Over the years clothes pegs have changed. The early ‘Dolly Pegs’ made from one piece of wood were replaced with two pieces of wood joined together with a spring. When these were first produced it was considered to be a wonderful invention by the housewife and laundry maid. The wood used was good quality beech that had been well-seasoned, was hard and firm and didn’t split or break easily. Sadly, it appears that most wooden clothes pegs today are made from soft wood with weak, soft, thin springs.
In the Eighteenth Century and for most of the Nineteenth Century washing would be thrown over bushes to dry but when the ‘Dolly Peg’ and variations of these became available then the washing line was used not only in preference but also with much enthusiasm.
Dolly Pegs should always be soaked in cold water over night and allowed to dry naturally in the sunlight to not only lighten them but to also strengthen them. It is wise to add a drop or two of bleach to take out the natural dye that lingers on the fresh wood so that washing will not be marked by the pegs. My Grandma and Mother reminded me quite often to remember to soak my pegs over night … I have never forgotten their advice.
I think out of all of the clothes pegs that I have had then those that were available in the 1960’s and 1970’s were the most reliable for holding washing firmly on the line in all weather conditions.