Vintage Wooden Dumbell Set

Presented is a set of vintage wooden dumbbells. The dumbbells are fixed-weight and constructed of hand-turned solid wood. They have incised lines at center for grip and around the balls for ornamentation and to keep the dumbbells from rolling. A great decorative object for a coffee table, bookcase, or home gym, these dumbbells have a lovely patina. 

In their most basic form, dumbbells can be traced to the ancient Greeks of 5th Century BC.  Then called a “haltere,” the Greek version of a dumbbell was an oblong-shaped stone with a handle. Later, men in the Middle East used what they called a “nal” to strength train. This club-shaped piece of equipment was longer than the modern dumbbell, but shorter than a barbell. British colonists adopted the use of the “nal,” which they referred to as the “Indian Club.” In the 1700s, Joseph Addison crafted his own “Indian Club” by removing the clappers from a Church bell to silence it. The bell, now “dumb,” became what is known today as a dumbbell. Using dumbbells was a popular exercise in the 18th century, even among our founding fathers. Benjamin Franklin wrote about using dumbbells to maintain his physical fitness and longevity. He used to walk up and down the stairs in his house while holding weights in each hand for daily fitness.

By the 1860s, gymnasiums and early athletic clubs boasted racks of dumbbells ranging in weight from four to one hundred pounds. In March of 1861, Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote in The Atlantic that with a pair of dumbbells, “a man could exercise nearly every muscle in his body in half an hour.” He enthused, the dumbbell is “a whole athletic apparatus packed up in the smallest space; it is gymnastic pemmican.” Just four years later, the first plate-loaded dumbbell was patented on February 14, 1865.


Wooden, hand-turned fixed weight dumbbells. Set of two. Incised wood line designs, at center of handle and at the middle of each ball. Significant surface nicks, dents, and wear to wood and wood varnish varnish, from past use. 

Dimensions: 3" H x 10 5/8" W x 3" D each.