Getting Collectible Axes

Edge tools are among the earliest tool forms, with surviving primitive axes dated to 8000 B.C.. Early axes were produced by “wrapping” the red hot iron around a questionnaire, yielding a person’s eye of the axe. The steel bit, introduced in the 18th century, was laid into the fold at the front and hammered into an edge. The side opposite the bit was later extended in to a poll, for better balance and to provide a hammering surface.

The handles took on many different shapes, some indicative or origin, others associated with function. The size of the handle had more related to the arc of the swing which was required. Felling axes took the full swing and therefore needed the longest handles. Early axes have their handles fitted through a person’s eye from the utmost effective down and the handles remain in place by locking into the taper of a person’s eye, to allow them to be removed for sharpening.

Later axes, however, have their handles fit through a person’s eye from underneath up, and have a wedge driven in from the top. This permanently locks the handle to the axe and was much preferred by American woodsmen. Many axes found today had been discarded because the handle was split or broken off. Generally they can be bought at a portion of these value and, with another handle, could be restored to their original condition. Most axe collectors have an inventory of older flea-market handles which they use with this restoration. Like plane blades, axe handles may have been replaced 2 or 3 times through the life of the tool. As long as the handle is “proper,” meaning, the best shape and length for its function, it won’t detract very much from its value.

Pricing of antique axes runs the whole gamut from several dollars to many hundred. Types of well-made axes would range from the Plumb, White, Kelly, Viking axes for sale  Miller and numerous others. Beyond we were holding axes of sometimes lesser quality, but developed to a cost, and sold by the thousands. Exceptional examples might include handmade axes, possibly from the area blacksmith, or from a factory that specialized in the handmade article, no matter price.

There are many forms of axes on the market such as:


This axe is recognized as the workhorse of the axe family. It is a simple design, varying from a 2 ½ lb. head employed by campers to the 4 ½ to 7 lb. head employed for forest work. You can find heads used in lumbermen’s competition which are around 12lbs.. With the advent of the two-man crosscut saw, and later the energy chain saw, tree no longer are taken down by axes. The axe is more a power tool for clearing branches off the downed tree, and splitting firewood.


Double bit axes also have straight handles, unlike every other modern axe. Nearly all axe handles are hickory. Hickory has both strength and spring, and was found very early to be the best for axe handles. Starting in the late 1800’s numerous axe manufactures adopted intricate logos which were embossed or etched on the head of the axe. Almost 200 different styles have been identified currently and these also have become an appealing collectible.


The broad axe is much less common as the felling axe, and is larger. It’s purpose was to square up logs into beams. It used a much shorter swing that the felling axe, therefore required a much shorter handle. The identifying feature of many of these axes could be the chisel edge, that allowed the trunk side of the axe to be dead flat. Because of the, it posed a problem of clearance for the hands. To keep the hands from being scraped, the handle was canted or swayed away from the flat plane of the axe. Here is the feature that will often be looked for when buying a wide axe. If the edge is chisel-sharpened, then a handle ought to be swayed. Much like the felling axe, the broad axe heads have many different patterns, mostly a result of geographical preference.


The goose wing axe is one of the very most artistic looking tools on the market, and it requires it’s name from its resemblance to the wing of a goose in flight. It functions exactly as the chisel-edged broad axe, except that the American version has got the handle socket more heavily bent or canted up from the plane of the blade. These axes are large and difficult to forge. Many show cracks and repairs and a genuine handle is rare. Signed pieces, particularly by American makers, mostly Pennsylvania Dutch, are significantly more valuable. Also worth addressing could be the difference in value between American and European axes, the American ones being worth considerably more. A couple of well-known 19th century American makers whose names appear imprinted on axes are Stohler, Stahler, Sener, Rohrbach, Addams, and L.& I.J. White.

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