From what I understand, this came from an old New England mill, and I'd guess would have been mounted on the wall, holding large spools of thread. And indeed, at the bases of most of the wooden dowels some threads remain, mostly wool from what I can tell. I just think it's a great object, and could be put to all sorts of creative and pragmatic uses. The board itself shows old white paint on front and back, while the dowels are unpainted. There are four holes--one at the center of each side--for mounting to the wall.
12" x 12" x 5 1/4" deep and in good, super sturdy used condition with a little chipping to the at one corner, as pictured. I have not cleaned it up a bit, but with some effort I'd think one could get all the old thread off if one wanted.