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May I get ID help for this family heirloom anvil?


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Hi,

This anvil means a great deal to me. It's been in my possession since 1989... but it wasn't until yesterday that I cleaned and mounted ... and looked for any markings. It was my fathers (1914-1993), and I understand, his fathers prior to that (1882-1959). Not sure how long we used it on the family farm but it was from at least 1968 to 1989.

I wish I had taken photos of the underside before mounting. Here's what I recall: The perimeter of the base was built up about 1/8". This built-up perimeter was between 1/8" and 1/4" wide. There was a square hole in the center of the bottom... about 1" wide. There was deep and distinctive "T" that appeared to be chiseled in next to the hole. There were also two other marks on the bottom, one above the square hole and one below... something like a shallow "C" or crescent shape... maybe 2-3" wide, as I recall.

Any help I could get with this would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,

FN

 

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You  have a "BLACKJACK" branded Hay-Budden anvil.  It was stamped for the J.E. Pilcher hardware company in St. Louis.

Unfortunately more than half of the anvil's hardened faceplate appears to have broken off. 

The serial number on the front foot looks to be possibly a 5-digit number, maybe starting with a "3"....  if so, that would be the 1897 ballpark according to Anvils In America.

Here's a better version of your stamp:

PILCHER.jpg

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Thanks very much for the quick reply!

I was wondering why the face had one additional step in it compared to photos I have seen of others. Is there any chance it may have been made that way.... or modified to suit ones particular needs better?

Any idea how old it might be?

 

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4 hours ago, fishnaked said:

I was wondering why the face had one additional step in it compared to photos I have seen of others. Is there any chance it may have been made that way.... or modified to suit ones particular needs better?

Not impossible, lots of anvils were modified in the day. However I doubt it, for whatever reason I THINK the face plate became delaminated, the forge weld broke and the hard steel face broke off. If that's so and it's from the era Froggy thinks then the piece of steel face would've been recycled in house. The anvil maybe just put in a shed and forgotten.

It'd be pretty spendy to repair, though some clubs hold regular anvil workshops. What are your plans for it?

Frosty The Lucky.

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15 hours ago, Frosty said:

What are your plans for it?

Frosty The Lucky.

Thank you all for the help!

My plans, I guess, are to continue using it, as is,  in the fashion I've known it to be used since I can remember (I'm 49 yrs old). I'll use it as a solid surface to straighten or bend metal, to slight degrees. That's how we used it on the farm. No forging heat. We were not blacksmiths.

I'm guessing the top was broken off before my time as that is how I always remember it. Maybe I'll repair it some day but, for as little as I'll likely use it, I'm guessing it will remain as is.

Thanks again for all the help. If anyone else has additional input, I'd love to hear it.

Cheers!

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15 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Unfortunately that would be rather like saying that your car engine was missing the head and asking if it might have been built that way.

I have to agree in this case but one of the books I used to have had a number of articles about whether to modify or buy an anvil for making "French Clips". The Mod was a rectangular section of face, maybe a couple inches wide all the way across that had been removed over the sweet spot. I don't recall seeing a pic of a French clip, reading about what they were, anything but how to modify your anvil.

The book was a collection of blacksmithing trade articles covering a long time and it walked with most of my smithing library, tools, etc. back when. I can't even remember the name of the book. I didn't spend a lot of time reading the articles as they weren't how tos and I needed the how tos. Being contemporary trade articles it took a lot for granted that really messed up a new guy like me. There had to be at least half a dozen articles that assumed you knew what a French Clip was and how to make them so it didn't say boo about how. Looking back it still doesn't make sense for making collars or the like.

Frosty The Lucky.

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5 minutes ago, Frosty said:

The book was a collection of blacksmithing trade articles covering a long time and it walked with most of my smithing library, tools, etc. back when. I can't even remember the name of the book.

Richardson's Practical Blacksmithing has a lot of articles about making French clips, and I still don't know what they are or why one would want to make one.

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54 minutes ago, JHCC said:

Richardson's Practical Blacksmithing has a lot of articles about making French clips, and I still don't know what they are or why one would want to make one.

do french anvils typically have a step in them? Could it be a modification to create a step (much less drastic than the on in this thread's OP)? 

My knowledge of anvils is almost none, and french anvils especially. just a guess

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Can one tell the purpose, or quality of steel, by bouncing a hammer on the face? For the lack of a knowledgeable way of describing it, when I drop a hammer on the face in question, it bounces back several times and... well, it just has a nice ring to my ears... undoubtedly in large part to the sentimental value this big hunk of metal has for me. There is no dull thud.

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You bet.  One thing we talk about frequently with regards to anvils is the "ball bearing test"  where you drop a ball bearing on the face and estimate what percent it rebounds off the anvil face.   The better the rebound, the better the anvil.  Softer steel will tend to have less rebound and be subject to deformation when struck (hammer marks in the face).  Hardened steel plates typically show no deformation, but may chip at the edges of the anvil when struck.

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26 minutes ago, Charcold said:

do french anvils typically have a step in them? Could it be a modification to create a step (much less drastic than the on in this thread's OP)? 

My knowledge of anvils is almost none, and french anvils especially. just a guess

French anvils usually do not have a step, but are more or less continuous along the entire top, from tip to tip.

This anvil is a Hay Budden, an American anvil made in Brooklyn. 

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Thanks, guys! What is that "9" or "6" stamped to the left of the square hole?

Also, from what I have gathered thus far, Hay Budden made quality anvils. Correct? If so, to what extent? Average good? Really good? Amongst the best?

Lastly, roughly how much money did these sell for in ~1879?

 

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Hay Budden was/is considered one of the best anvils ever made.  But they were not in business in 1879.  They started production in 1892.

Late 1800's anvils were roughly $0.08 to $0.11 per pound, that varied on manufacturer and weight.

 

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1 hour ago, JHCC said:

French anvils usually do not have a step, but are more or less continuous along the entire top, from tip to tip.

This anvil is a Hay Budden, an American anvil made in Brooklyn. 

AHH yes didn't mean to connect the two(french clips and this anvil), I don't think this anvil was purposefully altered, if it was the person who did it seems misguided. 

 

Was just making a wild guess that since french anvils dont traditionally come with steps that may be the motivation behind the french clip, this is the first i've heard of that type of alteration. 

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23 minutes ago, Black Frog said:

Hay Budden was/is considered one of the best anvils ever made.  But they were not in business in 1879.  They started production in 1892.

Late 1800's anvils were roughly $0.08 to $0.11 per pound, that varied on manufacturer and weight.

 

Thanks! I transposed those numbers. Meant to say 1897

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Read up on the ball bearing test as it tries to quantify the amount of bounce.  I've had people tell me that their cast iron anvil had lots of rebound when hammered on; but when I tried it, I thought it was extremely little rebound---they didn't have a good baseline on which to make a  qualitative judgement...

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