Leonard Bailey’s Last Vertical Post?

Stanley Model Shop Vertical Post Plane Title Image

Leonard Bailey appears to have begun experimenting with  and manufacturing vertical post planes sometime in 1860. These planes are called “vertical post” planes because of the two vertically positioned threaded rods located behind the rocking frog. The rocking frog is held in place by a pin that is inserted through the sidewalls of the plane and the frog.  As shown in the schematic drawing ( See Figure 1), the first threaded rod is screwed through a threaded hole in the frog casting. As this short threaded rod is tightened it applies pressure to a flat leaf spring that rests in two grooves cast into the bed of the plane. Tightening this screw against the leaf spring creates back pressure on the frog.  The second threaded rod fits through an open collar on the rear of the frog casting and is screwed into a threaded hole in the plane’s bed.

Bailey Vertical Post Schematic Drawing

Figure 1. Schematic Drawing of Bailey’s Vertical Post Plane. Drawing by John G. Wells

The cutting iron is adjusted by pivoting the frog and cutting iron together around an axis parallel to the mouth of the plane with the use of this threaded rod and the large brass adjusting screw. The large brass adjusting screw is threaded onto the second rod.  When turned, the brass adjusting screw changes the angle of the rocking frog and thus moves the cutting iron in our out of the mouth of the plane.  Figure 2 is an image of the rocking frog and cutter adjustment mechanism on a Bailey vertical post plane. The large brass adjusting screw clearly identifies Bailey as the maker, his location in Boston and his August 7th, 1855 and August 31, 1858 patent dates (See Figure 2 and Figure 10).

Bailey Vertical Post Plane Showing the Cutting Iron Adjustment Mechanism

Figure 2. Bailey Vertical Post Plane Showing the Cutting Iron Adjustment Mechanism

On the production versions of these vertical post planes, both the rear tote and front knob  are attached in the same way.  They are slipped over a threaded rod that is screwed into the plane bed and they are held in place by a cylindrical brass barrel nut inserted into  a shouldered hole in the rosewood front knob or rear tote (See Figure 3) .

Production Version of the Front Knob from a Vertical Post Plane on the Left, Model Shop Version on the Right

Figure 3. Production Version of the Front Knob from a Vertical Post Plane on the Left, Model Shop Version on the Right

At the time it was introduced, the Bailey vertical post plane was a quantum step forward in plane design. Vertical post planes are lighter, more responsive, and less expensive to make than the split frame planes Bailey was producing previously. They utilize the same basic principles used on the split frame plane, but now the plane body is a single casting and the pivoting frog fits inside the body. This significant design change required less precision in manufacturing, and made it possible for less skilled workers to assemble the planes. The vertical post plane has all of the visual and construction characteristics of the modern carpenter’s plane except for Bailey’s third and most effective cutter adjustment mechanism for which he received a patent on August 6th, 1867. After Bailey was granted this patent, he appears to have quickly halted production of his vertical post planes.

Bailey Vertical Post Lever Caps. Early Version on the Left, Later Version on the Right with the Banjo Spring

Figure 4. Bailey Vertical Post Lever Caps. Early Version on the Left, Later Version on the Right with the Banjo Spring

Early versions of the vertical post planes were made with a cam lock lever cap without a spring and were fitted with a tapered double iron, usually by Moulson (Cutting irons from other manufacturers are seen on Bailey’s vertical post planes).  In later years Bailey added a “banjo spring” to the back side of the lever cap on his vertical post planes.  The spring rests in a recess in the back of the lever cap and is held in place by a single rivet (See Figure 4). In 1867 or 1868, when Bailey began producing planes with his third cutting iron adjustment mechanism and patented thin parallel irons based on his August 6th, 1867 patent (i.e. Boston Bailey Type 1 Planes), he still had unfinished castings and parts for vertical post planes that he wanted to sell and decided to offer them with his new patented thin parallel irons. So he made up the remaining castings for his vertical post planes with a smaller mouth opening suitable for the thin parallel irons.  When he machined the castings for these planes he cut the mouth opening slightly smaller and installed the frog a little further forward so the thin irons fit in the planes leaving an appropriately tight mouth opening. A traditional tapered iron is too thick to fit though the mouth opening in these planes (See Figures 5).

Early Version of Bailey's Vertical Post Plane on the Left with a Wider Mouth to Accomodate a Thick Tapered iron, Later Version on the Right with a Narrow mouth To Accomodate a Thin Parallel Iron

Figure 5. Early Version of Bailey’s Vertical Post Plane on the Left with a Wider Mouth to Accommodate a Thick Tapered iron, Later Version on the Right with a Narrow mouth To Accommodate a Thin Parallel Iron. Also Note the Difference in the “Ears”  of the Frog Between the Early and Late Models.

