaded the leaves on to cords, producing what’s called bandaliers. The stem of each individual leaf had to be pierced with a needle. It was a tedious and time-consuming job.

To simplify the processing of the freshly harvested tobacco leaves, machines were invented to take on the job of piercing the leaves. The machine in the centre of the room opted for a twisting technique without a needle. Two threads were twisted together, incorporating the ends of the leaves into a cord. The down-side was that the leaves lost volume as they dried, and some came loose from the bandalier.

So the machines needed to pierce the leaves after all. However, with the early machines, the leaves had to be inserted individually. With later models, like the circular machine in the corner of the room, that was no longer the case. They operated like sewing machines, with an upper and a lower thread.

Before you make your way across the annexe with the ticket office and enter the factory building, we’ll be going outside and finding out how the entire complex is laid out.

All depictions: © Oberrheinisches Tabakmuseum Mahlberg