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Mudruck

Dating Old Tools

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Now that I have the vintage tools bug, I'm wondering if there is a way to find out a rough date the tools were made. I have an HF Osborne round knife that would be 1905 or earlier and a Rose knife that would be WWI or before. I would like to narrow down the dates, if that is possible. Anyone know how to narrow it down even more?

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Smaller lettering on the maker mark for the Rose would be earlier. The later ones have larger lettering. I have been told that the steel ferrules were early also. HF Osborne seemed to have been pretty consistent with their marks so not much help there.

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Thanks for the info Bruce. Even though I may not be able to narrow it down all that much, it is still pretty cool working with leather tools that are 100+ years old and still doing what they were made to do way back when. Kind of makes ya wonder what projects the things were being used on around the turn of the century and today they are working on a belt for a firefighter.

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Can you imagine . . . they learned to use those tools without the aid of the world wide web! And, the tools they used didn't run on batteries. Yikes!

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Yes they did Lippy. It was a trade and they were making a living. They were trained by other workers as they worked their up the food chain or generationally through a family business. Not many people in 1890 came home from a day at the mine and thought "Maybe I'll take up belt making as a hobby". What impresses me the most is how some of the big things were powered. I am enamored with a pedal powered heavy stitcher. Yeah, pre airconditioning and a guy sits pedaling away in some sweaty shop in Mississippi sewing harness for cane mules.

One of my favorite buys was an old harness set. There was about 200 tools in it -Gomph, HF Osborne, and old CS Osborne. This guy had full sets of large round creasers, layer creasersd, single line and double line creasers plus fine edgers, round bottom edgers, Concord edgers, round and English point punches, and loop end creasers. I could tell a few things about him. He never threw anything away and if numerology means anything, He was a "3" man. about half the tools were wornout or broken #3 single lines, double lines, layers, and all manner of edgers. There wasn't another duplicate in the chest that wasn't a #3. That man liked his 3's. I use the Rose knife from that set and have thought about stamping a #3 into it in his honor.

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One of my favorite buys was an old harness set. There was about 200 tools in it -Gomph, HF Osborne, and old CS Osborne. This guy had full sets of large round creasers, layer creasersd, single line and double line creasers plus fine edgers, round bottom edgers, Concord edgers, round and English point punches, and loop end creasers. I could tell a few things about him. He never threw anything away and if numerology means anything, He was a "3" man. about half the tools were wornout or broken #3 single lines, double lines, layers, and all manner of edgers. There wasn't another duplicate in the chest that wasn't a #3. That man liked his 3's. I use the Rose knife from that set and have thought about stamping a #3 into it in his honor.

More of how our society has moved into the throwaway society. Tools like these were meant to last a long time and the owners knew that even after they broke or wore out, there could still possibly be a use for them in some other way. My Grandfather was great at this, you would go through his tools and there would be a screwdriver that the tip was worn out and had been converted into and awl or something else useful. A broken file was just the right size for touching up sparkplug tips. a broken sledgehammer head becamce a mini anvil. One thing that always amazed me is that he had this large wooden box with a mix of all of the nails and bottles of nuts and bolts he had pulled from things that had worn out and would just reuse them in something else down the road. I once asked him why he would go through the trouble of carefully pulling the nails out of an old bookcase when he could just go down and buy new nails for a couple bucks. His answer was 'Why would I go waste money buying new nails when I have perfectly good nails right here?'

I think it is pretty cool to look at how the antique tools have held, or even increased, in value. Looking at the old catalogs, you see tools that originally sold for what we consider very little money and are worth a lot more now. I wonder if the makers even would have had any idea that over 100 years later that the tool that they made that day would be one that was still in use and still held value and that people wanted a lot of times over the modern made version.

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what comes to mind about these old tools is: i wonder how many of the items it has made are still around. i also think about how far (in distance) many of these have gone after being sold. i bought a #10 overstitch wheel from portland maine. the seller said it was turn of the century from a local leather craftsman. now it's in durham, nc. prolly never left the county all of it's life and now it's 800 miles from where it was used.

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Hi, I would recommend getting this book, as there are various illustrations of old catalogues with detaiils of old tools and obviously the date of the catalogue. It's available from a well known Online bookshop ( :oops: ), well at least the UK version of same. Dictionary of Leather-Working Tools, c. 1700-1950, and the Tools of Allied Trades by RA SALAMAN

BW Claire

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Thanks Claire! I will have to check it out!

I know what you mean ramrod, I have purchased tools from all over the US and you get the ones that were part of an old saddle shop or something like that and you pretty much know that tool had been in the same place for a long, long time and now it is on your bench still working, but somewhere completely different.

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