He used lever caps with banjo springs on a few of these planes when he ran short of lever caps without springs. Although rare, a fair number of these vertical post planes with the smaller mouth and Bailey’s thin parallel cutter have survived.  Bailey offered the vertical post plane is sizes No. 1 through No. 8. The No. 1 size is 5½ inches in length and has a 1¼ inch wide cutting iron (See Figure 6) and the No. 8 size is 24 inches long with a 2 and 5/8ths inch wide cutting iron.

No. 1 Size Vertical Post Plane

Figure 6. No. 1 Size Vertical Post Plane only 5½ Inches Long

An example of a vertical post No. 5 size jack plane in virtually unused condition with a banjo spring lever cap is shown in Figure 7.   Interestingly, no example of a No. 2 sized, 7 inch long vertical post plane has to date been found.

No. 5 Size Bailey Vertical Post Jack Plane

Figure 7. A No. 5 Size Bailey Vertical Post Jack Plane

When Bailey sold his business to the Stanley Rule & Level Company in 1869, his vertical post planes had been replaced by his planes with his patented adjuster that became the industry standard.  But, his existing stock of vertical post planes was also part of the deal.  Stanley appears to have sold off the remaining vertical post planes shortly after acquiring Bailey’s business.  However, an intriguing Bailey #3 size vertical post plane that is slightly different  from the earlier versions of the Bailey vertical post planes came to light in 2011. It apparently resided in the Stanley Model Shop for most of its life and is in unused condition.[1]  The Model Shop number “368” is painted on the toe of the plane in two spots.  Like Bailey’s earlier production models of his No. 3 size vertical post plane, this one is 8 7/8ths inches long, 2 1/8th inches wide and has 1¾ inch wide thick tapered cutter.  Because of the thick tapered cutter, it also has the wider mouth seen on the early versions of Bailey’s vertical post planes. Figure 8 shows this plane along side a production version of Bailey’s No. 3 size vertical post plane.

No.3 Size Model Shop Vertical Post Plane in the Foreground, Production no. 3 Size Vertical Post Plane in the Background

Figure 8. No.3 Size Model Shop Vertical Post Plane in the Foreground, Production No. 3 Size Vertical Post Plane in the Background

While clearly a Bailey vertical post plane, this “model shop” version differs from the usual Bailey vertical post planes in several respects (See Figure 9 below):

  1. The lever cap is a later version with a square spring.
  2. The rear tote is a slightly different shape and is more characteristic of the rear totes seen on the Bailey planes made at Stanley starting in about 1874.
  3. The front knob is a little taller and lacks the bead at its base that is present on earlier version of the vertical post planes.
  4. The front knob is attached with a ¼ inch diameter flat head machine screw as opposed to the standard version of the Bailey vertical post plane where the front knob is held in place with a brass barrel nut screwed onto a 3/16th inch diameter threaded rod.(See Figure 3 above) Using the larger diameter flat head machine screw would have required drilling and tapping a larger hole in the low post on the toe of the plane bed.
  5. The cutting iron is unmarked and is a thick tapered cutting iron. The cap iron is also unmarked.
  6. And probably most interestingly, the large brass cutting iron adjusting screw is stamped L. BAILEY & CO., BOSTON, which to my knowledge, has not been seen on any other vertical post planes (See Figure 10).
Stanley Model Shop No. 3 Size Vertical Post Plane Disassembled

Figure 9. Stanley Model Shop No. 3 Size Vertical Post Plane Disassembled

This unique stamp on the cutting iron adjusting knob suggests that the plane was made by Bailey in Boston just prior to the sale of his plane business to Stanley.  But the front knob with its flat head screw, the rear tote,  and the later style lever cap suggest that this plane was possibly  assembled by Leonard Bailey after he joined Stanley Rule & Level Company in 1869. Bailey constantly strove to improve his planes not only in terms of their function, but also in terms of ease of manufacture, so this may be what he had in mind with  this vertical post plane. It’s very conceivable that he brought this plane with him when he went to work for Stanley.

Vertical Post Brass Cutting Iron Adjusting Nuts, Production Model on the Left, Model Shop Version on the Right

Figure 10. Vertical Post Brass Cutting Iron Adjusting Nuts, Production Model on the Left, Model Shop Version on the Right

Maybe he hoped that Stanley might want to continue production of his vertical post planes. Or was this plane made at a later date by a workman at Stanley after Bailey left the employ of the Stanley rule & Level Company in 1874? Could Stanley have been considering re-introducing the Bailey vertical post plane at some point? All of these are possibilities, but without more information one can only speculate on the story behind this mysterious and unique vertical post plane from the Stanley Model Shop. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

By Paul Van Pernis

If your interested in more information about Leonard Bailey, an in-depth book co-authored by John G. Wells and Paul Van Pernis about Leonard Bailey and his woodworking planes will be released in a few months.

