Author Topic: Blacksmith tools.......................  (Read 2329 times)

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Offline se3388

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Blacksmith tools.......................
« on: August 02, 2014, 02:01:25 PM »
Can someone tell me about these items, my Daddy got these back in the late 40's or so from his Uncles Grand Father and that is all I know about them. The blower is from Lancaster Forge and Blower Co. in Buffalo Ny (looks a lot like a Champion 400 from Lancaster Pa.) I can't find any writing on the vice or anvil. The coal box was all rusted out and was lost when I was a kid. Thanks for any info on these items.










Steve.............
« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 02:05:12 PM by se3388 »

Offline john k

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Re: Blacksmith tools.......................
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2014, 04:46:26 PM »
You have a very fine forge blower, and stand!   A good brand name,  that most people would like to own.   I believe these were engineered to last indefinitely.    The vise, looks good to me, 90% of what I have seen have no name in evidence.  When there is, it is on the triangular plate that bolts to the bench.   The anvil will have some stampings on the side, about 3-4 inches down from the top, lightly wire brush the sides, then use some chalk to bring up the numbers and letters.  Usually the name is on the side opposite shown in the pic, numbers below the name is the weight in hundredweights, tens of pounds and single pounds, confusing? yes.   The coal box was the forge itself, they just didn't like being left outside.    Got plans to get some coal and smith a little bit?  You got a lot better start than most folk. 
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Offline Twilight Fenrir

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Re: Blacksmith tools.......................
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2014, 05:05:57 PM »
Well, I'm not an expert, but I can offer a somewhat informed opinion, as I've done a great deal of research into these tools while searching for my own for my blacksmith shop...

The forge blower sure looks like a Champion No. 400, but I've never seen one without '400' being on the front of the fan housing, where yours has 1906... But, I don't know terribly much about forge blowers, other than that the Champion No. 400 is widely considered to be the best hand crank forge blowers ever made. I have one myself, sitting 3 feet behind me torn completely apart for restoration :3 I've heard mixed prices for these... I've heard as high as $300, and as low as about $100. I paid $60 for mine, but it was seized. Hence, the disassembly. I'll have mine going as soon as I get to my local hardware store to pick up some lithium grease...

The anvil is an American pattern, as can be told from its skinny waist. It lacks the 'ledge' on the lowest portion of the anvil, meaning it is NOT a Peter Wright. It looks just like the Acme that my master smith has. These anvils were produced by a company I can't remember honestly, and sold under a bunch of different names. It appears to be a cast anvil, with a tool steel plate welded onto the top of it, judging by the visible line about 1/2-3/4" beneath the face. I don't see much in the way of scale... so it's a completely random guess at just over 100 lbs. Maybe 115-120. But, again, without scale, that's pure speculation.

Anvils in this size range can fetch about $2.00/lb at the top end of reasonable. Yours appears to be in pretty good shape, barring pictures of the other side hiding anything. The wearing on the corners of the face are actually about perfect for actual use. Most smiths like to have the 6-8" or so behind the horn worn/radiused. To the point, that when buying a brand new anvil, most would take an angle grinder to get this radius. While leaving the rest of the anvil nice and sharp. Which, is what it LOOKS like you've got there, minus a dent or two. It would be a good working anvil. But, it's probably not especially desirable for any collector value, without any makers marks, and being of a fairly typical pattern.

The post vise.... is a post vise. They were so ubiquitous, and of such similar design, that manufacturers didn't even bother to put their makers marks on them, with the exception of the middle-era Peter Wrights, which were the first to incorporate a single-piece lead screw box. Where as early era were brazed together out of 4+ parts.

Back in the day, post vises were sold like anvils, by the pound. The heavier work you were doing, the heavier vise you'd get. Nowadays, we typically measure them by the width of their jaws. But this is a bit imperfect, as all vises of a certain jaw width are NOT created equal. I have a 5" vise that looks like yours, but more massive. However, there were London style vises, where the moving jaw extended all the way down to just above the floor, making them SIGNIFICANTLY more massive. Again, lacking any sense of scale, and basing my guess solely on the relative size of the components, I would guess that that is a 4" wide jaw post vise. Among the smallest, and by FAR the most common. The majority of large post vises met their makers, literally, when the price of scrap iron went up. And the 150+ pound leg vises went off to be melted down.

