Dear Old Man:
My father was a craftsman, who loved to spend time relaxing in his shop after hours of surgery. He has several tools that we know have value, but we don’t know where to go or whom to talk to about selling them. Is there a museum that would find them of interest? Can you help?
Thank you for you letter and photo. The best auction house for tools is Martin J. Donnell y Auctions. Their information is on the internet.
In August 2004 at the Brown 25th International Tool Auction in Harrisburg, Pa., the original on which this reproduction is based, a one-of-a-kind, Sandusky presentation plow plane, sold for $114,400.
That price was a record for an American tool, and it’s fitting that this high-water mark was attained by a premier example of the plow plane.
While a smoother was the plane a 19th-century craftsman most often pulled from his tool chest, it was the plow plane that best represented the craftsman’s status. Journeymen owned simple plows in beech and boxwood with a few brass accents, while a master craftsman owned a rosewood or ebony plow with ivory details.
A plow plane performs a very simple task. It “plows” grooves of varying widths and varying depths at varying distances from the edges of boards. Grooves of different widths are accomplished through the use of irons of different widths.
Early in the 19th Century, plane makers redesigned this tool, changing it from something strictly utilitarian into something having the visual presence of a work of art.
Brass was substituted for the boxwood thumbscrews and depth stop on earlier examples. And instead of the beech or birch bodies common in the early American plows, these new plows were often made of rosewood or ebony, sometimes accented with ivory and even — in some cases — bits of silver.
The Fair Market Value for your Jim Leamy reproduction of the Sandusky plow plane is $1,250 to $2,500.
Ed Tuten is the executive secretary of the New England Appraisers Association. He can be reached at 901-218-7070 or 901-758-2659. His address is 6973 Crestridge Rd. Memphis TN 38119