[1] When this plane was “liberated” from the Stanley Model Shop is not known, but the plane came to auction in the 38th International Antique Tool Auction on April 2, 2011, as lot #296.

The 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting – Put It On Your Calendar!

Early Image of the Mills at Lowell, MA

It’s time to start thinking about the 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting Wednesday, May 15th thru Saturday, May 18th, 2019!  We will be based at the Westford Regency Hotel in Westford, Massachusetts (  Room rates at the hotel are $125/night.  Come and join us for another great meeting full of great activities and great people.

Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center

Figure 1. The Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center in Westford, MA

On Thursday we’ll visit the Lowell National Historic Park (  The park is the site of the Boott Mills which were part of an extensive group of cotton mills built along an extensive series of canals town. The Boott Cotton Mills complex is the most intact and houses the Boott Cotton Mills Museum.  The History of Lowell is closely tied to its location along the Pawtucket Falls of the Merrimack River which provided water power for the factories that formed the basis of the city’s economy for a century. The city of Lowell was started in the 1820s as a money-making venture and social project referred to as “The Lowell Experiment”, and quickly became the United States’ largest textile center.

Boot Cotton Mill, Lowell, MA

Figure 2. The Boott Cotton Mill

The Merrimack Manufacturing Company opened a mill by Pawtucket Falls, that began weaving cotton in 1823. Within two years a need for more mills and machinery became evident, and a series of new canals were dug, allowing for even more manufacturing plants. With a growing population and booming economy, Lowell was named after Francis Cabot Lowell, and was officially chartered on March 1, 1826. By 1850, Lowell’s population was 33,000, making it the second largest city in Massachusetts and America’s largest industrial center. The 5.6-mile-long canal system produced 10,000 horsepower, to ten corporations with a total of forty mills. Ten thousand workers used an equal number of looms fed by 320,000 spindles. The mills were producing 50,000 miles of cloth annually.

Interior of the Boott Cotton Mill

Figure 2. Interior of the Boott Cotton Mill

Other industries developed in Lowell as well: The Lowell Machine Shop as well as other machines shops served the large number of weaving mills. Moxie which was created around 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson in Lowell, Massachusetts. originated as a patent medicine called “Moxie Nerve Food”. He claimed Moxie was especially effective against, “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia.”. In 1880, Lowell became the first city in America to have telephone numbers.

Uriah A. Boyden installed his first turbine in the Appleton Mill in Lowell in 1844. It was a major improvement over the old-fashioned waterwheel. The turbine was improved at Lowell again shortly thereafter by Englishman James B. Francis. Francis had begun his career in Lowell working under George Washington Whistler, the father of painter James Abbott McNeil Whistler, and his improved turbine, known as the Francis Turbine, is still used with few changes today. Francis also designed the Francis Gate, a flood control mechanism that provides a means of sealing the canal system off from the Merrimack River, and completed the canal system by adding the Northern Canal and Moody Street Feeder, both designed to improve efficiency to the entire system. We’ll get a first-hand look at the canal system and the turbines on a narrated boat tour of the canals.

Mill Worker's Tenements, Lowell, MA

Figure 3. The Mill Worker’s Tenement Buildings in Lowell, MA

The Lowell Mill Girls were young female workers who came to work in industrial corporations in Lowell, Massachusetts, during the Industrial Revolution in the United States. The workers initially recruited by the corporations were daughters of propertied New England farmers, typically between the ages of 15 and 35. By 1840, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the textile mills had recruited over 8,000 women, who came to make up nearly three-quarters of the mill workforce.  While their wages were only half of what men were paid, many were able to attain economic independence for the first time, free from controlling fathers and husbands. As a result, while factory life would soon come to be experienced as oppressive, it enabled these women to challenge the then existing gender stereotypes. As the nature of the new “factory system” became clear, the Lowell Mill Girls joined the American labor movement.  In 1845, after a number of protests and strikes, many of the mill girls came together to form the first union of working women in the United States, the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association. The Association adopted a newspaper called the “Voice of Industry“, in which workers published sharp critiques of the new industrialism. The “Voice” stood in sharp contrast to other literary magazines published by female operatives, such as the “Lowell Offering“, which painted a much more sanguine picture of life in the mills. We’ll spend time at the Boott Mill, tour the canal system by canal boat, and visit the tenement houses where the Lowell Mill Girls lived.

