MotoMike

family heirloom Arm and Hammer

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Hello Everyone:

by way of introduction I am Mike and live in Northern Illinois.  I feel a little sheepish coming to you hat in had for information, but you seem to be the best place to look.

I mentioned to my cousin that I am thinking about trying my hand at forging.  He told me that he had his great grandfathers anvil and that if I promised to keep it in the family, it was mine. 

I have known the anvil my whole life as it was at my grandfathers when I was growing up.  Family legend says my cousin's great grandfather was a blacksmith in Fulton Illinois in 1929.  this anvil is said to have been with him at that time.

  After getting the anvil I wire brushed it off and discovered the words on the side looking at it with the horn to the right.   "wrought Iron" in a rocker on the bottom with an image of an arm with the shirt sleeve rolled up, holding a hammer above that.  there is a top rocker as well but it is illegible.  the words and immage are stamped in.  I've seen from looking at your site that it is likely an Arm and Hammer.  accross the front foot, face under the horn is ever so faintly the letter z (i think) on the left face of the foot.  on the right side of the foot face is the number 2661.  I've tried to photgraph these impressions with negative results.  I've wire brushed them, cleaned them and then powdered them with talc and need to hold a flashlight off to the side to just make them out.  Maybe with a better camera I can get them.   The anvil is a little over 31 inches long, the base is 10 inches wide, it is 13 inches tall and almost 5 inches accross the face.  It is quite heavy, I'm guessing in the 250 pound range. 

I have just learned of testing rebound and have not yet acquired a ball bearing to do the test.  I do know that the hammer bounces off it quite lively and it does ring.  that is to say no dull clunk.  I feel like the luckiest guy on earth. 

Kind regards,

Mike

anvil.jpg

Edited by MotoMike

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Nice anvil and about the best anvil mount I have ever seen.

Welcome. You have a great start.

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Made in Columbus Ohio and a low serial number too.  Anvils in America can help date it; but I'm across an international border from my copy.

 

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Nice anvil and about the best anvil mount I have ever seen.

Welcome. You have a great start.

​+1 on that. That is excellent, would be fun to build a shop around it ;)

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What you have there is a good quality anvil that looks to be in nice condition. Having the family history and the memory of your grandfather with it makes it priceless. Thanks for sharing your story with us. If I can make a couple suggestions, first off I would get a nice coat or two of linseed oil on her to protect from the weather. Second, if that stump is her permanent home (very cool by the way), protect her from the weather and also from the low lifes who would see her as scrap value to support their habits.

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Guys thanks very much.  I am not sure it is the final spot. probably not as it is not really convenient to my garage where my future forge will likely reside.    when I was a kid my grandpa had it on a big piece of log about the height of my stump turned on end.  I recall that he would routinely take used crankase oil and keep oiled down.  I like the idea of the linseed oil.  My cousin had it in a shed that was not really weather tight and the anvil had been there for the last 30 years.  I was surprised that the rust was pretty much surface rust and came off with a wire brush.  Then in my ignorance, like my grandpa, I wiped it down with motor oil.  I then spayed it with graphite lube just to give it a dull black finish.  I like the idea of keeping it coated with linseed and will see if I still have some. 

Probably not evident is that I have threaded rod which is in the stump about 6 inches held there by epoxy.  I then nutted down some 1/8 inch steel straps and peened over the ends to prevent the nuts from being easily removed.  I know that is just keeping people honest and that someone set on taking it could still prevail. 

I am anxious to see if the serial numbers support the family legend of it being used by my cousin's Great Grandfather in 1929.  He said that knowing his family, it was acquired second hand. 

 

Anvil 3.jpg

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Welcome aboard Mike, glad to have you. A REAL stump for an anvil stand, classic. Not terribly practical, tripping over the roots and all but it's still too perfect. Most of the guys call a round or block of trunk wood a stump. It's just sweet for this old wise acre to see a beautiful old lady of a family anvil actually on a STUMP. The joker in me is well and truly charmed.

You WILL however regret the graphite lube sprayed on her, it WILL get on everything and isn't so easy to wash out. There are a lot of perfectly good finishes to protect her from rust, a good polymerizing oil is popular because it's good, as are various waxes I like spray on LPS-3 or warm her up to cup of coffee warm and wiper her down with Johnson's paste or a carnuba wax like Trewax or Bowling Ally wax. And no, it's not heresy to paint your anvil though uncommon amongst end users many if not most manufacturers painted theirs before shipping, often to order.

She looks to be in good shape, plenty of generations of blacksmiths in her still. Do you know what kind of smithing your Great Grandfather did? There are a lot of different kinds but many smiths tended to specialize but there were always the "village" smiths who did to metal whatever was asked.

Do you have any more of your Great Grandfather's tools? Pictures, stories, etc.? I think he'd be pleased to see this old lady put back to work. Thank you for sharing this bit of family history with us, it's a treasure we can all appreciate and celebrate with you.

Now build a fire and put a proper shine on her face.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

Edited by Frosty

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Russel thanks for that date.  I went back out and tried again with more powder, the sun at my back and a magnifying glass.  Almost invisible I believe I've found another number after the last so now am convinced that it is either 26616 or 26618.  I have also convinced myself that there is no Z before the serial. 

Sorry to mix up the grandfathers.  My cousin and I share maternal grandfather. The great grandfather that owned and used the anvil was his paternal GreatGrampa not related to me by blood.  .  Sorry for the confusion.  my uncle Marve, my cousins dad, when he acquired the anvil lacked the place to put it and let his father- in-law my maternal grandfather use it. There it remained until our common maternal grandfather passed away.  At that time 1988 I think, Uncle Marve reclaimed it and put it in a shed until I took custody of it.  I'm lousy at explaining those familial relationships.   I really never knew about the original owner but  I think I can get more info on him though given a little time.   My cousin thinks there are hammers and tongs and hardy tools somewhere but we could not find them when we got the anvil.  He did give me a hammer, but I don't think it is contemporary to the anvil.  

