Hammers are one of the most essential tools in any household or workshop. They come in all shapes and sizes, and are used for a variety of tasks. Whether you’re hanging a picture, driving a nail, or building a deck, there’s a hammer out there that’s perfect for the job.
This tool has been a crucial part of our history. The oldest hammers we’ve found date from around 3.3 million years ago. They were made out of stone, and were likely used for pounding or breaking things. Fast forward a few million years, and we see the first metal hammers being used by the ancient Egyptians.
These days, there are all sorts of different hammers available on the market. But if you’re looking for something special, you might want to consider an antique hammer.
In this article, you are going to learn how to identify an antique hammer. You’ll also find out how to value and buy one of these tools. So if you’re ready to start your journey into the world of antique hammers, read on!
Identifying an Antique Hammer
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when you’re trying to identify an antique hammer. First of all, it’s important to know that there are two main types of antique hammers: those that are collectible, and those that are usable.
The collectible hammers are the ones that are most valuable, and are often kept as display pieces. Usable antique hammers, on the other hand, can still be used for their original purpose: hammering.
That being said, there are a few things you can look for to help you identify an antique hammer:
- Look at the overall condition of the hammer. Is it in good shape, or is it rusty and damaged?
- Examine the head of the hammer. Is it made out of one piece of metal, or are there several pieces that have been welded together?
- If you can find any markings on the hammer, take a close look at them. These could include a manufacturer’s name or logo, as well as the country of origin.
- Take a look at the handle. Is it made out of wood, metal, or some other material? Usually, antique hammers have wooden handles.
- See if you can find any evidence of wear and tear. This could be anything from scratches to dents.
If you can identify all of these things, then you’re well on your way to being able to tell an antique hammer apart from a modern one.
However, it’s important to remember that there is no definitive list of characteristics that all antique hammers will have.
Types of Antique Hammers
A tool with such a long history has been made in all shapes and forms. Some are still in use to this day, while others have been deprecated. Here are some of the most common types of antique hammers:
- Ball peen hammer: This type of hammer has a rounded head, and is used for shaping metal.
- Blacksmith’s hammer: As you might expect, this hammer was originally used by blacksmiths. It has a large, flat head that is perfect for pounding hot metal.
- Carpenter’s hammer: This is probably the most common type of hammer, and is still in use today. It has a claw on one side that can be used for pulling nails out of wood.
- Gavel: A gavel is a small hammer that is used by judges in courtrooms.
- Mallet: A mallet is a large, heavy hammer that is used for smashing things. It is also sometimes used as a gavel. There are many sub-types of mallet, such as carpenter’s, caulking, and hide-faced.
- Sledgehammer: This is another type of heavy hammer that is used for breaking things. It has a long handle that allows for more leverage.
- Tack hammer: This hammer has a small, flat head, and is used for driving tacks into wood.
- Slater: A slater is a type of hammer that was used by roofers. It has a long, thin head that is perfect for driving nails into slate.
- Boxmaker: A boxmaker hammer has a long, thin handle and a small head. It was originally used for making wooden boxes.
- Saddler’s: A saddler’s hammer has a long, thin handle and a small head. It was originally used for making leather saddles.
- Upholsterer’s: An upholsterer’s hammer has a long, thin handle and a small head. It was originally used for driving nails into upholstery.
- Coach Framing: A coach framing hammer has a long handle and a small head. It was originally used for putting frames together on coaches.
Editor’s note: This is a list of the most common types of antique hammers, but there are many more out there.
Evaluating an Antique Hammer
The value of an antique hammer depends on a few different factors. Some of these can be quite hard to evaluate, especially since hammers, unlike other antique tools, have not been widely collected.
Here are some things you should keep in mind when evaluating an antique hammer:
- The age of the hammer
- The materials of the hammer
- The condition of the hammer
- The rarity of the hammer
- The type of hammer
- The provenance of the hammer (if any)
Let’s check these more in-depth.
The Hammer’s Age
The most important factor is the age of the tool. Generally speaking, the older the hammer is, the more valuable it will be. This is because antique hammers are becoming more and more rare as time goes on. The older ones are more likely to break down and disappear from the market, which makes them more valuable. Supply and demand is the key here.
The Materials it is Made of
The second thing you need to do is figure out what the hammer is made out of. This will have a big impact on the value. For example, a steel hammer is going to be worth more than one made out of iron.
The Hammer’s Condition
If the hammer is in good condition, it will be worth more than one that is in poor condition. This is because it is less likely to need repairs, and it will be able to be used for its intended purpose for longer. Unfortunately, any act of repair will require replacing the broken part, making your hammer less valuable.
The Hammer’s Rarity
If there are not many of that type of hammer in existence, it will be worth more than one that is more common. This is because it is less likely that another one will come up for sale any time soon, making it a rare find. Of course, this is only the case if the other factors are equal.
