The dealer/owner says is that the box was bought at auction forty years ago,
and that the guy who bought it (and recently sold it to the dealer) clearly said
that all the tools had been parted up into different lots; but the buyer-at-
auction vacuumed up as many of them as he could, missing little except the saws.
So this isn't the archetypal chest closed in 1850 and left undisturbed for 170
years; its all the tools in one auction in the 1970s. I would be surprised if
all the tools in the auction were from the box, and I don't even know that any
were. Most likely some came from the box's working life, some were added by
later generations, and some were put in the auction from other sources.
I find Bill's point about the lack of divided up compartments for sets of
chisiels and so on to be compelling. Was this perhaps a chest for something
other than tools? One ot the treasures of my binding teacher is a what she
always calls "the ship's chest" but which looks to me exactly like a mid-19th
century tool chest---except for the lack of tool-specific compartments. On the
other hand: did all 19th century woodworkers pimp their tool chests like hot
rods? We all know the legend of the use of the tool chest as the resume-
equivalent; but would that always be needed? Would the heir to a joiner doing
good business, sure to inherit, feel the need to show off fine veneering skills
to his old man? If he was just an ordinary-careless kind of guy, would he get
anal about every little piece being in exactly is motionless position? A box
this size would have lived in one place in the 19th century, except in really
extreme need, so the tools wouldn't have rolled around and jostled that much.
Some craftsmen are fussy about their tools, and the Porch is sort of self-
selected for a high degree of fussiness. But we know that some craftsmen are not
anal about their tools. The interesting thing is that meticulous care of tools
is completely unconnected with skill and accomplishment in the trade. In Ken
Burns' series on Jazz, he had an interview with Artie Shaw, and Shaw talked
about the first time he met Benny Goodman, at the great Carnegie Hall concert
which was arguably the high point of both their careers. Goodman wanted to talk
about clarinets, on and on about them: kinds, and makers, and how Shaw cut his
reeds, and things that I (not a musician) can only imagine. Fifty years later
Shaw still sounded impatient, almost angry and certainly grumpy, about this.
"It's only an instrument," he said.
So maybe the new-found toolbox was owned by an "only-a-tool" carpenter. One of
the ones who didn't mark all his tools. We know some woodworkers didn't because
there are lots of tools around without owners' marks on them.
On Saturday, February 20, 2021, 6:46:33 AM PST, Bill Webber
Harrumph! Me too, skeptical, I mean. Two things jump at me
immediately. No mention of user marks. ALL craftsman marked their tools
in those days. Second, all the edge tools are just thrown into drawers,
no attempt at dividers or protection of any kind.
For those that might want a refresher on a real populated old tool box,
here's an old link.
This box was relatively well protected, still family members got into it
absconding with tools and depositing inappropriate junk.
Woodworkers visit me at http://bi
On 2/20/2021 6:57 AM, Ed Minch wrote:
>> On Feb 19, 2021, at 8:59 PM, Thomas Conroy via OldTools
>> Dunno if anyone has linked to this tool box yet:
>> >> https://www.youtube.
>> Tom ConroyBerkeley
> It sure is beautiful but color me skeptical. Why would a house carpenter
carry around a half dozen axe handles and the pattern to make them to each of
his jobs? This is true of several other tools in there. The brand-new slate
nail cutter had a label "since 1853”, But every DR Barton chisel has “1832” on
it even though they were made into the 1920’s. So the timing is questionable
and the tool content is questionable, but, it is a very nice collection of
> Ed Minch
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