The New England Quilt Museum

Figure 4. The New England Quilt Museum

We’ll also take the time to visit the New England Quilt Museum ( which is less than a block from the Boot Mill site. The New England Quilt Museum, founded in 1987, is the only museum in the Northeast solely dedicated to the art and craft of quilting. Their collections are strong in 19th century quilts, with a geographic focus on New England and the museum staff are planning a special display of their early quilts just for our group.

The New England Quilt Museum

Figure 5. The New England Quilt Museum

On Friday, we’re going to feature a wide-ranging series of hands on workshops, lectures, and demonstrations.   You’ll have a chance to try your hand at blacksmithing, rigid heddle loom weaving, cross stitching, 19th century candy making, and decorative plaster molding.  We’ll have a demonstration on bookbinding. More workshops and hands on activities are in the works so stay tuned.  You can take a tour of the Starrett factory and museum in nearby Athol, Massachusetts. You’ll get to see some very early Native American tools from the extensive collection at the Peabody Institute of Archeology ( and be able to try your hand at flint knapping. . You’ll hear about Civil War Soldier’s quilts.  We’ll be entertained at our banquet by Doctor and Doctor Noah (yes there are two) and their “Amazing Mechanical Magic Lantern Astronomic Slide Show.” Both the Fiber Interest Group and the Blacksmith’s Interest Group are helping to put together this meeting.

Bob Roemer's Forge

Figure 6. Interior of the Moses Wilder Blacksmith Shop Where the Blacksmithing Workshops Will Be Held

And of course, we’ll enjoy tailgating, our annual Whatsit’s session, the ice cream social, displays, and tool trading as well as the Silent Auction, our Annual Meeting, and Banquet. The theme for the displays is Fiber Arts Tools and Machine Tools.  So, start thinking about a display. They’re a great way to share your knowledge and some of your tools with the rest of us. The more displays the better! Also, don’t forget the Silent Auction.  Items donated by members help support EAIA’s annual budget.  Share your creative talents with the rest of us and bring an item or two for the auction.

Bill and Alyssa Rainford and Eileen and Paul Van Pernis are co-hosts for this meeting. Put the dates, May 15th thru May 18th on your calendar. Think about your display, and an item or two to donate to the Silent Auction.  Bring a friend or your family and come enjoy a great 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting in Massachusetts. Watch for more information about the 2019 Annual Meeting in Shavings and on the EAIA web site (

By Paul Van Pernis

EAIA’s BIG Sponsors Regional Meeting

The Blacksmith Interest Group (BIG) of EAIA held a regional meeting at the reconstructed Moses Wilder Blacksmith shop in Bolton, Massachusetts on July 28th.

The purpose of the meeting was to provide hands-on demonstrations and give participants an opportunity to try basic blacksmithing using coal forges. There were 30 participants which was the number that the shop and grounds could reasonably accommodate. The event lasted the entire day with demonstrations and presentations in the morning, followed by lunch and an afternoon of opportunity for participant forging with coaching from master smiths at one of the four available blacksmithing stations (forge, post vise, anvil and tools). The day ended with an hour or more of participants’ stories and networking about blacksmithing. The participants who were not already members were introduced to EAIA; several became members as a result.

The meeting started with a brief introduction to EAIA and the Moses Wilder blacksmith shop, the original of which was moved to Old Sturbridge Village in 1957 and an accurate reproduction built in the early 2000’s by the Roemers on the original foundation at their home.

Bob welcomes the participants to the event and provides introductory comments. (Photo – Marc Sitkin)

Derek Heidemann, Coordinator of Historic Trades at Old Sturbridge Village, demonstrated the forging of blacksmith’s tongs from a single piece of mild steel, first by forging jaws at either end, then diagonally slitting the piece to form the reins, and finally punching and riveting the hinge joint. Rob Lyon, Derek’s former mentor, was the “striker” for the project, an interesting reversal of roles.

Derek Heidemann holds a top swage while Rob Lyon, his striker, uses a sledge hammer to drive it to form one of the jaws of the tongs. (photo – Marc Sitkin)


Derek holds the slitting chisel while Rob Lyons drives the chisel through, splitting the bar into the two sides of a pair of tongs.


The audience watches Derek and Rob with rapt attention.


Derek holds up the partially split bar which shortly became the two pieces of the tongs.


The final forged and pinned tongs. They will be smoothed out further before use.

Dirk Underwood, Blacksmith and edge tool maker, demonstrated blade making from large coil springs. Dirk is well known in the area for his knives made from a wide range of materials and processes including lamination of chainsaw chain and ball bearing races!

Dirk at his portable forge on the lawn starting to form a knife blade from the alloy steel of a very large diameter industrial coil spring.


