Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The Vagaries Of The Hunt (for old tools)
Rule #1 in the hunt for old tools is: “Things are not always predictable.” This rule is often expressed as “You just never know.”
A corollary rule (let’s call it 1A), is “Be persistent.” This rule is often expressed as “Let’s stop here. They look like they might have old tools.”
Let me illustrate these two rules by way of example.
Last year, I was down in Southern Oregon over spring break. I saw that the annual Antique Show was being held on the weekend. It cost $4 to get in the door, and catered towards the collectors. This should NOT have been a good place to look for old tools – but, being a big believer in rule #1, I went. And I scored big. I found a Stanley #62 low angle jack in great shape for under $100 dollars. Not cheap, but a very good price on this plane in this condition. And it's also where I found the infamous cigarette "nib" card. Sweet! Totally worth my time and $4 door fee!
Here’s the #62:
Flash forward to this year. Again I am in Oregon for spring break (family). Again the Antique Show is being held. Again I go, pay my $4 to get in and – strike out. There is nothing, NOTHING, there worth buying. In fact, one of the only hand tools I can find is a battered Stanley 120 with a tag attached explaining the page number in a book that set the price of this junker at $85. Wow! I’m out the door in 20 minutes.
That’s Rule #1 – you just never know…
Now, on the way home Rule 1A came into play. After the disappointment suffered at the show, all I wanted was to go have a burger and a milkshake. However, as I cruised down the road I came across a mini-storage complex with a “flea market” sign at the side of the road. Hmm. I slowed down for a closer look - mostly clothes, videos and car tires. Not a chance. But maybe…
I turned around, went back and parked. I started walking the rows of the complex and it was not looking good. Lots, and lots of junk. And, it was incredibly random. There would be a table set up in front of an open unit – and on the table would be a shoebox full of used plastic cigarette lighters, a bag of sand, a pile of plastic picture frames with no glass, empty perfume bottles, some jugs of anti-freeze and a flat of fresh limes.
But I kept walking, and eventually it paid off. I found “the tool guy”, and although I didn’t get anything amazing, I did get some nice old tools at a great price.
I scored: four old wood handled screwdrivers, a nice pair of 6” Sargent & Co. dividers, a pencil sharpener, and a Stanley #42X saw set in pretty good shape. And the total price was $9. Awesome!
Rule #1A rocks!