Fanny Loom History
Leclerc has been producing versions of the Fanny 4 shaft counterbalance loom from the early 1950s. I began as a modified version of the "Mira" or "M" type loom and was originally called the "F" type because the folding back beam. The F-type became the "Fanny" and later became the "Fanny II". It is one of Leclerc's most popular floor looms with thousands in use worldwide.
Prior to 1955 when Leclerc introduced their first jack floor loom and called it the "Nilus" after the owner "Nilus Leclerc" their looms were described by their function (ie. "Floor Loom", "Table Loom", "Double Loom", etc.) and were just given a letter. For that reason the new Leclerc loom design based on the "M" type loom but with a folding back beam was referred to as the "F" type.
The first mention we have of this new loom is from around 1951 (no mention of it in the 1949 and 1950 brochures and price lists) and talks about the advantages of the "Movable Folding Loom". In 1957 Leclerc expanded their new naming scheme to cover all their looms and began referring to the "M" type loom as the "Mira" and the "F" type as the "Fanny". In 2000 Leclerc introduced a version of the loom with an integral shed regulator and a number of other changes, calling it the "Fanny II".
This document describes some of the changes in the design over the year that may help owners determine the year of manufacture. Note that some looms will have been upgraded to the new features over the years so their presence on a loom my not indicate the actual age. Sometimes holes in the frame from removed parts can help identify what the loom was configured with when originally purchased.
Since we don't have a complete source of information on when the various changes were made, we have relied on our collection of Leclerc catalogs, price lists and other documentation as well as pictures Leclerc loom owners have sent us or we have found on the Internet over the years. We greatly appreciate receiving any pictures or documentation that help fill in the blanks or correct information we have posted. We can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also need Leclerc catalogs and/or price lists from the following years: 1936 and earlier, 1938-1939, 1941, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1953-1954, 1958, 1960-1961, 1963-1965, 1967, 1971, 1973, 1977, 1986, 1988, 1990-1992 and 1994-1997. If you have one of these, let us know as we would love to have it or just a copy for our collection!
Below are some of the identifying features that have changed the loom over the years. Note that clicking on the pictures will show a larger version which will often also have more information.
The Leclerc logo on looms has changed over the years to reflect the company's changing name and the name of the location it is based in. The logo on a Fanny or F-type is normally found on either side of the loom on the outside of the vertical castle. Most looms will say "Nilus Leclerc" but newer looms (from the late 1970's onward) will say "Leclerc" as the company name changed over the years. The first two logos do not apply to the Fanny or F-Type as they pre-date this model.
Note that while it is pretty common for the Serial Number Tag described below to be lost over time, it is very, very uncommon for the "Nilus Leclerc" company label to be missing. Often looms without this label are not actually Leclerc looms but home made copies of Leclerc designs. Many of these copies use Leclerc metal parts like the Brake, Warp Advance and Beam Ends as well as parts like Shaft Frames combined with the wooden frame parts the woodworker is able to make themselves.
and Estimated Age Range
|on very old loom|
|This logo was also shown on the cover of the 1945 catalog and predates the F-Type looms so would be found on early M-Type models.|
|This logo is shown on the 1947-1952 catalogs.
Older looms seem to have the gold version of the logo while newer seem to be yellow.
|Black & Red
|Reflects fact that in 1954 L'Islet Station name changed to L'Isletville
Found on 1957 Jano, 1960 Fanny, 1965 Nilus, 1966 Mira, 1967 Nilus, 1968 Artisats (with bench), 1969 Nilus and 1970 Fanny.
|Black & White
|Leclerc used a "Nilus Leclerc" log that also named the model for a few years. Some models included room to write the "Serial Number" but these tend to have faded over the years.
Found on 1971 Artisat, 1972 Fanny and a number of other looms from this timeframe. A late 1972 Nilus had the logo without the model.
|Black & White
|Reflects fact that sometime aroung 1970 L'Isletville name changed to "L'Islet. We have seen the logo with L'Isletville on 1970-1972 looms while later logos use L'Islet.
Found on 1973 Nilus (10-73), 1977 Nilus, 1976 Nilus, 1975 Meco, 1973/1974 Dorothys & 1978 Minerva
|Found on one Fanny Loom of unknown age but with new brake|
|1978 catalog says "Leclerc" instead of "Nilus Leclerc"
Found on a 1980 Dorothy and a 1979 Artisat
|Found on a 1981 Minerva, 1980 Nilus, 1980 Meco 1983 Nilus, 1984 Artisat 1985 Nilus, 1990 Nilart 1981 Artisat and 1981 Colonial I|
|Non-transparent sticker used on looms and accessories starting sometime before 1995.|
|Leclerc began burning the logo into the wood instead of using a sticker.|
The easiest way to identify the age of a loom would be by looking at its model sticker. Unfortunately though with Leclerc looms that is not always an option for a number of reasons.
