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I Forge Iron

Close to the same day!

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Last year I fount a mint condition ACME branded Hay Budden 100# anvil that had been turned in for scrap. Lovely anvil that possibly had never seen a hammer, made around 1907 with a serial number of 130281. This is the thread with pics of it:

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This week I happened to find another ACME Hay Budden anvil that was in very nice shape, this one being 80#. As I was doing my clean up procedure, I could finally make out the serial number on the foot.


That is 86 anvils apart, in a production of 300,000 anvils that HB made. I was wondering if they worked 7 days a week in Brooklyn back then, I wouldn't doubt it. But Postman theorizes that it was a six day workweek estimating around 80 anvils a day on average. I'm at an 86 number difference..... Outside chance that these two anvils were made on the same day (maybe it was an easier 'small anvil' day?), or very possibly the next day. This is so cool to me.

Another cool tidbit- on the 100# ACME the "1" character is stamped upside down. Crazy thing I noticed, on the 80# anvil the "8" character appears to be upside down as well! The lower loop of the 8 is smaller than the upper loop which leads me to believe it was stamped upside down. Where else do you see the upper loop larger than the lower loop of the 8 character?? The zero character wouldn't ever look upside down. Could it possibly be that one guy was stamping correct left-to-right orientation, but upside down characters on anvils that day? I'll get some pics tomorrow.

In producing 300,000 anvils, there are 3,488 spans of 86. That means getting two anvils within that 86 number span is (at best) 1 in 3,488. 1 in 3,488 is a 0.029% odds.

That also assumes all 300,00 anvils are all still around! To find that for items that are over 100 years old, and to have survived two world wars, and the scrapping revolution, is absolutely amazing to me. Maybe anvil collectors have seen something like this before, but for little old me, this was fantastic.

Now I'm starting to wonder if I could ever possibly find serial numbers from makers closer together than this. :)

....and one more cool aspect.
From all my travels, I found these two ACME branded Hay Budden anvils within 10 miles of each other.... Could it be that the nearest Sears store got a large shipment of nearly sequential ACME anvils 107 years ago that got sold around the area that I found them, or is this lucky coincidence?

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Greetings Frog,


I wish my anvils could talk..  What a story they could tell..  You mentioned that your Acme anvils were found 10 miles from each other..   In that era I think Sears stores were not close to the farms and such..  Most forks of that time used the mail order catalog.. Might be interesting to research Sears and the location of the stores...  Thanx for your research always interesting...


Forge on and make beautiful things


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I should've snapped a pic before I cleaned it up. Caked in decades of dust and cobwebs....

Here's the weight stamp, and you can see what could be the upside down "8", just like the definite upside down "1" on the 100# anvil pictured in the thread linked to in the first post.
The lower loop of the 8 is smaller than the upper loop, I'd say that was possibly stamped upside down?

And here's the two serial numbers.
I find it interesting that they have they same tilt to the right on several of the numbers....
But now that I take a closer look at the serial numbers stampings, I also notice the "8" character in the serial number from the 100# anvil looks the same orientation (upside down?) as the weight stamp on the 80# anvil. The 8 character could easily be upside down and not noticed in the stamp holder due to it being almost vertically symetrical.

I wonder how Sears mail order worked back then.
When you ordered something 'mail order', were you sending in your order to the nearest Sears store, or to a national address?
I would guess large shipments would be made to the nearest Sears store, then distributed by individual shipment from there?
Nearest Sears store back then would've been Chicago or possibly Milwaukee.

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I'm curious what your process is for cleaning up an Anvil?

I'm considering purchasing one soon and can guess what I would do to clean it up, but want to make sure I don't do something that might cause harm.

Did you just use a wire brush and water? Do you rub it down with mineral oil afterwards to prevent rust?

Just curious...




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Is my everyday anvil classified as an Acme???

Unless yours is stamped ACME, the only way you might be able to get away with claiming that is if you can balance out on the tree limb with a rubber-banded and tensioned anvil....



two thumbs up,  I know, possible abuse of Mod edit priv's , but I had to

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After digging a bit more, turns out Sears did NOT have a retail store until 1925, which opened in Chicago.
So everything up to then was all mail order from Chicago, the home of Sears.

Some very cool reading on the history can be looked at here:



These ACME anvils were dated to around 1907. 

