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Just how Common is Smithing equipment in your area?

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Say for instance you look at the trade papers, flea markets etc. How often do you run across smithing equipment? Is it rare for you or maybe common for you to find equipment?

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We find a lot of tongs, cross pien hammers and some anvils at flea markets and auctions. Not a lot of bottom swages and top tools, though. I have had my best luck finding forges just by asking around. I've found several that were setting in a barn and forgotten about until I asked. :D

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Not too much luck around here. There are a lot of farms and most have had horses at one time or another. But not much in the way of blacksmithing items. Doesn't keep me from lookin though.

Mark <><

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There are still a few flea markets where I routinely find tongs, hammers, anvils (always damaged) and pedal powered grinders. I have never seen swages, forges or other large equipment. I saw one cut off hardie a few months back, they wanted $35 for it, I passed.

One thing that helps me find new tools is wearing a Florida Artist Blacksmith Association (FABA) shirt while shopping the flea markets. On occasion, a dealer will stop me to ask if I can id a tool and before the conversation ends, I own some new metal. It doesn't seem to matter if my tool identification was successful, the shirt was an excuse to single me out. Another advantage is recognition, since I go regularly, the dealers will hold things until I pass by. I am betting that leaving a forged key chain attached to a "I buy XXX and XXX business card" would help cover you in tools and equipment. I am not going to try it as I have limited space and a wallet to match but someone help yourself to the idea and let us know how it works out.

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NOt much of anything around here. Granted I don't look too hard cuz I just don't have time to scrounge for stuff. And when I did look I found little. What there is out there is in antiquey stores. Mostly look in Ebay, make it myself, make do without or use modern day substitutes if possible. I hold to the thought that the Blacksmith made do with whatever he had. And if he has a Millermatic DVI Mig welder then he uses it. :) BUt if he doesn't have a power hammer :angry: then he makes do without. I bought my first and only anvil new from Kane and son. I like it very much but I don't like to talk about how much I paid for it. :unsure: I built my gas forge from scraps and pipe from hardware stores etc. Don't use it much. I built my gas forge from scrap and used Miller and a portaband to assemble.

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Very old tools and equipment simply dont exist here in the Deep South, Just to spite the shade of the d****d yankee that smashed it I am repairing a parker gunsmith vise, bashed to bits and rendered useless during " RE-CONSTRUCTION " . My English mousehole anvil was buried by A . A. Broussard in 1865 and dug up in 1876. Used by him and his heirs till the AABCO ironworks closed in 1971, I aquired this anvill when the shop was closing and it is one of my prized possesions. Had old A.A. not buried it it likely would have been taken or smashed. So many Southern anvils are poor relics with horns broken off. I am sure there will be many who will say "not so!!" But it is true.

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Its pretty much everwhere around here
But the country pretty much started here so its been going on for a good long while.
I seem to just fall over stuff all the time from very small to very large , sometimes at pretty decent prices too.
Plus I buy and sell on ebay and there is always Quadstate ( an absolute mecca for blacksmithing tools )
I have lots of anvils and post vises and some unique blacksmith tools that ive picked up along my travels.
The only time that I go looking for anything specific is when I go to Quadstate and there is a good chance that there will be several items to pick from
.

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Pennsylvania is/was a coal and iron-furnace state, so tools are not difficult to find. But it used to be easier and 10 times cheaper before EBay and collectors became interested.

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You just have to keep looking and traveling. Farm auctions in NJ used to have at least one anvil or other stuff. However, most of the old farms are gone, replace by housing and malls. There are still a few farms around, but not many auctions. I have acquired anvils and other stuff by every method: EBAY, friends, garage sales, flea markets, antique stores, and just plain asking around. I have done thousands of miles across the NE and East coast looking and picking up stuff. You have got to do the leg work. Sometimes you just luck out and make a big score. I figure I attend about 10 auctions to get to a auction where I come home loaded. You never know. Just got to have the means to move iron, and the means to pay for it. Sometimes you get a deal, other times it is costly. In the end, it usually averages out.

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I have seen a marked decrease in all sorts of old tools at flea markets and tractor shows over the last 13 years that I have been looking for blacksmithing stuff, the same way that I have seen fewer relics every year for the past 40 at gun shows. The heyday of all this stuff was over by the end of WW2, but it was saved, hoarded and/or amassed by my fathers generation, and is now being trashed, scrapped or sold by their kids or grandkids.

Totally off-topic

ONR, I don't blame the Yankees for busting anvils, if they ever actually did, but I do blame them for policies that caused a century of grinding poverty afterwards that crushed the spirit of a whole section of the country. The poverty and lack of industries results in a scarcity of all old tools, and the huge increase in the population after Air Conditioning made the south livable just spreads it even thinner.

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Non existent, as you know, since I live not too far from you.

I went on vacation in New England and it was tool heaven, the stuff was everywhere. Next time I go back I'll bring a truck and lots of extra cash.

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Yea man, your right down the road. Maybe 45 minutes away..Your right, pretty much non-existent..


Non existent, as you know, since I live not too far from you.

I went on vacation in New England and it was tool heaven, the stuff was everywhere. Next time I go back I'll bring a truck and lots of extra cash.