The blade undergoing the initial forging. (Photo – Marc Sitkin)


The final forged blade. The blade will be then ground, polished, and fitted with a handle. (Photo – Marc Sitkin)

Rob Lyon, the former Master Blacksmith at Old Sturbridge Village discussed early iron production from bog iron, a process that was very important to the trade and economy of New England in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Rob explains how to differentiate steel and wrought iron. Each sample was partially cut through with a hacksaw. When they were broken at the saw kerf, the wrought iron (left hand) showed a very fibrous structure while the steel (right hand) appeared uniform and somewhat crystalline.  Pieces of bog iron are on the table.

Tom Kelleher, Historian and Curator of Mechanical Arts at Old Sturbridge Village, discussed the economic aspects of early blacksmithing using early account books and journals to illustrate the discussion. His talk was particularly interesting as it highlighted the use of “virtual money” to value transactions either in English pounds or American dollars even though very little actual cash changed hands. The talk also underscored the importance of bartering goods and services as well as the wide range of tasks of the typical rural blacksmith, often done in between tending for his farm which was often his primary source of food and income.

Tom explains the economics and financial transaction of 18th Century and early 19th Century blacksmiths, augmenting his talk with copies of day books and account books,

Bob & Max Roemer, owners of the reconstructed shop, demonstrated the use of a restored antique Champion tire and axle upsetter to shorten the circumference of an iron wagon tires which had come loose from road wear and/or shrinkage of the wooden parts of the wheels.

The behemoth Champion No. 1 tire shrinker and axle upsetter weighing in at about 870 lbs.! The hand wheel drives a large gear attached to an eccentric which drives two jaws with an enormous mechanical advantage.


A sample piece of wrought iron being upset as the two jaws are driven together by hand wheel, gears and the eccentric. The heated region is hammered to prevent buckling.

The meeting was considered a success at several levels. EAIA’s Blacksmith Interest Group looks forward to having a similar event for the 2019 EAIA Annual Meeting in Lowell, Massachusetts (May 16 – 18, 2019).  Please come join us, either as one interested in trying your hand at the forge or as a presenter/demonstrator.

Little-Known Anvil Makers

By Clayton Ray

Postman’s 1998 book, Anvils in America, is a landmark in the study of American anvils. He documented all of the major makers and many minor ones. It would, however, be too much to expect that he could have exhausted the subject, but not too much to suspect that some among the varied membership of EAIA might have knowledge of obscure brands, from advertising, brochures, catalogs, or other scattered contemporary sources. A few examples may serve to clarify the subject. All are late nineteenth or early twentieth century cast anvils.

Postman, page 140, recorded one “GEM” anvil but found no information on the maker. It is a cast iron anvil, unusual for its lugs for anchoring it, otherwise known almost exclusively on Fisher anvils.  My example is shown below.

Detail of “GEM” anvil with scale

Postman, pages 197-203, documented the American Star anvil, made in Trenton, NJ, the outstanding feature of which is its patented so-called “tempering cavity,” a cylindrical hole extending from the bottom well into the core of the anvil. The logo is a 5-pointed star centered on its right side.

Star was a popular logo and name of a wide variety of manufactured products, including one or more little-known anvils in addition to the American Star. Among these is the Swedish North Star brand, with a 5-pointed star. I have two anvils of about 100 lbs. each with embossed stars, about 2.5 inches in diameter, on the right side. These stars are unusual in being 6-pointed instead of the common 5-pointed stars. The only other mark is the weight on the front foot.

6-pointed star anvil. Although not very clear, the top scale on the ruler is in inches.


I have two anvils, one 8 lbs. and one 58 lbs., marked “U.S.A.” in large embossed letters on the right side. The letters are set in a recessed rectangle with rounded corners. They have hardy holes, but no pritchel holes.

Overall view of the anvil marked “U.S.A.”. Again. the top scale on the ruler is in inches.


Detail of the “U.S.A.” cast in the anvil.


Last, and to me most interesting, is an 18-lb. bench anvil, with no name, but with “chilled semi steel” in embossed letters along the right side near the bottom. Most unusual are swales on the underside, four linear crosswise and four circular, one at each corner.



18 lb. anvil with “CHILLED SEMI-STEEL” embossed on foot.


Detail of 18-lb anvil with embossed “CHILLED SEMI-STEEL” and swales evident on the underside.

Your help is needed in filling out information on these and many other obscure makers of U.S. anvils.

Clayton Ray

EAIA’s 85th Anniversary Annual Meeting Was A Great One!

Bling from the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

After over a week of heavy rain, the skies began to clear on Wednesday morning May 23rd in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania just in time for the tailgating activities in the Comfort Suites University Hotel parking lot, signaling the start of EAIA’s 85th anniversary Annual Meeting. It didn’t take long for the rather vigorous tool sales to begin.

