This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend my first antique tool show. The Potomac Antique Tools and Industries Association, based in the Washington, D.C. area, held their Annual Spring Dealer and Tool Auction in Damascus, Maryland. Seeing an opportunity to get the Corvette out for a road trip and learn more about this antique tool affliction I have come down with, I headed northwest. Joshua had recommended arriving a little after 7am to check out the tailgate sale that accompanies this event.
What a toy chest I found! I quickly forgot about the camera hanging from my neck and my intention to take photographs. On tables, on benches, on the ground, in boxes, on tailgates, everywhere the appealing tones of rosewood, japanning, steel, rust, and nickel. Boxes of Stanley 45s, rows of Sargents and Stanleys begging for attention. Clusters of Siegleys and even a few Norris planes. Saws, rules, levels, chisels, gouges, smithy tools, even a few iron parts from Conestoga wagons left on the prairies of Pennsylvania. The list goes on. Thank goodness I was ill-prepared for the chilly morning lest I linger too long only to return home with an overloaded Vette straining under a pile of old iron and an depleted bank account.
Finally, I headed indoor to the main event and heated space. Not knowing what to expect when I walked through the door of the Damascus Volunteer Fire Department activities center, I was immediately greeted by a shelves of Stanley planes, with the vaunted Stanley No. 1 peeking out next to its big brothers. My first “in-person” visit with the diminutive model of miniaturization. To see the No. 1 against the scale of the palm of my hand really highlighted the small scale of this creation. This little gem could be yours for a mere $1100. Not today, thank you. Imagine, back at the turn of the century, iron hand plane prices were dominated by the cost of the material use to build them. The smaller the plane, the lower the price. In 1898, the original “online” retailer, Sears, Roebuck and Co. mail order catalog sold this Stanley No. 1 plane for $0.99. That’s right, less than a dollar. That’s $30.25 in 2019 dollars.
A large selection Tom Law’s expertly restored and sharpened antique hand saws were on display attended to by Sandra Law. It is humbling to think about owning a beautifully crafted vintage handsaw that was attended to by a legend during his lifetime. Being a Fulton Tool nut, I wondered…could there be a Fulton hand saw somewhere in this field of saws? Right in front was a list of all the saw brands on display with the saws organized alphabetically in custom cardboard boxes designed to hold the saws upright. In no time, I watched Sandra Law carefully wrap newspaper around the sharpened steel of my newly acquired Fulton hand saw. I will certainly think of Tom and his stewardship of this saw every time I put it to work on some 130 year old timbers I have for a restoration project.
After a few laps around all the display tables looking for the elusive Fulton No. 8 size jointer plane, sadly none to be found, I took one last look over the indoor and tailgate treasures and vowed to return next year better prepared to fuel my passion for antique tools.
“Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”
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