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I Forge Iron

If anvils could talk, what stories they could tell

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I inherited this anvil a number of years ago and it is reputed to be over a couple of hundred years old (Have to get Matt89 to run a carbon dating check on it?)

I had thought of repairing it and started to dress around the missing piece on the table, but decided against it, and have found the area to be quite useful for straightening items over.

I don't use tools in the hardie hole as its very thin around that area.

Although it has seen better days it still does its job, doesn't complain or cost much to run, and has just come back from holiday as a loan to a budding smith who now has his own anvil.

What a tale this one could tell.







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My anvil would tell of once belonging to the Tallahassee/St. Marks railroad. Once the railroad was shut down the anvil was sold as scrap. It was bought by a young man who owned a small fleet of fishing boats and decided to do any metal repair work needed himself. The anvil was used mainly to make grappel anchors. It then passed on to one of the fishermans grandsons who used it for various things but never for its intended use, mainly as a handy hammering surface. This mans son inherited the anvil and stored it away in his garage for 25 years or more. The sons cousin decided to move back home after more than 45 years away.The cousin spotted the anivil rusting away in the garage while visiting one day and asked if he could have it and put it back into use as the cousin was a beginner blacksmith. The anvil now sits in the cousins forge and is being used as it was meant to be. This anvil is to be passed on to another cousin in order to keep it in the family. These two cousins are in the process of combining their forges and the anvil will be used by both.

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Short Stories:
My big Fisher (515#) came out of a RR shop and had been used as the anvil for a Blacker triphammer. When the shop closed down it followed one of the workers home until I bought it years later.

My big Trenton? (410#) came from a copper mine in AZ and had been abused in it's later life, air arc gouges and crush injuries. I traded a 125# PW, a postvise screw and screwbox and some cash for it. It's seen the plastic surgeon and had a face lift and is looking much better now thank you...

My Hay Budden came from an *old* HVAC/plumbing company. I talked with the Son of the owner who told me that they had moved it to the "new" building in the 1930's. (He was retired and was selling off the business because none of his kids wanted to run it.)

My Bridge anvil was used in the old oilpatch to sharpen cable tool drill bits and like most of those they considered it a consumable. It's language would probably calcine the mud on a roughneck!

My Peter Wright I got off a farrier in Arkansas who found that 165# was a bit much for a travel anvil and she was right.

My Arm and Hammer is mute---though it rings like a bell; it shows years of work but is in good shape and at 91# gets a lot more exercise as my travel anvil than many of the brutes left back at the shop. I brought it home to Columbus OH where it had been made; then drug it out to NM with me---it was in the first load I took out to live in our new house for 6 months before anything else was moved: my camping equipment; my clothes and a propane forge, bucket of tools and that anvil.

And then there is the "wall of shame" anvils badly damaged remnants of once proud tools:

My 1828 William Foster was seriously abused with heel and 90% of the face plates gone; it's tale would probably make me wake up crying at night. Picked it up for $5 maybe a nickle a pound for the wrought iron and the 1828 piece of steel that's left...

An unknown base of an anvil, weight stamps said it originally weighed over 100# but everything above the waist is missing now

My "loaner anvil" weighs over 100# but is missing the heel, good flat face, ok horn cost about 33 cents a pound and the name on it starts POW just like my name...

Finally the remains of a totally trashed smallish vulcan anvil a gift from the fine arts metals teacher when I found her a swedish cast steel anvil to replace it---for free! Most of the face worn through and almost a ridgeback to the cast iron, bad slices from an angle grinder and one student broke off the horn in class, (nb: *VERY* bad casting flaws in the anvil; but still...)

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I have 2 Farrier anvils that I believe to be hay buddens, though I have never worked to see if there is any lettering on the sides or not? Both are about 250 lbs and other than the wear on the face they are nearly twins other than one having two pritchel holes and the other only has one.

Any ways the story they could tell, one hasn't much story as the guy I bought it from knew nothing about it... The nicer one though has a great story.

Bought new by a local farrier and horse trader. The horse trader sold the anvil upon retirement to his neighbor who was opening a auto repair shop. This gentleman made many a part of model T's and such until parts became cheaper to buy than to make.

