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I Forge Iron

My first anvil... How ugly is too ugly?

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Hi all! I have been looking for an anvil to help start my smithing journey for the past few months, and this one just turned up practically in my backyard. It weighs right around 200lbs, and the owner is asking 300 for it. It looks pretty beat, and I'm not sure what it's made out of, but I'm going to check it out tomorrow. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks in advance!

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First, get the weight right.  "Around 200lb" could mean 150 or 220, and the price per pound will give you a good idea of what kind of deal you're getting.  I once had a guy try to sell me a Fisher anvil that he said weighed 350#, but then he admitted that he hadn't weighted it and was only "estimating".  When weighed, it came in at 233# and all of a sudden the price he was asking wasn't such a good bargain.


As for the condition of that anvil, it's plenty serviceable as is.  The face plate is flat and the edges are good and square without a lot of chipping or rounding over.  The piece missing from the heel is rather irrelevant since you rarely use that area of the anvil for anything.  It's nice to have, but not awful that you don't. 


The piece missing from the front corner is a bit more problematic, but it can also come in handy as a swage.  You'll probably love having it there if you ever make spoons, ladles or leaves - anything that you might want to dish round.  Again, not the greatest thing in the world, but a sure sight less of a problem than most would believe.  Even with the two chunks missing, you have plenty of surface area to work with.


The lack of a pritchel hole tells us you're looking at a colonial anvil made prior to 1820 when the pritchel hole became rather standard.  The thick waist means you have a large sweet spot and most of the mass of the anvil is going to be right under the hammer.  It doesn't get better than that!


If the anvil does weigh 200lbs, and you can get it for $300, jump on it.  Less than $2/lb for an anvil in that condition is a good price, but don't let that stop you from trying to haggle down using the damage as a factor.  Take your bathroom scale with you, or buy one at the dollar store on the way.  You really need to know the weight if you want to calculate the price.


I would definitely buy the anvil, though.  Even if it's only 150#, it's a great anvil design in a great anvil weight range and you won't be sorry to have it.  

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You might take a minute and add yourt location so we know where you are at roughly. Location can often also play a part in whether an anvil is "good" or not. In some areas anvils are hard to locate, and what might be marginal in other areas may not be such a bad deal.


I often suggest guys think about the future as well. If you are in an area where anvils aren't super common, it might pay to grab something semi-decent so you have something to work on if the price is right. Later if you find a nicer one, you can always sell the original to someone else who's just starting out and recoup a decent portion of your original expenditure as long as you didn't pay stupid money for it. I'm constantly upgrading my tools as I locate better ones, either selling off or trading the older ones I don't have a need for any more.

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