Pat Lasswell ponders an early plow plane while Jane Rees and Tom Elliott watch, 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Pat Lasswell ponders an early plow plane while Jane Rees and Tom Elliott watch during the tailgating at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Everything from a spinning wheel, to planes, to hammers, to books, and even an early 5 key clarinet found new homes before the day was over.

Pam and Ron Howard are pleased to see Cory Warner reach for his wallet, 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting tailgating

Pam and Ron Howard are pleased to see Cory Warner reach for his wallet during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting tailgating

The registration table was busy as 158 people signed in for the meeting including 21 first time attendees.  Registrants were thrilled to find the complimentary gifts in their registration packets, particularly the 11th in the series of commemorative medallions designed by EAIA member Tom Elliott and the beautiful limited edition “libella” produced specifically for this meeting by Lee Valley Tools.[1]  EAIA Board member Robin Lee’s generosity made sure that EAIA’s 85th anniversary Annual Meeting will be memorialized in grand style.

A first look at the Bethlehem Steel Stacks during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

A first look at the Bethlehem Steel Stacks during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Thursday morning the sun was out and the EAIA members in attendance left the hotel for a very busy day with tours of the Bethlehem Steel Works, the Moravian Museum, the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts and lunch in the Colonial Industrial Quarter. You can check all of these interesting sites out at,

Bethlehem Steel Stacks

The Bethlehem Steel Stacks

1848 fire engine named "Perseverance" at the Moravian Museum in Bethlehem, PA

1848 fire engine named “Perseverance” at the Moravian Museum in Bethlehem, PA

Lunch at the Luckebach Mill in the Colonial Industrial Quarter in Bethlehem, PA, 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Lunch at the Luckenbach Mill in the Colonial Industrial Quarter in Bethlehem, PA, during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

It was a day filled with history, learning, new knowledge and camaraderie.  The Fiber Arts Interest Group met back at the hotel in the late afternoon for a presentation on “rug punching” presented by Becky Densmore.

The Fiber Interest Group meeting at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

The Fiber Interest Group meeting at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Members of this group also displayed their project from last year at Old Sturbridge Village, as well as other works in progress, and made plans for activities at the 2019 Annual Meeting.

Nell Semel, Eileen Van Pernis and Alice Roemer show off their "Cricket" covers they completed from the 2017 EAIA meeting at Old Sturbridge Village

Nell Semel, Eileen Van Pernis and Alice Roemer show off the “Cricket” covers they completed from the 2017 EAIA meeting at Old Sturbridge Village

Dianne Carpenter made sure that anyone who wanted some wonderful raw wool sheared from her own sheep went home with all they needed.

Dianne Carpenter and Nell Semel at the 2018 Fiber Interest Group gathering at the 2018 EAIA annual Meeting

Dianne Carpenter made sure anyone who wanted some got raw wool sheared from her own sheep to take home!

We convened after dinner at the National Museum of Industrial History just a few blocks from our hotel for the Ice Cream Social and “Whatsit’s” session.  While enjoying Moravian cake, Tandy cake and Shoofly pie as well as ice cream with all the toppings, EAIA member Bob Muhlbauer entertained us with his singing while accompanying himself on his Martin guitar (he’s really good!).

EAIA Member Bob Muhlbauer entertains EAIA members at the ice Cream Social during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

EAIA Member Bob Muhlbauer entertains EAIA members at the ice Cream Social during the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting singing and playing his Martin Guitar

The museum had been closed to the public for our event and members had the opportunity to view the exhibits at their leisure. This relatively new Smithsonian affiliated museum (see  is located in a restored building on the Bethlehem Steel grounds and is well worth a visit if you’re in the Bethlehem area.

National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem, PA

National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem, PA

Terry Page and his crew once again did a fine job with the interesting “Whatsits” brought in by members.  We managed to figure out most of them at this always popular part of our annual meetings.

Whatsit's Session at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Whatsit’s Session at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Everyone went to bed tired but happy on Thursday night and were ready and raring to go again on Friday morning. We carpooled to nearby Nazareth, PA in the morning and visited the Moravian Historical Society Museum and then enjoyed a fascinating tour of the Martin Guitar Company.

Handwork at Martin Guitar, Nazareth, PA

Handwork at Martin Guitar, Nazareth, PA

Martin Guitar has been making beautiful handcrafted guitars and ukuleles in Nazareth since 1845. Many commented that this tour was “the best industrial tour” they’d ever taken ( The Martin Guitar Museum located at the factory is filled with fascinating exhibits and fabulous guitars.