There are generally 3 eras of post vise. I forget the exact dates they cover, but the most modern era ends in the early 1900's. So, basically all blacksmith vises you see are over 100 years old. They were just built that well. Yours would appear to be a late midle era, or early modern era. The earliest post vises had their mounting brackets tenoned THROUGH the back leg of the vise, and the spring. They were also typically quite ornate. The middle era saw the improvements in design that most post vises you will ever see have. With the mount wrapping AROUND the leg and spring instead of through it. They lost a lot of their ornamentation, but still retained some level of fanciness, and were still built almost entirely out of wrought iron. The late era accompanied the arrival of mild steel, and as such, many of the components that could more easily be made of steel were. At the end of their mass production, they were entirely steel.  All ornamentation fell out of them, and they were built to serve a purpose, nothing more.

Yours, like 99% of the post vises out there, is missing its foot cup. This doesn't hurt it's value, as next to none really have theirs anymore. But, if you had the funny looking flanged washer that accompanied it originally, it would certainly be a fun little complete tool. Not worth a whole lot more, but definitely bragging rights. As I said, it looks like yours falls into the late middle era, or the early late era. This is based on two things: The angles that are stamped into the corners between the hinge, and the screw-box. They exist on yours, but appear to be very slight. Your screw box also has a bit of ornamentation left in it, With the stepped taper, and the spherical finial. Also the visually pleasing lines on the back side of the vise jaws. (Also quite practical for certain bending projects... Mine is early middle period, and has a little sweep on the end, perfect for starting curls!) If the jaws line up straight, and the threads are in good condition, you could expect to see a little over $100 on the somewhat reasonable end. Again, assuming it is indeed only a 4" vise. If it is larger, the price goes up. 6" jawed vises can see $300+, and the bigger, and heavier, the more valuable. The era doesn't really seem to come into play with value. It's all about size, and condition.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 05:12:52 PM by Twilight Fenrir »

Steve

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Re: Blacksmith tools.......................
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2014, 10:08:03 AM »
Thank you Guys for this enlightening information. I like to work with metal but am nowhere near the talent seen on this site. I'll probably try to set this up and use it some. I looked at the stuff again and still can't find any names on any of it. The vice is indeed a four inch version, you mentioned the foot cup and I think I might remember it, there was a washer type thing that was about two to three inches wide and domed but flat on the bottom with a hole in it. This might be it but it is from a memory from 45 years ago so might not be accurate. Could you give a 'guesstimate' on the approximate year each item might be from?

Steve.............

Offline john k

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Re: Blacksmith tools.......................
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2014, 06:34:09 PM »
For a ball park figure, 1915 would not be far off.   Towns became electrified before WWI, and an average blacksmith shop would have gotten an electric blower, even tho this had been an expensive purchase.    Anvils were made clear into the 1960s, in the USA, have to find a name on that one.    The vise, as said, probably dates to the first quarter of the 20th century.    I have purchased post vises at auction for as little as $15,  and a near identical blower at a house auction  for $10, less than 5 years ago.  On the real low side I know.   Have also bid a 120lb. anvil up close to $250.00, it was nice.  So prices are all over, and it depends a lot where you are. 
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Offline se3388

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Re: Blacksmith tools.......................
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2014, 07:11:02 PM »
I won't be looking to sell these anytime soon. I need to get them setup to use first, I'll probably let my Son have them someday. Thanks for all the info. I'll keep looking for any kind of writing on them.

Steve............

Offline keykeeper

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Re: Blacksmith tools.......................
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2014, 08:33:07 PM »
I will have to disagree with Twilight on that post vises were mostly unmarked. I have one nearly identical to yours pictured. It is marked IRON CITY inside of a six point star. Peter Wright did mark theirs as well. Coincidently, both of those brands were known to have the chamfers on the long uprights just below the jaw portions of the vise.

Other makers marked them with a simple 40,50,60, etc. on the top of the jaws, as they were sold by weight, as mentioned above.

Without traveling back in time, no one will know all there is to know about these vises and their origins. John K is correct though, some makers marked the mounting plate with their information, most notably Columbian and Indian Chief brands.
-Aaron C.

My vintage tool Want list:
Wards Master Quality 1/2" drive sockets (Need size 5/8), long extension, & speeder handle.
-Vlchek WB* series double box wrenches.
-Hinsdale double-box end round shank wrenches.