While we believe the company always put some kind of information on the looms, other than the loom model, any other information was inconsistent over the years. Different formats were used and as far as we can tell records were not maintained indicating what the numbers and letters meant. Early models had a number stamped into the wood frame somewhere but there were often other numbers, probably identifying specific wooden parts that were common to other models which confused things.
Later on, Leclerc started putting stickers with some information on the looms but the stickers could come off over time. Some stickers were placed on removable parts of the loom could accidentally be switched with another Leclerc loom if they were taken apart and stored together. Our Sticker Location Guide can help by identifying where on the loom to look.
Below are some of the ways Leclerc Fanny looms were labeled:
and Estimated Age Range
|The older F-type looms usually had a number stamped into the wooden frame that gave some information.
This was usually located at one side of the beam that the treadle were attached to at the weavers feet.
The first two fields specify the loom model (ie. either "M" or "F" type) and the weaving width. We can only guess that the next two numbers indicated something like a manufacturing run and loom number but we have no way of knowing.
The stamps for four looms "F60-302-22", "F45-504-56", "F45-410-38" and "M36.311.13 A" were used on a 60" F-Type, 2 x 45" F-Types and a 36" "M" Type loom loom.
Sometimes people have mis-interpreted this number as a year of manufacture but we don't believe that dates can be determined from this mark. Leclerc started to produce the F-type loom in 1951 so it's hard to get a date that makes sense from numbers like: "F60-302-22" and "F45-410-38".
|Newer Fanny models from the 1960's often would have a red sticker attached to the horizontal Batten Sley of the beater on one side.
These would often become brittle and would fall off.
Also because they are on a part of the loom that is sometimes removed as is interchangeable with other Leclerc loom models they would sometimes get mixed up, especially if multiple looms were disassembled and stored together.
As on the stamped numbers, the first digits indicate the model and weaving width of the loom. The "F", "FC" and "FA" were the catalog identifiers for the loom that year.
However, unlike the stamped looms, we believe the last two digits represent the year and month the loom was manufactured.
This would then indicate that the 4 Fanny models (1 x 27 inch and 3 x 45 inch) were manufactured in 1960, 1963, 1968 and 1970.
We would love to receive pictures of looms that have these red stickers to help confirm when they were used.
|On some looms Leclerc used a modified logo sticker that combined the Nilus Leclerc logo, the loom model and the manufacturing date in one.|
|We have these stickers on some Nilus model looms and believe Leclerc only used these white stickers for a short time.|
|Leclerc changed to a Metallic sticker with the number stamped into it in the 1970's.
This sticker was attached on the inside of the loom side frame, either on the same piece that the double pawl attached to on the right or on the left side. Unfortunately the former was in the path of the warp advance lever and would often get worn off.
Like the red sticker, these identified the model as well as the year and month of manufacture but not the weaving width. We are not exactly sure what the "FN" and "FD" refer to but later versons from other models included more information like weaving width and number of shafts.
The stickers indicate the looms were Fanny models made in 1973, 1977, 1980.
We would love to receive pictures of looms that have these silver stickers to help confirm when they were used.
|The Sticker was changed to the new design with the company name "Leclerc Looms".
In this design, the first 4 digits are the model/part number and the last two are the month and year of manufacture. The sticker to the left is for a Nilus (PN 1025) model made in January of 2005.
We know of 5 distinct braking systems on the Fanny type looms over the years. Clicking on the pictures below will show larger pictures of the complete brake systems.
and Estimated Age
|1. Ratchet and
|Leclerc referred to this system as the "tension control (brake)" which is different than the friction brake used on later loom designs.
The actual brake was a ratchet mechanism on the right side of the warp beam and a tension band on the left was used to stop the beam from spinning when the ratchet was released.
The ratchet mechanism was connected to the wooden foot treadle on the right side of the loom under the cloth beam and the tension could be controlled by rotating the metal knob.
Another picture of the mechanism can be found here.
|This simple friction brake called and "Automatic Brake" by Leclerc used a spring to pull down on a wire brake circle to cause it's diameter to reduce so it made contact with the brake drum.
A brake cord connected to a wooden brake treadle at the right side of the loom under the cloth beam was used to pull the brake circle in the opposite direction expanding the brake circle diameter to reduce contact with the drum to allow the warp beam to turn.
To allow the cord to pull at the proper angle, a single pulley on the metal "hook" used to position the folding back beam, were used to route the cord.
|To reduce the amount of force required to press down on the brake treadle, a lever was introduced between the spring/brake circle and the brake cord.
This also eliminated the need for pulleys as the end of the lever could be connected directly to the brake treadle.
