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Jonathan Hodge




Location: East Tennessee
Joined: 18 Sep 2015

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2016 1:15 pm    Post subject: Early American Axe Head         Reply with quote

Hello fellow forumites. I've got a family member who thinks he may have run across an early American hewing axe of some kind. The head is much closer to hatchet size than to full size. I was hoping some folks here might have some experience and help me identify a rough time period or point me int he right direction. Pictures attached. Thanks!


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David Hohl




Location: Oregon
Joined: 07 Feb 2011

Posts: 57

PostPosted: Mon 28 Mar, 2016 4:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks similar to a Pennsylvania style broad axe. The hammer head is a bit unusual but you do see them sometimes especially in the smaller hatchets.
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Jonathan Hodge




Location: East Tennessee
Joined: 18 Sep 2015

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Mon 28 Mar, 2016 7:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks David. Any idea what time frame this style was popular?
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 983

PostPosted: Mon 28 Mar, 2016 9:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Carpenter's axes of almost exactly this design are used even today, although modern ones usually also incorporate a nail extractor.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Victor R.




Location: Spring, Texas
Joined: 28 Jan 2008
Reading list: 4 books

Posts: 240

PostPosted: Mon 28 Mar, 2016 10:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I recall a virtually identical little hatchet in my grandmother's garage back in the early to mid 70's. It was a little age darkened, but was still mostly sharp and highly functional. Grandma came from a blacksmithing/railroad family and grandpa was a butcher out of an agricultural family. They raised chickens, ducks, geese, guinea and other fowl on their property for both personal and commercial purposes, so I expect that little hatchet had duties beyond building and repairing the fowl houses - think 8'x15'x7' walk-in wooden structures (or close to those dimensions) fronted by chicken wire.

I suspect it dated to the 30's or 40's, but could have been older - grandpa was born in around 1906, grandma around 1920, and it could have been borrowed from the prior generation, but I doubt it. In any event, when I was a kid, it was the closest thing I had seen to a tomahawk and thought it would be great fun to run around with pretending to be an "Indian" (grandma didn't agree....).

While the style and type may date much further back, I wouldn't be surprised if your piece was early 20th.
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Jonathan Hodge




Location: East Tennessee
Joined: 18 Sep 2015

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Mon 28 Mar, 2016 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing your story Victor. I too have fond memories of running across old knives and hatchets of this kind in my grandfather's old tools (he was born in 1928) that he had received from his father, or had been around even longer. This head was found on the farm when trenches were being dug for new well water lines to the house. We know that there have been a succession of houses on the site where the most modern (1930's) house is now. We have good evidence to show that the site has been occupied at least since the late 18th century, and possibly even the mid 18th. I have my doubts as to whether a design of this kind would go back that far...but I'm nowhere close to an expert on tools of this kind. Needless to say, it has definitely seen it's use, and has been left in the ground for quite some time. I'd love to be able to put a 50-year span on it's date of origin if possible simply because it would add more depth and another element of character to the story of the property.
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David Hohl




Location: Oregon
Joined: 07 Feb 2011

Posts: 57

PostPosted: Mon 28 Mar, 2016 7:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not an expert, but I don't think that design goes back past 1800, if that far. It looks quite thick for a modern carpenters hatchet, but that could just be the photo. Is there any asymmetry to it?
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Jonathan Hodge




Location: East Tennessee
Joined: 18 Sep 2015

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Tue 29 Mar, 2016 6:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as symmetry goes, it seems to be fairly symmetrical. If there's any, the left side may be a little more rounded where the right side is flat. Also, you can see in the picture the assymetry in the upsweep of the axe head. The tool is seriously pitted and even with that pitting, it's still substantially solid. I also found the rounded pieces at the eye unusual. Not exactly sure why they needed to be extra material there unless it was to provide extra surface area to assist in wedging the handle.
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