Wooden clothes pegs also known as a dolly pegs or a clothespin. A peg is used to secure washing being dried outside to a rope or line. Originally these were made from wood from the willow tree. The peg would have a small head and be split up the middle to allow for it to fit over thick garments and blankets. Wire was sometimes used around the top of the peg near the head to stop the wood from splitting further.

Although pegs were discovered in ancient burial sites the first patented peg wasn’t until 1809 by Jérémie Victor Opdebec. Over the years Dolly Pegs became an important source of income for the travelling community with them being sold from door to door. On occasions dolly pegs were exchanged directly with shops for required provisions.

These days there is a wide choice of different pegs available. These traditional dolly pegs are still sold, along with wooden lever pegs with a wire spring and colourful plastic pegs.

Not only have pegs been used in the process of drying clothes outside but due to their resemblance to a person have been made into “Peg Dolls”. Arms were added, faces painted on and the peg clothed in bright and colourful outfits.

More information:

Date 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Material(s) Wood
Item number MBPO59

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • Have you ever used Dolly Pegs?
  • Can you remember ever buying handmade Dolly pegs at your front door?
  • Do you still use wooden pegs or do you prefer plastic pegs?

User Stories

As a child holidaying in Wales my pocket money would be spent on buying peg dolls from this one particular shop. I still have that collection of about 25 peg dolls, stored away in a large old Quality Street tin in our loft. Each doll is dressed in a different outfit e.g. Welsh lady, maid, horse rider, butcher, school teacher. I had great fun collecting and playing with these as a child – Memory Box Volunteer

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