This system also limited the amount the brake circle is deformed, extending it's life.
|Normally on Leclerc brake systems, the brake is engaged by default.
Pushing down on the brake treadle causes the brake to release allowing the warp beam to turn.
This brake system appears to be an attempt by Leclerc to reverse this with a brake which is engaged when the brake treadle was depressed similar to the way it would operate in an automobile.
We believe the use of extra parts including 2 springs and a lack of ability to adjust the brake probably resulted in it only being used for a short period of time.
|The current brake system, like the Reverse Friction Brake, replaces the brake cord and uses a longer lever to make it easier to depress the treadle. A turnbuckle is used to allow the weaver to adjust the brake to minimize the amount of treadle movement is required to release it.|
Over the years Leclerc changed the way the upper roller attached to the sides of the looms. Counterbalance Loom Improvements provides more information on these changes and why they were made.
and Estimated Age
|1. Upper Roller
|The wooden upper roller has two screws in the end that extend into notches in the sides of the castle on each side.
To adjust the height of the shafts, the upper roller could be raised slightly by inserting wooden wedges in the notch below the screws but later an adjustable set of cords was used to do this.
We believe that the lower picture with the indented notches is from looms built later in this period.
|2. "Nylon Bearing"
with "L" Shaped
|To reduce the amount of force required to press down on the brake treadle and to make the shafts return more easily to the neutral position, Leclerc added "frictionless" nylon bearings to the upper roller mounts. As well as making treadling easier, this improvement helped when low warp tension was being used or when narrow fabric was being woven.
The design also made the mounting bracket height easily adjustable to allow the weaver to position the warp threads through the middle of the reed without adjusting the cord length or using shims like the old design.
|3. "C" Shaped
|The "L" shaped bracket was replaced with a "C" shaped bracket sometime in the last half of the 1970's.
We have a note dated "1980" from Leclerc that says "The top roller support is now double to give more solidity to the roller" but we also have seen a 1976 Fanny with this C-bracket so the change was probably earlier.
The new bracket placed the upper roller lower so a shorter set of upper roller cords is used.
|4. Fanny II
|The Fanny II included a Shed Regulator as standard.
The style of Shed Regulator pictured has been available since about 1986 as either an option or a later upgrade so it is hard to determine the age of the loom using it as a reference.
|At least 2 other Leclerc Shed Regulator designs were available for Fanny and F-type looms.
We believe the top design was made from 1959 to 1977 (with wooden mounting brackets until 1970) and the lower mechanism was manufactured by Leclerc from 1978 to 1985.
Like the Fanny II Shed Regulator, these may have been added to the loom long after it's original date of purchase.
A number of other changes in the loom design have occurred over the years that may help identify the looms age:
|Over the years Leclerc has changed the rubber/nylon foot pads that have been used under the loom feet.
The original leftmost large pad was on looms up to 1963 but by 1968 looms had the simpler and smaller middle black foot pads.
By 1979 Leclerc was using the right beige foot pad that is still in use today.
Note that some owners may have replaced all the foot pads on their looms over time with the newer ones.
|The folding back beam on the F-type looms originally had a very thick cross beam which was there in 1968, the same sized beam as the one used on the bottom of the loom that the treadles attach to.
Over time this beam disappeared as in the 1970 Fanny in the middle picture and then by 1972 a thinner brace beam was being used as shown to the right.
|Over the years, Leclerc has changed how the cloth and warp beams mount to the loom frame.
Initially, the beams on the F-Type fit through holes drilled in the frame which meant the frame had to be taken apart to remove the beam.
In 1955, the cloth beam holes were replaced with grooves cut in the top that the beam ends sat in and Leclerc advertised "cloth beams removable to help threading with ease". The beam ends were held in place with metal latches.
By 1968, the holes in the folding back beams for the warp beam were also replaced with the groove and latch system.
|Leclerc provided the same hanging beater option for the F-Type/Fanny from 1951 to 1969 that was designed originally for the M-Type. Rather than being a special version on the loom as in the M-Type , the F-Type version could be added to an existing loom by drilling holes for two bolts on either side to attach the wooden castle extensions.
Each extension had a metal bracket with a set of 11 notches that extended out horizontally. A set of special swords that hung from these notches held the battens and reed and allowed the weaver to position the beater at the optimal point for them.
This "Suspended Beater" as Leclerc called it was originally available as a standard option but by 1957 was a "can be supplied on request" product in their catalog before finally disappearing in the 1969 catalog.
Check out our Manual Section for downloadable assembly instructions for this and other Leclerc looms and weaving accessories. Information is also provided on upgrades and accessories. If you are not sure which Leclerc loom you own see our Leclerc Loom Guide to help identify the model.
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