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The collectors market on Blacksmiths Hammers..


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Anyone noticed the crazy prices that Heller and Champion blacksmith hammers are bringing these days..I saw a 2lb Champion cross peen just like the one laying on my anvil right now sell for something like $85+ the other day on ebay :blink: Ive been seeing Jay Sharp hammers go for several hundred lately..

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Those are not collector's prices. Those are market prices.
Jay Sharp has been a respected tool maker as long as I can remember. He is in his late 80's now, and he is still forging. I've seen and talked with him lately at some of the farrier's events I've demonstrated at. My brother and I stopped by his shop last year to visit and get some hammer handles, and he was working on a large gate. He is quite an individual.

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There are always folks out there who think that a $100 hammer and a $1000 anvil and little experience will make them a better smith than a $5 fleamarket hammer and a $100 anvil and *years* of using them. Every hobby has those people who spend a lot of money on stuff to impress people seemingly unaware that it is what you *DO* with it that is the basis for impressing others.

Having a hammer that is appropriate for *you*---right weight, right handle length, right handle shape, right face dress is far more important than how much it cost.

OTOH---If you are buying a newly hand forged hammer you should expect to pay shop rate for the time involved and at $100 per hour a nicely tuned up hammer *will* cost you some bucks! (most I have seen are probably being sold *too* cheap!)

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Ill say this, I sorely wish I had a 3 lb Champion just like my 2 pounder..That champion is my favorite hammer, bar none.It feels like an extension of my arm.It even has the original handle..I suppose I could sell it and buy a 3 pound Hofi hammer :lol: Seriously though, I guess Im just so use to flea market prices I still get sticker shock when I see a $100 hammer. Even though I know its worth it.

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Now this is just MY opinion but before I`d spend upwards of $100 for an old hammer I would take that money and invest in a class with someone who would teach me how to properly make a hammer similar to what I was interested in.
I would go to the class prepared to ask questions and stay late trying to pick the instructor`s brain as to things like appropriate weight, hang,handle length to type of work,how to dress the faces for my type of work,in short getting to know how to properly make and fit a hammer to get what I truly need.
IMO any tool you buy that was not custom made to fit you and the way you work is a compromise.Manufacturers and folks who make these tools and never meet or talk to you can get real close but nothing beats making your own once you have been instructed in the proper skill set.
Once you have the skills in your pocket you can make any hammer you want.You can even remake that $100+ hammer if it breaks or disappears or you would like it in a different size.

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When I started heating and beating in 1963, Heller Brothers was still selling retail. I think that Champion was also. At that time, there was one Illinois farriers' organization and one in Southern California. There was no ABANA nor internet, if you can imagine. I started out with a Hellers rounding hammer, purchased new.

In 1963, there were tool collector clubs, but the members were mostly interested in "beautiful tools" such as wood planes with a little ivory on them or oddball wrenches. Blacksmith tools were considered fairly common and not all that pretty. Times change. Nowadays, there are collectors of blacksmith and farrier tools, especially vintage ones. eBay is a nice source for such tools, but the prices are often driven beyond reason for us working smiths. Nowadays, we have collectors who do not intend to use the tools. They are hip to such names as Heller Bros.; Champion; Channellock; Ridgid; Quikwerk; Iron City; Peter Wright (vises); and Stanley/Atha. They would like to have the stamp on the tool to be legible and they like the tool to be in reasonably good condition.

http://www.turleyforge.com Granddaddy of blacksmith tools

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I bought a Heller handled fuller at an estate sale. I'm not really into buying brand name tools, but it was $5, so how could I go wrong? I did not use it for a while, so I put it on Ebay starting at $9.99. It didn't sell :angry: . Anyway, one day I needed to use it and I liked it so much that I decided that I'd keep it. Would like to pick up a few more, too :) I figured that times are a little tight now and if it is a buyers market, it's better to go with the flow.

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  • 11 months later...

You know I am one of those production guys making nice rounding hammers for Farriers. I have learned the value of a good tool. I pride
myself every time I hand forge a hammer that it bears my mark. I think to myself, wow. I kid you not, I like making fine tools or at least the
best I can make them.

Whether you sell them wholesale or retail the money reflects the considerable amount of thought, time and skill that was put in by Blacksmiths
many of us doing this for a living. I say what was told to me in a story by my first Blacksmith teacher Dan Klug.

"The young apprentice was admiring a hammer that a Blacksmith was using. The Blacksmith unimpressed looked at the apprentice and said, " you like it?
your a Blacksmith, go make one."

We pride ourselves as Blacksmiths wether we make sculpture, Railings, Gates, knives or hammers. I sell my tools with pride. Made by me the best I can make them.
If you have a better hammer use it and enjoy. Or better yet you figure out through years of hammering what you like and make your own. We are after all the tool makers.post-601-0-13896700-1296508818_thumb.jpg

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I got no problem paying going rate on a fine hammer, if I am buying it new from the manufacturer. I do however object to paying the insane prices for old and used tools that the collectors are inflating. If I have something new, I know it is likely to be free of faults. No such guarantee with used tools. I'll pay a fair price for a tool without hesitation, but the collectors are killing us, especially the ones who are taking good, servicable tools out of the loop and just stockpiling them. I know of one "gentleman" in the area who has in excess of 100 anvils, all good makers and in excellent shape who will not sell any of them for love nor money. When I first encountered him, it was at an auction, and he outbid me on a nice 250-ish Budden. I spoke with him about it a little later and came to find out "Oh, I've got lots of anvils." I asked him if he was a smith or dealer or something, and he says "Oh no, I just like having them in my shed to look at now and then." While, I feel, it is his anvil, he can do what he wants with it, but at the same time I find what he is doing to be somewhat reprehensible from that same "removing tools from the market" sense. Quality anvils are becoming scarce these days, and I have no doubt that the collectors like him are a significant factor in that trend.