The Martin Guitar Museum

The Martin Guitar Museum

Friday afternoon we enjoyed the sunshine and pleasant surroundings at the Jacobsburg Historical Society, home of the Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum.

The Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum

The Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum

The wonderful all volunteer staff put on a fabulous program as we learned about the five generations of the Henry family who made long guns at the site.  The afternoon provided a relaxing time to view the Henry’s carriage house, the blacksmith shop, the boat shop, the summer kitchen, as well as the family museum and the Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum.  This group of dedicated volunteers have made the Jacobsburg historical Society a great place to visit if you’re ever in the area (

Lunch at the Jacobsburg Historical Society, 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Lunch at the Jacobsburg Historical Society


The summer kitchen at the Jacobsburg Historical Society

The summer kitchen at the Jacobsburg Historical Society

Friday evening, many members enjoyed the face paced antique tool auction put on by Mike Urness and Sara Holmes of the Great Planes Trading Company.  It was another full day of learning and fun!

Walter Jacob's display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Walter Jacob’s display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

On Saturday morning the tool exchange started as soon as the doors open and we enjoyed 23 displays brought by members with the theme, “Tools that Cut and Tools that Measure.  The displays were varied and showed great ingenuity.

Charles William's display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Charles William’s display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Cheryl Fox's display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Cheryl Fox’s display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting


Roger Bourgeois display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Roger Bourgeois’ display at the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting

Many members also attended the Saturday morning workshops which included blacksmithing, a great lecture and tasting by Historic Bethlehem’s own beer historian.

Blacksmith at Historic Bethlehem in the Colonial Industrial Quarter

Blacksmith at Historic Bethlehem in the Colonial Industrial Quarter

We learned how to make Moravian stars, had a behind the scenes textile and doll house tour at the Kemerer Museum and even heard about the history and making of the Polly Heckewelder doll, the oldest continuously made doll in the U.S. But there was still more!  On Saturday afternoon, Henry Disston Jr. gave a wonderful lecture on the history of the Disston Saw Company.  At the conclusion of his talk Henry and his brother Michael paired up with Henry on his Martin Guitar while Michael played his Disston musical saw.

Michael Disston playing the musical saw while accompanied by jenry Disston jr. on his Martin guitar at the 2018 EAIA annual Meeting

Michael Disston playing the musical saw while accompanied by jenry Disston jr. on his Martin guitar at the 2018 EAIA annual Meeting

We also discovered that one of our own EAIA members, Tal Harris also plays the musical saw and we were treated to a wonderful spontaneous concert!

Saturday evening concluded with the always fun Silent Auction with items donated by EAIA members in attendance, with many of the items made by EAIA members.  All the money raised goes to support the EAIA budget and lots of people went home with one or more items from the auction.  Our banquet and Annual Meeting followed with good food, great conversation and fond farewells as the evening wound down.  The Lehigh Valley proved to be a great location for a memorable meeting to help celebrate EAIA’s 85th Anniversary!

We’ll meet again next spring in Lowell, Massachusetts May 15th thru May 18th 2019 for EAIA’s next Annual Meeting.  Mark those dates on your calendar and join us for a great time!

Historic Bethlehem's blacksmith discussing a classic moravian style hinge

Historic Bethlehem’s blacksmith discussing a classic Moravian style hinge

 Stay tuned for a picture gallery of the 2018 EAIA Annual Meeting coming soon!

by Paul Van Pernis

Please check out this online photo gallery from the event which you can find here.

[1] A libella is a plumb level. The Assyrians and Egyptians were probably the first users of the libella.  It consists of an “A” shaped frame with a plumb line suspended from the apex that coincides with a mark on the lower crossbar when the instrument is level. Archeolo­gists are of the belief that the horizontal foundations of the great pyramids of Egypt were probably defined by using a libella. It was once a standard piece of equipment for the woodworker, carpenter, stone mason and surveyor. It can determine plumb and level, be used as a square and even serve as a ruler if needed. The modern toolbox has replaced the libella with three tools; a spirit level, a plumb bob and a framing square.

EAIA’s 2018 Annual Meeting Photo Gallery – 85 Years Young!

Moravian Architecture in Bethlehem, PA

The Lehigh Valley was a great place to celebrate the Early American Industry Association’s 85th Anniversary during our 2018 Annual Meeting!  Beautiful weather, fantastic historic sites and museums to visit, great workshops, ,demonstrations,tool trading, and member displays. All done while we enjoyed lots of learning, friendship and fun in and around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Watch the slide show below and enjoy the memories.  Can you find yourself?

