Antique Tools Identification: Types & Value

Many people don’t know this, but many old tools we are used to are worth a lot of money. These tools, like saws, scrapers, sickles, and hammers, are valuable to the right people and can fetch you a couple of hundred bucks if you know their value.

Unfortunately, many vintage tool owners don’t know their tools’ worth. Some others overestimate the value of the ones they have, while others don’t even know how to identify antique tools.

This guide will go through what antique tools are, how to identify them and what they are worth today. Let’s dive in.

What Are Antique Tools?

Antique or Vintage tools are not as old as we think. Today, there are so many mechanical tools, gadgets, and devices for doing a lot of work that have made a lot of hand tools look outdated. Vintage tools are tools that require some manual input to function.

Examples include hammers, saws, planes, chisels, axes, etc. They could be pretty recent or as old as the 19th century; it doesn’t matter.

Over the years, while the use of these tools has not changed much, the features have been modified. For example, some of them have been created with different materials and have different shapes.

This often means that the old material with the old characteristics is now worth much more than the new ones, especially when they are rare.

Identification of Antique Hand Tools

Tools are not antique just because they are old and rusty or in poor condition, even though that is the case most of the time. They are antique because some are made using materials that are not commonly used again. This makes them very rare.

There are different specific reasons why different antiques are worth more than others. To understand those specific reasons, you have to study each one separately.

The purpose behind buying the antique tool is an essential factor in buying those tools. If you want an antique tool as a collectible, you won’t bother much about its look. However, if you want to use the hammer, you want to make sure the hammer is in good condition.

Different Kinds of Vintage Tools: How To Identify Antique tools

This section will go through some of the different tools and what you should look for to know their worth.

Vintage Hammers

Let’s start with a great handy tool everyone knows and uses all around the house: the hammer. A hammer is a vital instrument in the house or workshop. Whether you want to hang a clock or build a cupboard, the hammer is an essential instrument.

Also, brass mallets are used for automotive and other essential jobs.

Because hammers were some of the first tools ever created, they have undergone various modifications and have different types. Therefore, before determining if an antique hammer is worth buying, you need to understand what kind of hammer it is.

Here are a few tips to help you determine if the hammer you have is worth anything:

  1. Find out the age of the hammer: Generally, the older the hammer, the more valuable it is. Old hammers are not easy to find, especially with new modifications. Many old ones have broken down and disappeared from the market, so any old one you have is worth a lot.
  2. Look at the material used to make the hammer: The metal used to make the head of the hammer dramatically impacts the price of the hammer. Steel vintage hammers are not as common as those made of iron, so they may be worth more.
    Almost all hammers have wooden handles, so the hammer’s handle might not matter much in your consideration.
  3. Find out how rare the hammer is: Some hammers are rare because the manufacturers did not produce them in large quantities or because production stopped years ago. As a result, these are often worth more than the ones in abundance.
  4. Check the condition of the hammer: An antique hammer collector may value the hammer in lousy condition, but a person who wants to use the hammer will not think they are worth as much.

Also, you can check the manufacturer’s name and the model number on the hammer. This can help you with your identification to know how to price the hammer correctly.

If you want to add a vintage hammer to your collection, you can purchase one at an online or physical shop where antiques are sold. You can also sell them to collectors at these places.

An excellent example of a site that sells vintage hammers is eBay, and depending on your hammer type and quality, you can sell them to collectors for between $25 and $200.

RARE Antique Double Claw Hammer Price
RARE Antique Double Claw Hammer (Sold $177.50)

Wood Planes

Any carpenter who is worth anything knows that wood planes are extremely important woodworking hand tools. Sure, new power instruments have taken the stage, but as a hand tool, the value of a wood plane cannot be overemphasized.

Since the reign of the Roman empire, carpenters and woodworkers have used planes to smoothen wood for construction, furniture, and paneling.

Though their design has remained unchanged for the most part, the materials used to construct planes have evolved over the years. As a result, collectors are interested in buying your antique plane if you can identify them and prove their worth.