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I do not think top quality tools make you better but I do think they make you more efficient and productive. For example an anvil with 90% rebound is going to make better use of your hammer blow than an anvil with 60% rebound or a cheap wrench may round a nut where the high quality one takes it off. As an added bonus a good quality tool can be easier on your body and as I get older that is becoming much more important.

I have no problem paying for a quality tool but I prefer to scrounge. I also like to use old tools when I can find them for a "user" price. The sense of history is something I think is cool and with really old tools the little details make for a beautiful object IMO.

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You know I am one of those production guys making nice rounding hammers for Farriers. I have learned the value of a good tool. I pride
myself every time I hand forge a hammer that it bears my mark. I think to myself, wow. I kid you not, I like making fine tools or at least the
best I can make them.

Whether you sell them wholesale or retail the money reflects the considerable amount of thought, time and skill that was put in by Blacksmiths
many of us doing this for a living. I say what was told to me in a story by my first Blacksmith teacher Dan Klug.

"The young apprentice was admiring a hammer that a Blacksmith was using. The Blacksmith unimpressed looked at the apprentice and said, " you like it?
your a Blacksmith, go make one."

We pride ourselves as Blacksmiths wether we make sculpture, Railings, Gates, knives or hammers. I sell my tools with pride. Made by me the best I can make them.
If you have a better hammer use it and enjoy. Or better yet you figure out through years of hammering what you like and make your own. We are after all the tool makers.post-601-0-13896700-1296508818_thumb.jpg

i like that ! in fact i did just that! a few years ago (or was it last year) there was a thread on hammer makeing that got me interested and ive made a half a dozen ... theyre not that hard tho there is a big mass (to me) to move just takes time ... actual forgeing time is down to 50-60 minutes so not too bad ... as far as prices go its amazeing sometimes cause you can see real high prices on some stuff and real cheap on same thing..ive seen whitney punches go for 20 bucks on ebay .. also seen um go for 200 bucks ... its wierd ...
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  • 7 years later...

I am a newbee! I made my own anvil out of rail track and 3/4 thick plate top, I bought 5 hammers at local antique stores and 4 bucks was the most I paid! Nothing fancy true temper, Vaughn etc. I picked up a chepo 3 pound cross peen at menards and a two pound as well for 20 bucks!  So far I haven't had a hammer head fly off and take me out!

 I will not pay 100 bucks for a old hammer! I am learning , and never say never but wow!  Guy on Craigslist had a hot cut, a 3 pound champion cross peen and two tongs with no price! I asked him how much 220.00 ! LOL I am sorry maybe my work will never come into its own with cheap tools and the rapid tongs I am finishing up, but holy molle!  

I guess time will tell and will see how it goes!  This is supposed to be fun for me Not Poverty!

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  • 1 year later...

I wasn't going to respond to this thread, but...

I have a small "collection" of blacksmith made hand hammers (a simple Cergol 4# rounding hammer, a straight and crosspeen McReady, a 2# Hoops rounding hammer, and a Kartmazov Czech and dogshead).  They are all "users".  I also make my own hammers, that are used to hit hot steel.  I enjoy using custom hammers in the same way a chef likes to use a custom hand-forged chef's knife rather than a $10 K-mart special.  I appreciate them not only for their quality, but also for their aesthetics.  I would love to own hammers by Latane, Roush, and Bailey as well, and someday I might (or I will make ones for myself inspired by their designs, as alluded to in Dan Klug's story, above).  I also have, and use, engineer's hammers that were dredged out of corners of the basement and refaced, flea market Swedish and German crosspeen specials, and even HF hammers for striking top tools, none of which cost more than $10, and most considerably less.  They all have a place in my arsenal.

I certainly don't need all these hammers to effectively forge.  I could probably do most of my forging with a simple 2.5# German Crosspeen.  I like the custom ones, can afford them (sometimes), and appreciate the effort that goes into making them (since I have forged close to a dozen of my own).  I also enjoy making my own hammers.  I support other hammer makers as I would like to be supported myself, for my craft.  As a craftsman my focus has primarily been on making functional objects, and I clearly remember the discussions with potential customers who couldn't understand why I didn't sell a complete set of hand blown glass tumblers for the same price as Walmart.

I understand the urge to get a good deal and the need to economize as well.  90% of the equipment in my shop was purchased used, at very attractive prices; I get my mild steel stock from a liquidator, and have dumpster-dived for gas regulators and burner assemblies.  However I do get tired hearing comments implying how idiotic anyone is to spend more than $15 for a hand hammer.

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