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Outside the SF Bay Area, and down here in S.NV I have run across some good items. 3 of the 6 anvils I have came from the Bay Area; school shop sell off, machine shop auction, and word of mouth. I pulled a lot of tongs, vises, and accessories out of automotive swap meets. The big one in Turlock every Jan has forging stuff mixed in with the car parts. Down here I found 3 off of Craigslist, along with a gas forge, 2 coal forges, and a pile of tongs, hardies, etc. I know of two anvils now that are just sitting, along with a post vise. I recently acquired a hand crank blower, tongs, and some coal for a friend through someone I met after work (Utah).

Using Craigslook I have seen lots of anvils for sale all over the country.

I may run into a lot of stuff because I am constantly on scrounging mode. I just picked up 3 ballscrew assemblies from work to sell, or use-don't know yet, but they were headed for the dumpster. They run $3,500 for the long one, and $3,000 for the shorter one new from the factory. Still a lot of life left for other applications not so critical. I am CONSTANTLY listening, and watching for items that myself, or others can use. The main thing is letting people know that you are looking for items. My Ruger hat scored me some goodies from garage sales that had not been set out, or it jarred their memories of a long forgotten stash. This stuff is out there, but it usually takes some work to find it. Every week I was at garage sales, auto swapmeets, auctions, and flea markets.

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Here in the mountains smithing equipment is rare to say the least. I can comfortably say this because i have searched my half of the state for more than a few years.Every flea market, every trade paper and swap shops.Heres the thing. There was no industry in the mountains other than coal and timber. Smithing equipment is heavy and cumbersome, hard to get thru the mountains and across rough roads. Up until the mid 20th century this part of Appalachia had very few "good" roads. Until the early 20th century many people still traveled creek beds..Not the best way to transport large heavy equipment. Most of the small smithys I have came across in my research had little more than a homemade forge, an anvil plus a few hand tools.
I think my part of the world is barren because of the lack of industry and the lack of transport routes. Im sure RobertC can vouch for the ruggedness of this country. Just a theory but I have had plenty of old timers tell my that the reason they didnt have "X" piece of equipment was because they couldent get it across the creek and up the hollar..

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I expect to see smithing equipment about once a year at the local fleamarket; usually abused and over priced. The population out here was pretty much zilch back in the height of smithing days.

Now I know all the mines must have had shops but it seems like all the portable stuff was scrapped. I keep hearing tell of folks finding smithing stuff up in the hills (I'm down in the valley; at only about 4600' elevation); but I have never managed to talk them into taking me or bringing back some of the equipment.

Remember that factories all had smithies as an adjunct to their tool and die shops! (I know of ones in a sugar refinery, glass manufacturer, shoot even a hospital had an orthopedic smith during WWII!)

Logging and coal mining both supported smiths.

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I live in Southern Minnesota 60 miles from where little giants were made
Used to buy a 25# LG for as little as $25 but that was 25 years ago.
Now see one every once in a while at auction, some farm auctions have a few tools or a portable forge
Have to travel to a blacksmith conference to get top swages although I have more than enough for my eastate aucton which will hopefully be years away.
Mostly here auctions prices are higher for damaged China tools that the hardware store sells them for new.

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In general I have found auctions a poor use of my time. For every auction I bought something reasonable; there has been several with over priced items, or you have to wait all day long only to have the auctioneer lump everything in one big expensive pile or he combines the blacksmithing equipment with the left handed toad thwacking stuff and you have to pay extra and get stuff you don't need or want.

Now every once in a while you do luck out---say the large screwpress for US$100 FOB; but usually it's the 147# PW with damaged face and the heel cracked at the hardy for US$2 a pound and the hardy tools that don't fit that anvil bought by the same guy for $35 a piece---back in 1990!

I've had better luck talking with random people at a fleamarket.

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There isn't much of out here that hasn't come out in recent years. There is some from the mining industry but that is usually really big stuff and of not much use to the home smith trying to make a few knives or fire tools. Like Thomas has said the population out here during the hay day of smithing was rather limited, it was just never that populous. Thirty years ago there was a fellow that would go back through the upper Midwest and come back with a big truck full of industrial antiques such as anvils, swage blocks, tongs, hammer, top & bottom tools, just everything and sell them off as primitives but after a couple of seasons of not making a lot of money off of them he quit doing it. I could never afford any of his things, they were all so expensive to buy for use as working tools. When I go visit kin folk in Indiana I would stop at every antique/junk store I could time permitting on the way and buy some of the worst looking crap to use as trading stock in the early days of the Arizona Artist Blacksmith Association. My that was a long time ago, Doug Loony and Jay Brahman-Kidwell started that up at Kirkland Junction

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Here in the Triangle area of NC blacksmithing equipment is pretty hard to come by. I've been watching the local deal papers, fleamarket and craigslist like a hawk for months, nothing. Strangely enough if you head 2 hours west of here there's typically some form of blacksmithing equipment listed on craigslist every other week.

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Next to non-existant here but every once in a great while you see something good. Most is brought up from the lower 48, heck, all of it is or was just some a century or more ago.

I thought the estate auction line sounded familiar Roger. Here's hoping it's a long time off.

Frosty the Lucky.

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Pretty much nothing around here for me. I have started looking in craigslist in the states that boarder Texas. Figure if I find something for a good deal I would spend the fuel to go and get it.

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