The easiest way to identify a plane and determine its worth is by knowing its manufacturer and the material used to produce it. Let s go through some of the common brands.

Stanley Plane with Brazilian Rosewood

Scarce Antique Stanley Bedrock Plane #602 Woodworking Tool Pat 1910
Scarce Antique Stanley Bedrock Plane #602 Woodworking Tool Pat 1910 (Sold $2,949.99)

The plane manufacturer responsible for the Stanley Plane has been around since 1843 and has become the standard for planes. These kinds are often worth a lot because of their solid brand name. Every Stanley plane has patent numbers pressed into the metal for easy identification.

Belknap Plane

Belknap Plane
Vintage Belknap Bench Plane Bluegrass Louisville 306 307 NAP (Sold $9.00)

This plane has existed since the early 1840s, designed by the Belknap Hardware and Manufacturing Company. The plane brand of the Belknap company was called Blue Grass, and they provided the Stanley Plane with some stiff competition.

Union Plane

Union X-3 Plane - Type 1
Union X-3 Plane – Type 1 (Sold $355.00)

One significant but usually neglected plane brand was the Union Plane, manufactured in the 1880s. Not all antique hand planes made by Union have their logo pressed, but they are worth a lot if you can correctly identify them.

Of all these brands, the Stanley brand is often associated with quality. For example, the tote and the knob of many Stanley planes are made using the well-grained and beautifully-colored Brazilian rosewood.

Antique Wrenches

Wrenches are essential in loosening or tightening nuts and bolts. If you are a welder, mechanic, etc., you need a wrench as a handy tool to help with many of your processes.

Since as far back as the 15th century, different sets of people have multiple wrench heads to help with different tasks. From working on suits of armor to working on pipe clamps, fixed and adjustable wrenches have served important roles throughout history.

Wrenches haven’t changed much in the design, but many of these old tools are still around. However, other indicators like carvings and rare cutout handle designs make some wrenches worth more than others.

Let us look at some of these antique tools and some things that set them apart from others just like them.

  • The Wrench handle: Like other antique tools, antique wrenches have something special on their handle. Unlike new models with a metallic shaft, vintage wrenches often have wooden handles over their shafts.
Wooden Handle Pipe Wrench
Wooden Handle Pipe Wrench (Sold $10)
  • Shaft: Modern shafts are often straight, but vintage wrenches used to have curved shafts. True vertical shafts are often preferred for wrenches because they help the user with torque, but they are not as convenient for reaching tight places.
    If your shaft is twisted, it is likely a vintage wrench.
Antique Tools Adjustable Curved WRENCH VINTAGE Tools 11 BILLINGS SPENCER
Antique Tools Adjustable Curved WRENCH VINTAGE Tools 11 BILLINGS SPENCER (Sold $401.00)
  • Head of the Wrench: Modern wrenches usually have at most 2 heads, one on either side of the shaft. Antique wrenches, like other antique hand tools, have proven to be different, with unique charges.
    Some vintage wrenches have as many as three heads on one side of the shaft. These wrenches are fixed and help when there are different types of nuts to loosen or tighten.
IRON AGE E39 CUT OUT WRENCH
IRON AGE E39 CUT OUT WRENCH (Sold $64.00)

If you find someone looking to add a wrench to their collection, you can trade your vintage wrench to them. You can also trade them at an auction if you know of anywhere they are selling vintage items.

Vintage Saws

Saws are essential in carpentry and other woodworking projects. In addition, some saws are used to cut iron and other metals. Therefore, it is an indispensable tool for any handyman.

Hand saws have been essential to the world throughout history. Since 1500BC, humans have used hand saws to cut wood for different purposes.

Many people think their vintage saw is not worth much. However, after reading this section, you can identify your vintage saw and market it for the right price.

One of the easiest ways to identify a vintage hand saw is by looking at the manufacturer’s name. Let us look at some of the manufacturers and brands collectors often look out for.