I found this part interesting, when Sears' business was increasing so fast in the early 1900's they kept out-growing their buildings:



Meanwhile, construction was started on a 40-acre, $5 million mail-order plant and office building on Chicago's West Side.

When opened in 1906, the mail-order plant, with more than 3 million square feet of floor space, was the largest business building in the world.


So I'm guessing these 1907 ACME anvils probably came through this new mail order building in Chicago.

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Frog, love the Wiley reference!   :lol:   When I first took up blacksmithing I was astonished at the people who said, "What's an anvil?"   Seriously..   In every single case I finally got the light to come on in their eyes by saying, "Remember Wiley Coyote?"     sad....

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Chicago + Dallas:  you forgot the southwest mail order hub in Dallas TX opening in 1912.  (I dug into the archives when researching the ASO issue recently)


I noticed that my Blacker powerhammer anvil had a serial number on it near the face that looked to be added by the Blacker company, I checked one other and it was very close to the one on mine, 21 off IIRC.  *Much* smaller pool though compared to HB's output!

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TP, I saw the Dallas reference opening in 1912, but I was concentrating on what was going on with Sears up to the 1907 timeframe when these two ACME anvils were manufactured, and wondering about retail stores in any remotely close area to where I found them.

There were no retail stores until 1925, so all mail order was through Chicago until, as you mentioned, the Dallas hub opened in 1912.

This is from a 1906 Sears catalog, showing the new buildings built in Chicago, and I would say the very same buildings these two ACME anvils passed through.


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Yup there were there!  I don't think they did just in time and drop shipping as the contracts with various anvil manufacturers seemed to indicate buying a load of them to their spec and shipping them from the Sears warehouse as they got ordered.


Speculation as I have not read the contracts; just references to them.

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More things I found interesting, some ads from Sears catalogs of the day.
These are from 1902, 1912, and (questionable) 1920. Prices went up over those years, just like nowadays.

I was wondering how the average farmer out in the country would pay for such an item through mail order.
The payment method section is from the 1912 catalog.





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Congress passing the laws to enable Rural Free Delivery was the equivalent of the Internet ordering today.  Local brick & mortar stores could not compete on price, so lost business to the big national mail order chains, and had to change the way that they did business: start extending credit and layaway plans to keep customers, home delivery, etc.

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JM, I was thinking the same types of thoughts when I found this paragraph from a historical Illinois site about Sears:

Around the turn of the century, Sears customers were mainly from rural areas. Since Sears did a large amount of business in rural areas, the company began calling the catalog the "farmer's friend." Country storekeepers were very opposed to the catalogs, because when Sears first published its catalog people were delighted that a company could actually deliver merchandise to people's homes. Country storekeepers lost sales as a result of Sears's policy. Because of these problems, storekeepers began taunting Sears and Roebuck with the nicknames of "Rears and Soreback" Rural newspapers refused to print Searsis ads, and children were even given ten cents or a movie admission pass for every catalog that they turned in. The catalogs were then sometimes publicly burned. In response to this problem, Sears began mailing orders without the name of the buyer on the package, and even reprimanded storekeepers in one of their catalogs: "As a rule, the merchant from whom you buy, adds little profit to the cost of goods as he can possibly afford to add. For example, a certain article in our catalog is quoted at $1.00, while your hardware merchant asks for $1.50 for that same article...."

In 1906 Sears opened an office in Dallas, Texas, that six years later blossomed into a mail-order business plant. This plant offered customers in the Southwest advantages, including lower freight rates, faster delivery, and reduced damage to merchandise. Sears wrote after he opened the office in Texas: "If with this trail we can get any success, the next place will get the kind of preparation that will insure success, and encourage us to cover the United States rapidly with 10 or more branches." In 1906 construction started on a forty-acre, five-million-dollar mail-order plant and office building on Chicago's west side. When it opened that same year, the mail-order plant, with more than three million square feet of floor space, was the largest building in the world. That same year, Sears wrote:

"We do comparatively very little business in cities, and we assume the cities are not our field (maybe they are) but I think it is our duty to prove they are not."

The people who lived in cities were not very good catalog shoppers, because they shopped in city stores close to them. That is why the people who lived in rural areas were good catalog shoppers, because the catalog brought the luxury of store shopping to their own homes.

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