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Trenton anvil and have a few questions


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I got this Trenton anvil a few weeks ago. It seems in pretty good shape, with no real damage that I can tell, and no visible repairs that I can note.

I'm wondering if this anvil is too old, so that its' face is not a highly tempered face. I have dropped a ball bearing on the face and the rebound is poor 50% (or a bit less?). I have 4 older smaller blacksmith hammers and one of them has pretty good rebound off the face, and all around the face , front to back. The other three smaller hammers have poor rebound everywhere. So I am wondering if this anvil is too old to have a highly tempered face? I ask this because I am not sure what to expect about the face response question/health.

The serial seems to be A (lower left leg gone in the divot) 310 (6 seems to be the consensus of the last digit). I do not know how to age this anvil based upon the apparent serial.

Hourglass bottom. On the whole the anvil seems in very good shape. W seems as 178 or 173. I think 178. My lbs scale says 174.5.


There is another Trenton post, here and that anvil seems to have Columbus USA, or something like that below Trenton. On my anvil I can not make anything out below the Trenton name.

Thanks you your help in clarifying these questions.















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Definitely not ''too old'' to have a hardened face plate. You can easily see the line where the HC face starts in your last pic, so it hasn't been milled off either. As Mr. Powers will usually point out, it is possible to have an anvil loose its temper if it was the victim of a shop fire. Make sure that the bearing you are using to test with is actually a real (hardened) bearing and not something else. Also, if there is any rust, paint, oil, or anything but bare steel on either the anvil or the bearing, it can throw the results off very significantly. I doubt this, but someone could have decided to "repair" the face at some point... The rolled edge in the last pic does seem to indicate a softer face than most Trentons i have seen which chip before they roll. Regardless of the rebound, it is still a usable anvil as is, and don't try to repair it without lots of experience and know-how.

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To not have been built with a steel face on it; the anvil would not look like a London pattern one in the first place!

The circular stamp reads Solid Wrought, IIRC.

The mushrooming of the edges seems indicative of having a softer face; with most anvils they fracture on the edges.  If the ball bearing tests out and the face is clean; I'd go with it has lost it's harder temper due to mischance.

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Ok, thank you for the info. These are the ball bearings:

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AISI 52100


The finest quality chrome steel produced in accordance with the highest industry standards. These high precision G25 ball bearings are hot forged from bar stock. Modern furnaces with precisely controlled atmospheres and temperatures are used for heat treating to assure uniform hardness and proper microstructure for each stainless steel ball. Throughout the manufacturing process, statistical process control assures tolerance accuracy, fine surface finish and consistent high quality. Chrome steel balls offer the precise geometry and fine surface finish that makes them especially useful for bicycles, casters, drawer slides, door locks and many other applications."

The front portion of the face, closer to the horn, has a solid ring, and the sound hears as 'solid'. As I test the rebound/sound, nearing the center of the face is changes to a sound which reminds me of a floor tile that has been installed, and has a hallow (no adhesive) sound when you tap on it, due to the tile not being adhered/lack of glue or connection in that area. 

I'll sand off any stuff on the top and see if it helps. I'll make a short video after the cleaning and re-testing. Maybe the rolling edge and center poor rebound/sound are due to a lot of wear in the center? There is only about 1/16" saddle in the center.

I note your warnings not to mess with it. 


Thomas Powers: I'm not familiar with "To not have been built with a steel face on it; the anvil would not look like a London pattern one in the first place!"


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First of all: I see what it's supposed to be; but no guarantee that it is. Note AISI 52100 is NOT a stainless steel; too low a chromium content. This throws doubt on any other claim they make. Most likely they are ball bearings and most likely 52100; however...Cleaning any crud off the anvil's face will help the testing.  

Note that structure fires were fairly common with wooden structures heated and lit by flames not to mention working a forge within them.  Such a fire is quite able to heat an anvil past it's original tempering temperature and in some cases can actually anneal it!

Do you know what a London Pattern Anvil is? Anyway it's a fairly recent design---only a couple of centuries old compared to blacksmithing which is closer to 3000 years old.  By the time they were making London Pattern Anvils; they were making anvils with a hardened steel face as standard.  If your anvil was old enough to NOT have been made with a hardened steel face it would NOT be a London Pattern Anvil.

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Thank you. I will find a stainless steel ball bearing, w/hardness 58-65 Rockwell. 

I'll post up after I get the time to go back and clean off the face and use a stainless steel, hardened bearing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Took a fun trip to Seattle between the last post. Great city and food.

Anyway I have sanded the crud from the face, and while doing that went through a few layers of rust and black crud. Now, with a (new) hardened ball bearing the rebound is about consistent across the face, with a 12" drop the bearing comes just above 9-10 inches. Good recommendation C-1ToolSteel to make sure of the ball bearing quality and clean face.

I've done some research on Trenton's and it is really a pretty interesting history of the company and folks working at the foundry. This info coming largely from Postman's bible. The W 173/178 denotes that either Cy Wright or Karl Wright was the anvil maker. The hole in the front foot dates the anvil to pre-1904, or there about. The hour glass bottom was faded out between 1907 to 1910. The solid diamond around the Trenton logo pre-dates the hashed diamond of about 1927. The serial, A310X (6,8,3 ?), dates it to 1898 (serials A 0-4000), the first year of production.

I'm looking forward to making up a furnace this late summer and having some heat and noise making fun.

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