- Tools & Workshop >
- In Search of Antique Tools
In Search of Antique Tools
- Photo: The Best Things
SOURCES AND TIPS
Determining the value of a tool is generally based on its condition, its rarity, its current demand, and its history (provenance). Check a current antique tool price guide, or what online dealers are asking for tools, to get some clue as to fair market value. The Fine Tool Journal publishes a useful grading system, as well. Once you’re ready, these sources can get you started:
Dealers. Expect to pay more for reputable antiques dealers and specialty tool dealers will give an accurate assessment to the tool’s condition and value. Expect to pay more for this expertise, but remember that you’re buying peace of mind, too.
Ebay. Antique tools appear daily, but many are sold by non-users who unknowingly describe them inaccurately, not even realizing that a tool has the wrong blade, is warped, or is missing a part.
Auctions. A few good dealers and collectors remain who only sell at auction. Both Live Free or Die Auctions and the Brown Auction Services in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania offer large antique tool auctions each spring and fall.
Estate and garage sales. You won’t find the tools like you used to. Still, it’s an option if you understand the inefficiencies and simply enjoy the hunt.
Tool collector clubs. “You can go to flea markets until the end of time and not find what you can find being connected to a tool club,” Lee says. The Mid-west Tool Collectors Association claims to be the world’s largest tool collecting organization with a national membership of about 3,500 and several area meetings to get you involved. The Early American Industries Association is a more academic group responsible for research on the history of tools, toolmakers, and tool usage. And then there are several regional groups, such as Potomac Area Tools and Industries Associaton or tool-specific groups like the Missouri Valley Wrench Club.
CARING FOR OLD TOOLS
Once you’ve made a purchase, protect it. “Nothing should be done that is not reversible,” Lee says. “For example, if it is dirty, clean it. But don’t refinish it.” Likewise, store implements properly. “If you keep tools in the same kind of atmosphere you’d be happy to live in—warm and dry—they’ll be fine,” Lee says. And if you never intend to use the tool, Lee has advice on that as well. “The majority of collectors have a dedicated room with shelves,” he says. “They’ll invite you over and you go in to pay homage to the tools all over the room. That’s your next step. It’s kind of like a shrine.”
- 10 Popular Driveway Options to Welcome You Home
- 12 Hobbit Houses to Make You Consider Moving Underground
- 12 Wow-Worthy Woods for Kitchen Countertops
- 15 Ways to Make a Small Bathroom Big
- 20 Clever Ideas for Repurposed Storage
- 10 New Ways to Store Kitchen Necessities
- 12 "Expert Picks" for Fail-Safe Colors
- 10 "Neat" Garage Storage Solutions
- 10 Reasons to Love Architectural Salvage
- 10 Design Inspirations for Mudrooms and Entryways
- Painted Cabinets: 10 Reasons to Transform Yours Now
- Kitchen Flooring: 8 Popular Choices
- 10 "Dream-Worthy" Swimming Pools
- Paint Guide: 10 Essentials for Successful House Painting
- Murphy Beds: 9 Hide-Away Sleepers
- 10 Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security
- 12 Ways to Put Your Home on an Energy Diet
- 13 Easy Ways to Repurpose Antique Armoires
- Bob Vila's Guide to Historic House Styles
- 10 Things to Do with... Cross-Cut Trees