Disston & Son

Disston and Son took over the world of hand saws in the 1860s with beautifully crafted saws that many collectors today want in their collections.

Before it became a prized collectible, it was a vital woodworking instrument with a significant sign embedded on the handle: the Medallion of H. Disston & Son. Also, on the brass back of the saw, you will find the maker’s

the Medallion of H. Disston & Son. Also
the Medallion of H. Disston & Son. Also
Henry Disston & Son's Extra Nibbed Carpenter's Handsaw Saw 26 10 pt.
Henry Disston & Son’s Extra Nibbed Carpenter’s Handsaw Saw 26 10 pt. (Sold $92.00)

Simonds Hand Saw

Simonds’s hand saw is a brand of hand saws manufactured by JT Farwell & Co. in the 1850s. Though not as prolific as Disston & Sons, they are some of the best hand saws ever made. They have a distinctive medallion on the handle of the saw.

You can trade them on eBay for as high as $50.

Simonds Hand Saw Marks
Simonds Hand Saw Marks
Vintage SIMONDS NO. 72 Hand Saw - 2.00 MEDALLION Collectible Saw
Vintage SIMONDS NO. 72 Hand Saw – 2.00 MEDALLION Collectible Saw (Sold $49.90)

E.C Atkins & Co

E.C Atkins saws were created in 1855 and produced saws until 1952 when the people in charge sold the company to another corporation. For this reason, all saws created within those 97 years are considered highly valuable.

The Atkin saw, just like others on this list, has a medallion displaying its symbol on its handle. If you find one with a medallion, you can trade it for as much as $27  on eBay.

E.C Atkins & Co hand saw marks
E.C Atkins & Co hand saw marks
Vintage 26.5-Inch E.C. Atkins & Co. Ornate Hand Saw
Vintage 26.5-Inch E.C. Atkins & Co. Ornate Hand Saw (Sold $27.00)

Harvey Peace Company

The Harvey Peace Company was not as famous as other hand saw manufacturers, but it provided great saws that could rival the others. They started making saws in 1863 and perfected the art of making top-notch hand saws for woodworking projects.

You can also find a medallion displaying the company’s symbol on their handsaws. If you have one with a medallion, you can trade it for over $58  on eBay.

The Medallion of Harvey Peace
The Medallion of Harvey Peace
vintage Harvey W Peace 14 tenon size back saw, old cabinet shop tool hand saw
vintage Harvey W Peace 14 tenon size back saw, old cabinet shop tool hand saw (Sold $58.00)

Apart from studying the manufacturers and looking out for essential symbols, there are other important factors to look out for when determining the worth of an antique hand saw.

  • The Blade: The shape and condition of the blade tell you if the antique saw is worth buying. Check if the antique saw blade is bent or kinked in any way. If it is, it might be great for your collection but not for your use.
  • The Handle: Check if the handle has been cut. Sometimes, carpenters and other handypersons cut off the horn of a hand saw so that it fits better in a toolbox. A truncated handle won’t let you work as efficiently as you want it to.
  • The teeth: The teeth line is crucial if you plan on using the saw. One or two missing teeth might not be a problem, but more than two missing teeth in a row will make it harder for you to cut.

Also, you must determine the type of saw you want, whether it is a pit, cross-cut, panel, etc. A complete understanding of the characteristics of the saw will help you correctly estimate the value of the saw and how much you can trade it.

Hand Drills

Hand drills are very common in our homes and places of work today. Most of us are used to today’s electrical or battery-powered hand drills. However, before those drills became popular, manual drills were used a lot.

These manual drills are still in use today for quick tasks or when you need an extra touch of control and precision for your work. Yet, those old, trusty manual drills are often worth more than we think.

If you have an antique hand drill in your house, you can trade it for some good dollars if you know how to identify it correctly. Depending on the manual drill’s type, make, and other characteristics, you can sell it for $100 or more on eBay.

