This past weekend we visited my parents for a nice weekend of labor day relaxation and conversation. It was good to be out in the boonies away from the hustle of noise of city life and we got to enjoy a cookout, good beer, great company, and played some great games. Every time we’re there, one of the highlights of the visit is to see what my dad is up to. He’s a metalworking artist who tends to be rather prolific, so we’re always eager to see what he’s made since our last visit. This time, however, the highlight of our trip was the old tools.
You see, my dad started collecting antique tools when he was in his late 50’s and being somewhat of an obsessive sort (where do I get it from?), he really got into it. In fact, it was restoring and making “user made” tools that got him started with the metalworking. He’s still into it and this month will be attending a national convention. So he’s currently busy preparing tools to take. That meant that we had a great opportunity to look over his tools and touch and inspect and enjoy them. Because you see, antique tools are a sensory and visual work of art. And when I saw that he had some jeweler’s tools I couldn’t help myself. “Show me tools that women like me would relate to,” I said. And he did. The minute I saw them, I knew I had to take pictures for all of you. Because these are just that cool. I just HAD to share with you all!
About Antique Tools
I tried to give the country of origin, manufacturer, and date of the tools pictured. But it’s not always possible to exactly date a tool. You see, designs stayed pretty much the same for many, many years. Sometimes you can find a patent year, but that’s mostly on the later tools. Sometimes you have to be content to know the latest date that something could have been manufactured because of dramatic changes in the manufacturing technology, the supply of materials, or of new inventions. Most of these tools pictured here were made prior to 1940 and we know that because they have Brazilian Rosewood handles. Tropical hardwoods like Rosewood were no longer used in tool handles after that date.
A word about ivory. Ivory is no longer legal to be imported into the United States and elephant ivory must be documented to be over 100 years old to be imported. However, these antiques are legally freely bought and sold within the U.S. You’d have a hard time selling them overseas, though!
One thing that strikes me as fascinating about old tools is how they were made with decorations and elegance that were not necessary for the function of the tool. I mean who really needs ivory inlays in a drill handle? But it does tell you how important and cherished these tools were to the people who made and used them. They were tools of a livlihood, meant to last a lifetime. And because of that, most tools out there are “used to death”. It’s really quite rare to find complete sets and undamaged, unworn tools. Luckily, there is a very active antique tool collectors’ trade and these gems are being collected and loved once again. Okay, on with the tools!