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Star anvil, also known as American Star.  Made in Trenton, NJ from about 1855 to about 1870.  Made in a similar way to Fisher anvils, with a tool steel plate over a cast iron body.  Their distinguishing characteristic is an oval core hole in the base of the anvil.  This core was thought to facilitate cooling of the main mass of iron and to reduce stresses.

 

This anvil is a very rare Hornless Star.  About 200 lbs.  No, the horn is not broken off and it is not a sawmakers; it was made this way.

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Two more Star anvils.  The first is a 20 lb showing the side with the 5 point start.  It is in very good shape.  The second photo is a very rare stake made by Star.  It weighs about 15 lbs.  The top is about 4" x 6" and 4" thick.  I found it at a flea market and grabbed it.  Star anvils have the steel top over a cast base.  The stake is made the same way. 

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My Star anvil collection has 20 anvils from 20 to 275 lbs.  I have seen a 10 lb. Star.  They also made some sawmaker's anvils, but I do not have one.  The 275 lb Star is the biggest Star anvil I know of.  They are not that common.  Star anvils were only made for 15 years from about 1855 to 1870 in Trenton, NJ.  All of my Star anvils came from this area in NJ.  They never went far from home.

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Here is a shot of the 275 lb STAR anvil.  Not the best view, but it was what I have downloaded.  At the time this was made, it was bigger than what Fisher had available.  I think the fact that Star was producing anvils of this size prompted Fisher to start making anvils bigger than 200 lbs.  I will have to get a photo of the oval hole.  None available now.

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Most of my STAR anvils on the top shelf.  Weights range from 20 lb to 275 lb.  These were all made in Trenton, NJ between 1855 and 1870.  A few have broken feet.  Some of the iron in the bases is brittle.  All have the characteristic oval hole in the base.  This company was started and run by a former employee of Fisher.  Fisher did sue to get him to cease production, but lost.  Star anvil were just enough different due to the core to defeat Fisher.  They still were out of business by 1870.   And Fisher survived for another 109 years.

 

The middle shelf hold some of my bicks.  The lower shelf has some of my colonial anvils.  And a few other artifacts thrown in.

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Here is a shot of the 275 lb STAR anvil.  Not the best view, but it was what I have downloaded.  At the time this was made, it was bigger than what Fisher had available.  I think the fact that Star was producing anvils of this size prompted Fisher to start making anvils bigger than 200 lbs.  I will have to get a photo of the oval hole.  None available now.


Thanks for that. No rush on the picture of the oval hole. I was just curious.

All the best
Andy

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I finally found a STAR Sawmaker's anvil.  220 lbs.  Very rare.

 

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A view of the tempering cavity common to all STAR anvils.  However, instead of being oval, this one is rectangular.  About 1 1/4" x 4" x 8" deep.  There is still about 3" of iron and steel left to the top.

 

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This STAR anvil is not dated.  No STAR anvils had dates.  It was made between 1855 and 1870.

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How is the top plate attached to the cast base?

Presumably pre-heated and placed in the mould before the pour...was the contact/joint surface raised or dovetail keyed in any way or just left flat?

Any evidence that they de-laminate any more readily than the wrought iron blister steel construction?

Alan

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STAR anvils were made in a similar process to FISHER anvils.  The anvils were cast upside down.  The top plate was placed in the mold with a flux on the mating surface.  The steel was preheated by pouring under it and letting it heat up.  Then the iron was poured in at a very high temperature, causing the steel and cast iron to weld.  The gating system was very specific to what had to happen in the pour.  No dovetails, key ways, screws or anything other than the weld to hold it together.  The top plate was hardened after finishing.  If the plate delaminated then, it was remelted.  If it passed, it was sold. 

 

I do not think FISHER or STAR anvils had any delamination problems at a higher rate than forged anvils.  Most did fine and many lasted a long time and are still in use today.  Some did fail, but some failure is to be expected, given the pounding these anvil have taken over many many years.

