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Project Anvil

by Fred Holder, Editor

Last month I announced the formation of a community project (that's the blacksmithing community worldwide) to gather and catalog information on anvils, anvil manufacturers, anvil markings, etc. This information was to include photos of anvils (front, side, and top view, plus close ups of any markings on the anvil, if you can't get a decent photo make a rubbing), information from reference books and magazines in the form of copies of the pages with the information plus copies of the front matter pages that identifies the source of the material.

I agreed to become a repository for such material and to compose articles on this material for publication in the pages of Blacksmith's Gazette so that all readers would be able to share the information. I further noted that if there became such an abundance of material that a book was indicated that I would make every effort to ensure that such a book was published so that all blacksmiths would be able to have the information available to them in future generations. I believe this is a worthwhile project, unless someone else has already done it or is in the process of doing so. At this time, I know of no such project. Therefore, I'm asking our readers to contribute to this project.

Here are a few of the things that I've currently turned up:

Source: Blacksmith's and Farriers' Tools at Shelburne Museum, by H. R. Bradley Smith:

Mark Fisher is credited with making the first anvil in the United States. Backed by Norris he formed Fisher & Norris in Trenton, New Jersey, which operated from 1847 until 1961. Fisher's first anvil was a cast iron body with a cast steel face. All Fisher and Norris anvils used the Eagle Trademark. Fisher and Norris is also credited with building the largest anvil in the world (it weighed 1600 pounds) for the Centennial Exposition of 1876.

A second United States manufacturer of anvils was Hay-Budden Manufacturing Co. (James Hay and Frederick C. Budden), Brooklyn, New York. They supposedly began operation in 1890 and went out of business in the era of 1920 to 1925. In 1905, Hay-Budden claimed that there were over 100,000 of their anvils in use. Hay-Budden advertising says: `Every Hay-Budden Anvil is made of the best American Wrought iron and faced with the best Crucible Cast Steel. Every genuine Hay-Budden Anvil is made by the latest improved methods. Top and bottom are each one solid piece and welded at the waist. The steel faces to these anvils are all put on in one solid piece: not two or more pieces, as is customary with most anvils ... we have produced a steel for the faces of our anvils which will take a harder temper and be less liable to chip than any on the market ... and the blacksmith who wants a strictly first-class anvil can make no mistake in purchasing a Hay-Budden."

Hay-Budden manufactured a number of different pattern anvils, making the farrier's anvil with and without the clip horn. They also made an Plowmaker's Anvil, a double Horn Anvil, a Hornless Anvil, a Sawmaker's Anvil, and Cooper's Steel faced Beck Irons.

The Columbian Hardware Company, Cleveland, Ohio also made anvils. In 1926 this company became The Columbian Vise and Mfg. Co. The company made ten sizes of anvils, ranging in size from 10 pounds to 800 pounds. They were very much like the Swedish anvils, being made from electric furnace cast steel. All of their anvils were cast, the face was machined and then hardened, the face was then ground after hardening. All of the Columbian anvils were marked with the letter "C". The company stopped making anvils in 1925.

Frank Morrison of Fitchburg, MA furnished some additional information on American anvil manufacturers. He says his information comes from the "Blacksmith & Wheelwright", a trade journal published by M. T. Richardson Co., New York City. His copies are from 1901:

Columbus Forge and Iron Co., West Frankfort Street, Columbus, Ohio manufactured anvils with the word "TRENTON" inside a diamond.

I think this is another lead: Do any of our subscribers have access to old copies of the "Blacksmith & Wheelwright" trade journal. If so, would you consider copying information from them that has to do with our Anvil Project? Please send the information to attention Fred Holder, Blacksmith's Gazette, 950 South Falcon Road, Camano Island, WA 98292.

Another batch of information came to us via Steven Smith who had gathered it from Page Thomas, Bear Anvil Blacksmith Shop, Fairview, Texas. Steven credited it all from Page Thomas and suggested that I contact him for permission to use it. I did so. Page asked that before I publish the information that I give him a chance to review it to ascertain whether the information came from him or from another source and to ensure its accuracy. Therefore, I'm only going to briefly summarize the information from Page Thomas:

Apparently, The Mousehole Forge in Sheffield, England was the first company that made anvils as an industry. Prior to The Mousehole Forge, anvils were made by local smiths, but not as an industry.

Peter Wright worked for Mousehole Forge and left to start his own anvil making business at Dudley, England. The Mousehole anvils were welded together from several pieces. Peter Wright conceived of making anvils in two parts and obtained a patent for the process in about 1850.

Another Company name crops up in this material: Wilkeyson Forge, Dudley, England, who apparently manufactured anvils after the Peter Wright method.

Also, a Swedish company: Soderfore Bruke Aktiebology, sold a one solid piece anvil in 1885. This sold in America as the Paragon brand anvil.

Another old journal crops up in this information: The American Blacksmith, which was published at least in 1914.

Ok, I've started the ball rolling, let's see some more input from the readers.

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This page was last updated on March 27, 1997.

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