The old anvil just kept getting handed down through the family as the repair shop became an used car dealership. Seldom used and often in the way it got pushed off into a corner. Years later the dealership got a new oil furnace to heat the building. The oil furnace not being quite as tall as the previous coal furnace they needed to block it up to match the duct work above. They tried a cinder block but it was a bit to short so they shoved the old anvil under it and there it sat for at least 40 years. Out of the weather well out of harms way from the heat of the furnace and allowed to be out of sight and out of mind.

Early 1990's I wandered in to look at a truck on this car lot. While there they was removing the now old oil furnace making room for an addition to the building. Immediately after the furnace was rolled out the anvil came out and the guys carrying it called out where do you want this old junk anvil. I in jest said in the back of my car. The owner looked at me and said you want it? I said sure what do you want for it? I gave him $150 (A good part of the down payment I would have used on that truck I was looking at) They put it in my trunk and I lived with my car for another couple years so I could have that anvil. 10 years later I did buy a truck from that dealership, first question out of the owners mouth when I walked in, "still got that anvil". I said sure do and plenty glad to own it. He just laughed and then proceeded to sell me the truck I have today.

Edited by ironrosefarms
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Reminds me of my reply to Glenn's post of June 25th "What finish to put on an anvil" that I posted June 27th.
For any of us to sit in our shops and see these old tools become animate and speak... To tell of where they have been and what they have witnessed would be awesome. All we can do is "read" the scars and wonder.
Still, I would love to know. :rolleyes:Dan

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  • 1 month later...

My Peter Wright anvil is a 300lb+ and sits on a stand filled with concrete that weighs another 300lbs. It has a small chip in the front corner above the table, and has a dead thud when struck. But the rebound gives back a whole bunch, and I don't mind the lack of ringing in my ears that my Budden has. I believe my anvil would say " Go ahead and try to pick me up, I love the sound of squishing disks in the morning" I traded the big one for a 115lb anvil "mousehole" because the guy could not move it around his shop easily enough, and had no offers on it, I think I paid 125 for the mousehole. Best deal I ever made.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 months later...

John, I've been trying to learn a little about working-out anvils' ages recently. From what I've seen this old warhorse is probably from the latter half of the 18th century -- what the Yanks would perhaps term 'revolutionary' or 'colonial'. Jymm Hoffman casts a similar pattern from modern steel, and another version minus the horn -- you can see it here: Colonial Pattern Anvil - Blacksmith Photo Gallery. I wonder how it compares with yours, size and weight wise?

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I had an old 180 lb mousehole style that was reputed to date from around 1730. Other than being a bit swaybacked, it was in good shape and did not have the usual cracked edges. It had a small horn and no visible table height apart from where the face plate attached to the body. The face was thin - only about 1/4" - but was hard and bounced a hammer just fine.

My 250 PW is from around 1850 or so - makes me realize my tools will very likely outlive me...and my kids.

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I know a little of the history of my 125lb Sodorfors. It was bought new in 1933 by a smith who came to this country. He ended up becoming a farrier and sold it to the fellow I bought it from another farrier. So, I'm the third owner but not a farrier.

I have zero idea what the history of my 200lb Trenton is though she's seen a working life.

If they could talk they'd probably say something like. "You hit like a GIRL!" And when I miss, "OWE! Watch it you ham fisted idiot!" Though in less polite terms I'm sure. :rolleyes:


Edited by Frosty
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My Hay Budden was sitting in the very back of an old dutch barn in Macedon NY, I was at a yard sale and just happened to ask if any BS tools were around. The owner took me back to the barn, we moved some stuff, it was covered with crud, and he said for 100 bucks it's yours. I wiped off just a bit to see if the edges were good, and decided for 100 bucks it was worth it. When she went under the brush, the letters "dden" showed up and I went ballistic. It's about 120 some odd pounds, and sweeeeeet. It probably would say something like, 'I am sooo glad he figured out which end of the hammer to grab, geez, this guy is blind. Ouch, he missed again"!

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  • 1 month later...

I have an old 160 lb anvil that I bought off a guy for $20. It is currently undergoing reconstructive surgery to replace the edges that were knocked off by someone with no respect for an anvil. My buddy suspects that some 14 year old kid discovered that hitting the edges with a sledgehammer would make a chunk of steel fly off, and kept it up until there was no edge left. My anvil's story would be one of abuse and neglect.
We have the technology... We can rebuild it.

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