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snip... The steel was preheated by pouring under it and letting it heat up…. snip

 

Thank you for the answer. I did not understand / could not picture the pre heating method…could you elaborate?

 

As a supplementary question, were/are any of the cast anvils made from Cast Steel or Grey Iron (S.G. Spheroidal Graphite Iron) as opposed to cast iron?

 

Alan

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At least for FISHER anvils, they were done in a 5 part flask.  The second part from the bottom had ports on opposite sides that connected to the preheat cavity.  Look at my ID photo at left, note the black part on top of the pattern.  That is the cavity formed for the preheat iron.  The iron was poured in and flowed through under the steel plate.  When enough had flowed through, the holes were dammed up with an oil based clay, the remaining iron stayed under the plate to continue heating.  Finally, after a few minutes, depending on the size of the anvil/plate, the iron was poured in from the top gating system for the anvil.  This pouring of the hot iron "welded" the steel plates to the body.

 

No STAR or FISHER anvil were poured of Steel.  I cannot answer the second part of the question; I do not know the difference between CI and SGI.

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Thank you again. That explains it nicely.

Having looked it up on Wikipedia this morning I see it is a bit of a can of worms. Grey and white seem to be versions of cast iron. The ductile iron, malleable iron or "Austempered Ductile Iron" (ADI) seem to be variations on what I knew as Spheroidal Graphite Iron.

I have a prejudice against cast iron and the casting process, prompted in part out of identification with long dead blacksmiths who were put out of business because of cheap and inferior decorative cast ironwork! :) So I have affected to develop a studied ignorance of the material and process. :)

The SGI that I have seen has limited bend ability but does tend to bruise rather than shatter if you whack it with a hammer. It also arc welds easily and is used for component railing finials I believe.

SGI would seem to be an ideal material for power hammer frames and anvils. Whilst writing this I just looked up Kohlswa anvils and they refer to those as special cast steel but then the rest of the description sounds very much like the description on Wikipedia for "Austempered Ductile Iron" (ADI)

Alan

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To add a important detail: to keep the steel plate for the face and the horn from floating or being pushed up from the preheat iron, cut nails were used as pins all around the plates, sticking into the clay.  They also kept the plates from shifting.  The hot iron just melted them into the anvil.  Any "pins" left sticking out after cooling were just ground off.

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I wonder if the pins had a secondary function and helped the weld like the iron filings in proprietary fire welding fluxes? At the least they would not have hurt it.

Do you have any knowledge as to the flux that Fisher or Star used or was that lost?

Alan

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The flux that FISHER used was basically Borax.  They had their own "secret" method to prepare it, but it was not a magic formula.  They heated the powder in a pan until it liquified, then cooled it.  The resulting crystals were then ground into a powder. 

 

The nails did not add to the iron mix in any chemical way.  They were used to keep the steel face and horn plates in place while the iron was poured.

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210 lb STAR anvil recently added to the Fisher & Norris Factory Musuem.

 

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STAR anvils of this size are rare, and especially in this condition.

 

It was probably sold as a 200 lb.er.  Weights were never exact in these early anvils.

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Newest addition to the Fisher & Norris Factory Museum:  241 lb STAR anvil.  I believe this is the biggest STAR anvil produced.  If anyone knows of a heavier one, please let me know.  This anvil is in remarkable condition, with an almost perfect top and no damage.  This anvil is about 150 years old.IMG_20150708_173207298.thumb.jpg.bd5fb60IMG_20150708_173216486.thumb.jpg.46b1ba1

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Nice score Josh! Is it coated in oil too? Sweet.

Frosty The Lucky.

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And the scale is pretty impressive too. A ton and a half wouldn't trouble it. Awesome.

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I wire wheeled and scrubbed the anvil.  It had a lot of "sitting around" grime.  Then a coating of thin penetrating oil to prevent rust.

I have started to photograph all new anvils hanging from the scale for my records.  So far the heaviest one on here was the #10 Fisher Chainmaker's that weighed in at just under 1000 lbs.

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Are you going to post pictures of the chainmaker's anvil?  I would like to see it, if you do.

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