ThomasPowers

Ouch, Local Anvil Prices

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Just saw an anvil on CL, 100# Fisher with part of the heel broken off "$500 Firm".  It was only a couple of years ago in my area I bought a 112# PW, face in great shape but with the end of one foot broken off for US$150.  Pretty much the reason why I sent my latest student home with about an 80# block of steel to work on.  Told him it was a loaner or he could buy it for what I paid: 20 cents a pound at the scrapyard---and feel free to take a couple of months to decide.  I hope to stop by the scrapyard Saturday and pick up another piece for my next student...

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I stopped at a local "antique"(junk) shop. He had 3 Vulcan anvils all under 100# all with face plate damage to varying degrees. He was firm at $450 each. All I could do is laugh and leave.

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But But they were vintage antiques! Those are almost Anchorage prices.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I enjoy watching ebay and gumtree ads for anvils. Particularly the creative wording and what passes for an anvil. The best are those finely carved railroad tracks shaped as a pretend London pattern, turning a passable nail straightener into a church bell that would wake up the dead. 

I said this many times, a beginner would be well advised to buy an ASO made in China for cheap rather than any of the "antique" sold at more than new prices. The few anvil manufacturers left, must be caught in a perpetual celebration

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When I got into this 4 years ago, I bought a 56 centaur branded kohlswa farrier. In might as well be factory new condition & not one of the soft ones either. I thought I was getting robbed at $ 500 or 600 USD. 

How little I knew. Now people around here want that and more for a chunk of rail. Let alone a real anvil. Worn out or not. I looked at a fair condition 120# Arm & Hammer in a junk a month or so back. They wanted almost $2k for it. Wasn't there two weeks later. 

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There are those who are drawn to the romance of a thing.

Then there are those who are driven by necessity or desire, to forge our ideas into things beautiful and, or, useful.

We can manage with the many anvils less coveted.

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I think that a great feature in this forum would be to have a notice board updated with all the possible new anvil manufacturers and their updated prices. Charge a fee for each manufacturer to be on the board. 

Old beaten up anvils sold for more than new prices is an anomaly only possible due to ignorance / lack of information. To repeat time and time again that anvils do not improve with age, like wine or violins will also be beneficial. I remember a seasoned blacksmith on facebook debate vigorously that "old" anvils were better than new ones. 

The old "antique" anvils had their day in the sun and that too will pass. 

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Of course the answer to his contention is "Which old anvils? Which New Anvils?" 

100+ years ago Sears Roebuck sold everything from cast iron ASOs to rebranded HB's (IIRC)  age was not correlated with quality.

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Old vs New. I get asked just about every day whether the old anvils are better than new ones. I am non committal in my reply, just sayin' that my old Kohlswa is good quality and we like it because it is old and fits nicely in our historic setting. I show them the 95% ball bearing return and there are gasps of astonishment. But I do add that you can buy new anvils today that are high quality and some that are not so good. Make your choice according to your wallet.

Among the usual questions, I got one the other day I have never heard before. A lady asked if the blacksmith in the early days worked long hours every day, as many did, would he wear out an anvil? Didn't quite know how to answer that one.

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Of course debating "old" vs "new" is like the proverbial  length of a piece of string. Need more information ... however you would be surprised how enraged some people get when you venture the thought that may be ... just may be ... some new anvils today are superior to their "old" counterparts. And don't even try to compare provenience. Try to say that older german anvils are way better than older english one ... oh my!

As for the working life of an anvil, I have seen anvils worked to death and discarded. PW for example are notoriously soft and would show their age more than some better german one. My 480 lb PW has had a hard life and it shows particularly in the horn that is deformed at the base from thousands of hours of repetition work in a factory ... certainly not making knifes :P

 She is semi retired now with me, and will surely last for another 2 to 300 years at this pace but would probably meet it's maker within a couple of decades of full time heavy work. 

 

 

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There may be no way to accurately compare an old anvil to a new anvil. Today they use an anvil in a different manner and for a different length of time. No more 10 hour days with strikers working on those type of project. 

The only way to compare is to put new brand X anvils beside new brand Y anvils and work both anvils. A hundred years from now compare the difference. It goes without saying that you can no longer go back and purchase another brand Y anvil if that is the one that wins out.  

Then as now, make your best educated guess on which anvil to purchase, and put it to work. If it does not do the job, purchase another anvil that will get the job done.  Besides no one ever said you could only have just one anvil. 

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