The Hammer’s Craftsmanship
If the hammer was made by a skilled craftsman, it will be worth more than one that was made by an amateur. This is because it is more likely to be of higher quality, and to last longer.
Does the hammer come from a reputable maker? Or is it a mystery hammer with no known origin? If it is the latter, then it will be harder to sell, and thus worth less.
The Hammer’s Provenance
If you can track down who owned the hammer and where it came from, that will add to its value. This is because it gives the hammer a history, and makes it more interesting to collectors.
There are antique hammers for all pockets. You can find an entire lot for $15 like this one, or a single one for $4,200 like this one. So, regardless of your budget, you will be able to buy an antique hammer.
Buying an Antique Hammer
Now that you know what to look for in an antique hammer, you are ready to start shopping!
Here are a few tips on how to find the perfect one:
First, it is important to decide what type of hammer you want. Do you want one for display, or are you actually looking to use it? Realistically, if the latter is true, you should probably stick to a more modern one.
If you are looking for an antique hammer to actually use, then you will want to make sure that it is still functional. This means that it should not be too rusted, and that the handle is not cracked or broken.
You should also make sure that you are buying from a reputable source. This way, you can be sure that you are getting a quality product, and not a fake.
Finally, make sure that you are aware of the risks involved in buying an antique hammer. These include things like lead poisoning (if the paint is chipped), as well as the possibility of it being stolen.
There are 2 main avenues where you can buy antique hammers: offline and online.
Buying Hammers Offline
There are a few different places where you can buy antique hammers offline. These include:
- Auction houses—This is probably the most common place to find antique hammers. Here, you can find a wide variety of options, and you can also get them for a good price if you know how to bid.
- Antique stores—These are great places to find rare and interesting items, but they are usually quite expensive. On the other hand, you’ll know you’re buying a quality product.
- Flea markets—These are great places to find a wide variety of items, including antique hammers. However, you need to be careful as there are a lot of fake products out there.
- Yard sales—This is a great place to find cheap items, but you will have to sift through a lot of junk to find a good hammer. The vast majority of hammers you’ll find here will most likely be duds.
Buying Hammers Online
If you want to buy an antique hammer online, there are a few different things that you need to keep in mind.
- The seller’s reputation—This is probably the most important thing to consider when buying anything online. Make sure that you are buying from a reputable source, such as an auction house or an antique store.
- The shipping costs—When buying online, you need to factor in the cost of shipping. This can sometimes be quite expensive, depending on the size and weight of the hammer.
- The return policy—When buying online, you should always make sure that there is a return policy in place. This way, if you are not happy with the product, you can send it back.
There are a few websites you can buy from. The best ones are:
- eBay—You can’t go wrong with eBay when looking for anything antique. Of course, you must always be careful and avoid buying from no-name sellers. It’s best to go with someone who has at least some reviews. But eBay has a decent buyer protection policy, so it’s not the end of the world if your purchase ends up bombing.
- Etsy—Etsy is a great place to find unique and interesting items. However, it’s important to remember that most of the sellers on Etsy are not professional antique dealers. This means that you need to be extra careful when making your purchase.
- Jim Bode tools—If you’re looking for a website that specializes in selling vintage tools, then this one’s for you. They have a wide variety of options, and they are a reputable source. The prices are a tad higher than in other places, but it’s well worth it.
Can I Use Antique Hammers?
If the hammer is in good condition, then yes, you can use it. However, if it is too rusted or the handle is broken, then it’s best to just use it as a decoration.
We recommend against using antique hammers. You can just buy new tools that are more efficient and easier to use. Why go through the efforts of using an old tool that might break at a moment’s notice?
How Should I Store Antique Hammers?
If you want to store your antique hammer, make sure that you do it in a cool and dry place. You should also oil the metal parts to prevent rusting.
What is the Best Way to Clean an Antique Hammer?
The best way to clean an antique hammer is to use a soft cloth and some soapy water. Avoid using harsh chemicals, as this can damage the metal.
Once you’re done cleaning it, make sure that you dry it completely to prevent rusting.
If rust is your issue, then the solution is quite simple. Soak the hammer’s head in white vinegar and let it sit in there for 24 hours. After that, scrub the rust off with a wire brush.
If the vinegar doesn’t work, then you can try using WD-40. Just spray it on and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing the rust off.
Where Can I Find More Information on Antique Hammers?
There are plenty of resources all over the internet where you can learn more about antique hammers, here are the best ones:
- Garagejournal—This forum has an entire section dedicated to vintage tools. And specifically, this thread will open your eyes to the fantastic world of antique hammers. It’s been ongoing for 10 years as a testament to its
- DATAMP—The Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents is a great place to start if you want to learn more about antique hammers. It has a list of manufacturers, as well as information on when they were in business. Fundamental website for anyone interested in knowing more about antique hammers.
- A Price Guide to Antique Tools—This is a great reference book if you want to know more about the value of antique tools. It has been around for almost 40 years, so it’s definitely a trusted resource.