Any time I work on a “lot” of tools I generally do it in phases. I have completed what I think of as the “discovery and research” phase where I look the tools ( and the container, box, etc.) over, catalogue and document what I find and begin to try and understand the general context. As part of that phase I may do some primary cleaning in order to help locate and determine any markings. The tools with patent dates run from the 1860’s through the 1890’s but a few of the tools are later add-ons (such as a Craftsman line level). While each tool has to be considered separately, the collective also often holds some interesting information about the past of the group.
The box is obviously designed as a wall case (not a portable carpenter’s tool chest) of relatively simple tongue and groove pine boards nailed together and painted. The pattern of the tongue and groove work seems to match the planes in the collection and the general work is utilitarian and is of a quality typical of carpentry as opposed to fine cabinet work. Even at that, care was made to carefully fit tools into specific storage places so that many of the tools present were part of the collection at the time the case was made. Much care in construction is evident from the details such as where the holes for the various bits were squared to match the tapered shanks of the brace bits (as opposed to simply boring round holes). The original lock mechanisms are gone and have been replaced with a hasp and padlock, The original lock mortises show careful work.
The overall impression of the group is more toward carpentry (firmer chisels, no bench chisels, hatchet, plumb bob) with some nods toward some joinery (rounds, tongue and groove planes, rabbet plane, miter box saw) , and a few more refined tools ( nice marking gauges and carving chisels).
Items that would normally be expected for bench work, such as mallets, various appliances etc. are not present and there is no place established in the case for them. The condition of the firmer chisels (chipped and broken edges and extremely dmaged handles) indicates hard use while the condition of some of the finer tools ( knife shapes of the mortising gauges and marking tools) indicate a more refined hand. It could very easily be that the condition of the chisels indicates the practices of later users.