A bounty of old hand tools that will Wow! you
The text message from my auction buddy Janet wasn’t very encouraging to me:
“You going to Briggs tomorrow?” she asked. “They have 12 vintage cookie jars and a bunch of old/rustic tools for sale. Could be a blog post.”
I’d written about cookie jars before so that didn’t spark my interest. Neither did the old tools. I envisioned a handful of iron tools that someone had left in a garage or barn to grow rust and spawn spider webs. It’s not that I don’t like hand tools; I bought one at a house auction a few years ago and still don’t know what it does exactly. I just loved the look of the thing.
When I got to the auction house, I didn’t head straight for those old tools. I figured that mess could wait as I wandered among tables in the back room where small items had been placed in cardboard-box flats on tables and inside glass cases.
When I finally made my way to the front room where furniture is sold, I found loads of vintage and antique tools and other such items neatly laid out on several tables. They were, in fact, amazing – nice and clean with barely a hint of rust. Then I knew why Janet had directed me to seek them out.
They were so clean that I figured they were not original to the person who had consigned the auction house to sell them. These had belonged to a dealer in old tools, because some of them had identifying labels and a few price tags strung on them.
I had no idea what most of them were, but several auction-goers apparently did. A number of the tools bore small green stickers indicating that buyers had left absentee bids.
One of the more interesting items was a short piece of thick chain that, according to the label, was a “heavy hand wrought chain used as a brake on a Conestoga wagon.” I was familiar with this type of wagon because I had written a blog post a few weeks ago about a farm wagon for sale at another auction house, and my research had led me to Conestoga wagons. They were the fabric-covered ones I’d seen in TV westerns.
How authentic was this chain? Who knows.
Other items with labels were an unidentified tool from the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI; a wheelwright’s traveler used to measure the diameter of wagon wheels; a hay tester used to pull out hay from inside a bail for inspection; a sugar devil fruit auger for loosening sugar or fruit in a barrel; oversized calipers; an unidentified hand wrought tool made of rough rusted metal with a $25 price tag, and a box of porcelain “plumbing escutcheons 1920-1930.”
I wasn’t totally ignorant about everything on the tables. I recognized candle-making molds, sad irons, corn-muffin bakers, wooden molds (for what, I don’t know, but I’d written about wooden industrial molds before), fireplace tools, hand drills, surveying tools and oversized cooking spoons.
Here’s a sampling of the tools. Don’t you just love them.