Antique c1912 Rusby Newark, NJ Expandable Cast Iron Hand Drill Woodwork Tool NR
Antique c1912 Rusby Newark, NJ Expandable Cast Iron Hand Drill Woodwork Tool NR (Sold $132.50)

Antique Axe

Axes have had different uses since it was first made in 6000 BC. Most people used it for splitting wood and chopping trees, but axes have also been used as a weapon for different tribes during wars before modernized war tools were created.

Even though many humans still use and produce new axes today, the demand for old ones has increased over the years.

Old axes are worth some good money if you can identify them and trade them correctly. Also, if you are looking for a vintage ax to buy, good eyes for identification will serve you well.

Before you can adequately gauge the worth of your ax, you need to determine your purpose with the said ax. Do you want to use it, or do you want to keep it as a collectible item? If you want to use it, you need to take a close look at the condition of the blade and helve.

If you just want it as an antique item to store in your house, you should leave it the way it is. All the markings and inconsistencies on the helve don’t matter that much.

If you have a solid ax in good condition, you can sell it for up to $300 or more on e-commerce sites like eBay.

Vintage Kelly Axe MFG CO Black Raven Axe Tool-1
Vintage Kelly Axe MFG CO Black Raven Axe Tool-1
Vintage Kelly Axe MFG CO Black Raven Axe Tool-2
Vintage Kelly Axe MFG CO Black Raven Axe Tool-2 (Sold $1,526.00)

Vintage Clamp

A clamp is a fastening tool used to hold objects together to prevent them from falling or getting separated when you are applying inward pressure. For instance, you can clamp a piece of wood to a work table when you are sawing to hold the wood securely to the table.

Like others on this list, the clamp has been a vital woodworking tool for centuries. Carpenters, welders, and other handypersons have used the clamp for many years to securely fasten objects in a workstation.

Thanks to its age, the clamp has seen many changes and modifications. Some clamps are made of cast iron, while others are wooden. The wooden clamps are the earliest forms of hand clamps, so they are often worth more than cast iron clamps.

Unfortunately, many vintage clamps, especially the wooden ones, don’t have the manufacturer’s designs or logos, so they might be difficult to date.

However, you can judge clamps using their condition and make educated guesses about what you think they’re worth. Some different styles and shapes raise or reduce the worth of different vintage clamps.

Depending on the condition and age of your clamps, you can trade them on eBay, at an auction, or to a collector for up to $70 or more.

Rare ANTIQUE TOOLS Stanley VICTOR JERSEY Clamping Bench Vise EXCLNT!
Rare ANTIQUE TOOLS Stanley VICTOR JERSEY Clamping Bench Vise EXCLNT! (Sold $71.00)

Online Articles and Resources

Going through websites like Fine Tool Journal can be helpful when looking for information about specific tools you own. You can learn about features and characteristics and even see other instruments for sale.

The internet also allows you to search for details about your old tools and their worth on different sites. In addition, you can utilize a website’s resources by reviewing the page where tools like yours are sold and looking at their average price.

There are also websites like eBay where you can list or buy antique items like hand tools and resell them at an auction. In addition, some sites can guide you on how to trade your antique tools and what they are worth.

Finally, some sites act as collectors, you can reach out to them and tell them the condition of your tool, and they’ll tell you how much they are willing to pay for it.

You can also exchange pictures with them. Finally, you can trade your antique item with them if you are okay with their price.

Conclusion

To trade your antique tools for the best prices, you must understand your tool’s various vital characteristics. This way, you can charge a premium for your tool, whether at an auction or to a private collector.

Most tools have visible characteristics, like their unique heads or gold plated handles, making them instantly worth more than others. On the other hand, other tools require careful identification and study to discover their uniqueness.

Hopefully, this guide has helped shed some light on some of the critical characteristics an instrument must have to qualify it as a vintage tool.

If you want more information about how to purchase or trade antique tools like the ones listed in this guide, you can search for auctioneers and resource collectors with a quick Google search.

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