Frosty, thanks much for that advice.  To say I'm clueless would be an insult to clueless people, but now that my interest is peaked, I'm a quick study.  Once it gets good and hot out, I might scrub it off with some hot soapy water and a stiff brush and hit it with a pressure washer and put a more acceptable protective coat on it.  Yeah, I know the stump is perhaps not ideal, though the height seems good.  I just couldn't resist putting it on there to gaze at even if it does not stay there. 

It seems to be in pretty good shape to me.  the table and horn bear lots of dings, but the face is pretty good.  I saw the trace of silver paint which was a fond memory as my grandad had a penchant for painting things silver.  

Funny how you can take things for granted and have really no interest in them for your whole life (59 years young) but then when you do whole new avenues of interest arise.  I appreciate all the help and warm welcome.

 

Mike

 

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You might be able to get away with oiling or waxing over the graphite if it's dry graphite. I mixed soot in my first batch of finish ala Alex Bealer's recipe in "The Art Of Blacksmithing". That's what I coated my Soderfors with when I got her. Baby needs a new coat though. If I want to warm her up too hot to lay my hand on I'll use the Trewax. Carnuba is really durable and she deserves the nicest coat I can give her.

Just don't sweat it, what you put on them only really counts if its HOT and you're hitting it with hammers. That's how you put a proper shine on an anvil's face, hot steel and a hammer will do the deed. Of course if your Great Grandfather liked silver paint he might really like chrome. :rolleyes:

Don't sweat the stump either, put her to work and work out the fiddly bits as you go. I switched from wood blocks to steel stands some years ago and will never go back. That's me though and you can load up on other opinions and reasons right here on IFI in the anvil stand section.

While it's nice to have old tools it's pretty secondary for working tools. Heck, you might want to put your great Grandfather's hammers in a case or hang them on the wall and use modern hammers, etc. I'm not suggesting that as "correct" I'm just saying tools need to be right for you the user and some are too precious to wear farther. I have one of my Father's metal spinning rollers and even if I set up a spinning lathe I doubt I'll use this one. Copy it to be sure I'm not a total idjit, just not use it.

I could never get a handle on which cousins were firstus or secondists or just shirt tails. I have a handle on my Grand parents and call it good. Let me know if you get it figured out though we could be related, I'll console you.:blink:

Ethan: I'm not seeing the "bend" in the horn. Where?

Frosty The Lucky.

Edited by Frosty

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great looking anvil and a wonderful family story to go with it. those are the best kind of tools to own!  All my smithing tools  are form my grandfather and a few from my great grandfather.  I just got an arm and hammer and it looks just like yours.

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The 26000 range serial number would be 1916-1917 ballpark.  Great anvil!   I love my A&H anvils,  congrats on keeping it in the family.

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Thanks and thanks for that info that makes its use in 1929 possible.  Add to that another uncle told who is into genealogy told me  me that the 1920 census had grandpa Brandt as a blacksmith in 1920 working for his father who was also a blacksmith.   Interesting stuff. 

Do I gather that the process of making these anvils was to forge weld with steam hammer hot chunks of iron together until you had a big enough chunk to start turning into an anvil?  Once mostly anvil shaped it was finished with sledge hammers by a crew and ultimately a crucible steel plate forge welded on the face?   I watched a YouTube video of a group of guys forging an 80 pounder and was struck with the brutal work required to handle and manipulate it but to also do the finish shaping.  Doing that with a 250 or 500 pounder just seems beyond difficult. 

 

Mike

 

 

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hi frosty,I was just comparing it to my A&H I have in the shop. the horn is flat almost all the way... I have seen many wrought anvils with slightly bend horn down, from general use. but it could have been the way it was forged. if I remember right, the late peter wrights tried to correct this by bending the end of the horn up slightly.

any ways, you have an anvil in terrific shape, and the slight bend in the horn is barely notice able. could only wish to have an anvil with no badly cracked corners.^_^ 

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Thanks all

Thomas

You are correct.  big hammer marks evident under the tail and even a bit under the horn. 

Ethan.  I've gone out and looked at it and don't perceive a downward bend.  I'll lay a rule on the face hanging over the horn and see if my eyeball is telling me the truth.  To me it seems beautifully proportioned and sort of a riddle.  How could such a big hunk of iron, so obviously heavy, look  like it could fly?  Sculpture really.   I don't know what I'd have had to pay for it if I'd been been looking to buy, but to get her for free makes me happy as pie. 

 

 

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For anyone interested there is quite a bit of info from fellow members on the arm and hammers in the "anvil identification" thread a couple below this one.

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regarding Grandpa Brandt.  It is not clear why, but he got out of the blacksmith business and tried his hand at farming.  Not really making it there, he got employed by an insulation company blowing this new fangled insulation into houses.   Apparently he acquired some lung affliction owed to no safety precautions at the time and suffered an early demise.  Another uncle, now 77 recalls Grandpa Brandt was a good natured fellow.  He recalls at one time the kids in the neighborhood attended a one room school house.  During the day a big snow storm hit and the kids did not look forward to the 3 mile walk home in a foot of snow.  As school was to get out, Grandpa Brand showed up in a horse drawn bobsled that he had filled with loose hay.  5 or 6 kids piled in and he took them home.  seems information on him is pretty thin.

 

Mike

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Just take a chainsaw and square up the stump some.  It will give you more working room around the anvil.

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