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Anvil ID - colonial pattern

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Greetings!  I've been lurking here for a while trying to learn all I can while a local fellow was teaching me the basics at his shop.  He's headed south for the winter, and I've been bitten by the "bug" enough I'm setting up a basic shop.  Since I'm just starting out I didn't want to pay $$ for a "lifetime" anvil, but wanted a good serviceable anvil.  Anvils seem tougher and tougher to find for "reasonable" prices in the northeast US from what other folks have told me (vs a few years ago), but a trip to VT and I came back with a bit of extra weight in the truck!  It had the best rebound of the bunch I looked at (75% or so with the ball bearing test), and felt the best with a hammer as well (there was another, likely newer anvil there with about the same rebound with a bearing, but the hammer wasn't as lively).  Anyway, I've attempted to attach a few images.  I'll state what I figure so far, and I'm hoping folks here can help correct me - I'm just learning, and enjoy the history of some of the tools as well as working in the shop.  So - 1 1 2 on the "wrong" side of the anvil (on the side with the horn facing to the LEFT, not right), hardy hole but no pritchel - my best guess so far as a William Foster pre 1830 that when new was around 142 lbs.  Forging hole (square) in the base as well as under the horn and heel.  I tried the flour trick as well as a rubbing with tracing paper, but nothing has jumped out at me in the least on the side of the anvil with the horn to the right.


Thank you in advance for any ideas / thoughts, and again my thanks to all for the great community that seems to exist here!







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Is it date stamped?  Or is there traces of markings that could be William Foster?  Since there were over 100 other active anvil manufacturers in England during that period and many of them made anvils similar to the place where they learned the trade; I am always hesitant to ascribe a maker if there is not solid evidence.  Looks and works great and THAT is the important thing and not "who made it".

 I have a WF, clearly stamped and date stamped 1828, and missing the heel and over 90% of the face that I picked up as a piece to try the traditional refacing on if I ever find a team of suitable lunatics....Postman advised me that it would be best to weld the face to a slab or WI and do a WI to WI weld with it.  Now to talk a friend with a BIG press into doing the face to WI weld.....

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I have yet to find a date stamp, or anything on the face I'd expect to find it.  I'll attach a close up of that side - next time I unchain it I'll try the flour trick again (though you can see there is still some there in spots) and post it up in case someone can make better sense of it than me:)


Understanding that there were a lot of anvil makers back in the day, as I mentioned my "best guess" was Foster, and for two reasons which may or may not be good ones.

1)  weight stamped on the opposite side you'd see a Mouse Hole stamped with the weight.  I've read Foster did this, and it would make sense others did as well, but I've not read that anywhere (yet).

2)  Pitting on the side where I hoped to find the date - there are a few other threads of anvil ID with pitting that looks like punch marks, and they've all been Fosters.


Conclusive?  Absolutely not!  But it keeps me looking and researching, which is fun.


Back to the shop for this afternoon's project - campfire rake:)



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Now I'm more confused, but that's OK;)


I spent some time with a wire brush this evening getting more of the old paint off (with safety glasses and mask)... and what should appear?  Well, I can clearly make out "MOUSE", and can believe the next line is "HOLE" (the E is clear at least).  I'll try and post images later if I can get the flour trick to help.


Why am I confused?  The weight (that does have "." between the numbers) and the logo are on what I understand to be the "wrong" side of the anvil (that is, when reading the logo the horn is on the LEFT).


From my last post until now I've had fun making a few Christmas presents (another fire rake and a hand garden rake).

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And for the new images... All I can make out is "Mouse Hole" (two lines) and of course the weight, but perhaps some of you may see more (hence a few different images).  Flour didn't work too well, but diffuse light seemed to.  A few images of the "feet" as well.


Thank you!  Fun to have an idea where/ what age tools came from:)








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You can search the anvil fire website info on these anvils simply by typing in mouse hole dates/ info.

The date is going to be identified by the stamping.  And only narrows it to a twenty year period or so. 

On mine, a much newer anvil,  the stamping begins directly under the 1/4" thick faceplate.  So it is near gone.  Yours is early enough it likely isn't that far up. Mine has maybe eight lines as almost every line is composed of a separate word.

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I did catch that over on anvil fire, but I've also noted some folks here are far better it seeing the bits and pieces that remain than I am.


If I had go guess (and it would be a guess) I'd have to assume a fairly early one (1780-1795), as all I can see are "Mouse Hole" on two lines.  I've been assuming pre-1830 or so due to no pritchel hole.  I'm curious if anyone sees anything else, and if anyone else out there has "Mouse Hole" and the weight on the "wrong" side of the anvil.  Perhaps it was made for a left-handed smith (horn facing the other direction?)

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No serial no?

My serial no. Must mean nothing as anvil fire didn't mention that and obviously other makes use them too and that equates the date.

Did you buy the mouse hole forge book?

I did make a mess with baby powder and it helped a bit but setting it under a light on anvil height stump and using a flashlight from below (and possibly above) did the trick. 

You gots to remember;  many times one side of stamp would be much more pronounced that another. Hence we read FOR as opposed to FORGE .

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SReynolds - thank you for the tip - I'd figured no serial numbers that old.  A bit of wire brushing and on the foot to the left of the makers mark / weight I did find something (or at least choose to believe I did), and with a little scrubbing choose to believe I can make out a few characters: 8 E 2 2 0 (there may be others in there as well, and I have no idea if this "number" even makes sense, as I don't know what Mouse Hole used)


I'm hoping "Santa" may be bringing the Mousehole book;)




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There were almost a dozen (various sizes) to choose from, others "looked" a bit better.  I selected this one given the lively hammer rebound and highest ball bearing rebound (vs others there).


With the little I know I'm pleased with how it works, but as I mentioned I enjoy knowing the history behind my tools (when possible) as well.


Thank you all for your help!

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Congratulations, that's a nice one!

The shape appears to be what Mr. Postman calls an "Old English" type. Colonial patterns were even less refined, typically without a table, and predate both Old English and Modern patterns. Mousehole is clearly stamped there. So, which period did it come from?

The progression of Mousehole maker marks was:-

Mousehole  ~ circa 1780-1795 

C & A Mousehole ~ circa 1795-1820

M&H Armitage Mousehole ~ circa 1820-1835

Henry Armitage Mousehole ~ circa 1835-1854

M&H Armitage Mousehole Forge ~ circa 1854-1875 

They continue on, there are 12 different marks listed by Mr. Postman up to the 1930's when the forge closed. But after the mid 19th century, they would have been of a modern shape, all having pritchel holes.

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