Thanks to all of you for coming and special thanks to my co-hosts – David Lauer, David Pollak, and Eileen Van Pernis who helped make it all possible.  We hope to see all of you and many more EAIA members in Lowell, Massachusetts for the 2019 Annual Meeting May 15th thru the 18th, 2019!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Stanley Model Shop Tools: A Transitional Furring Plane Prototype

This is the first of what is intended to be an occasional series describing some of the Stanley Model Shop tools in my collection and sometimes giving opinions and historical tidbits relating to them.  Many of the Model Shop tools are prototypes and, thus, are either one-offs or very limited production models.  Although information about a number of Model Shop tools has been published in journals such as The Chronicle, The Gristmill, and Fine Tool Journal and in various blogs, information about many others is not generally available to the tool collecting community.  I hope this series will help spread information about a few more of these very interesting tools.

Stanley maintained the Model Shop from the earliest times [1].  The Model Shop gave Stanley inventors an opportunity to try out new ideas and develop prototypes for new tools, to test prototypes and production parts, and to evaluate competitor’s products.  The Model Shop also stored prototypes for future reference.  Stanley actively solicited ideas for new tools from users at least as early as 1900 with the August 1900 Catalogue No. 26 stating on page 2 “We are frank to state that the design of many of the special tools which we show originated in the suggestions of our customers.  We are always pleased to receive suggestions from the tool-user.” [2]  I have heard, but I can’t remember where, that Stanley held regular Tuesday morning meetings to consider ideas and prototypes for production.

There were a number of authorized clean outs of obsolete prototypes, casting patterns, and other material from the Model Shop over the years with the largest happening in 1964 and 1974.  Typically, the removed materials were designated as “junk” and employees were allowed to take what they wanted.  This accounts for many of the prototypes seen today.

Many of the model shop tools share characteristics that differentiate them from production tools.  First, they are very limited production tools or one offs, some of which are unlike any regular production Stanley tools and some of which differ from regular production tools only in minor details.  Many Model Shop tools use mostly stock parts, but have specially made unique features.  The stock parts may be parts pulled off the production line or may be unfinished, imperfect, or seconds not of acceptable quality for sale.  Cutters may or may not be marked.  Lastly, many (but not all) of the Model Shop tools have Model Shop identifying marks painted or scratched on them, often in several places, or have tags identifying them as model shop prototypes.  Most of the identifying marks are numerical, although some are alpha-numeric.  These Model Shop marks don’t seem to have any particular chronological order and may have been put on at the whim of whoever was cataloging the prototypes that day.  Most Model Shop tags I have seen have dates which are useful for telling when the prototypes were made.

With that introduction, we now turn to the subject of this piece, a transitional furring plane prototype (Figure 1).  This is one of my favorite prototypes because of its simplicity and its self-documenting provenance.  As with many Model Shop planes, this one shows no signs of use.

Figure 1 Stanley prototype transitional furring plane

Figure 1 Stanley prototype transitional furring plane

The prototype is based on a regular production Type 10 (1893-1899) Stanley No. 35 transitional plane.  Features of Type 10 include an S casting mark on the lever cap, left hand threads on the adjusting nut, three patent dates on the lateral lever, and a STANLEY / PAT AP’L 19 92 stamp on the cutter.  The stamp on the cutter is quite weak on this example.  The patent date refers to Edmund A. Schade’s Patent No. 473,087 “Plane Iron” of that date for placing the large hole in the iron at the bottom of the slot in the iron rather than at the top as had been done previously on Stanley bench planes.

Although the patent for the “Schade slot” was not issued until 1892, Stanley had been producing and marketing the feature in 1890 [3] [4].  These dates became important because features made publicly available more than two years before the patent was granted rendered the patent void.  Among others, the Ohio Tool Company copied the large hole at the bottom of the iron (Ohio Tool used a hexagonal hole rather than a round one).  Stanley sued for patent infringement with the trial beginning in 1901.  Ohio Tool asserted that the low hole was a prior invention available to any company.  The court agreed with Ohio Tool, noting that the patent was an obvious solution to a simple problem, and Stanley lost the case.

Edmund A. Schade was born August 29, 1855, in Saxony Germany [4].  The family immigrated to America about 1864 and Edmund apprenticed in the Sargent & Company machine shop prior to 1873, when he was employed by Stanley Rule & Level Company.  Shortly thereafter he rose to foreman of his department and by 1900 became Mechanical Superintendent and remained so until his death in 1932, ending a 59 year career with Stanley.  The April 19, 1892, plane iron patent was Schade’s first known plane related patent.  Other notable Stanley plane patents by Schade include the design patent for the No. 20 circular plane (1893), patents for the No. 55 combination plane (with Justus Traut, 1895), the early Bedrock plane frogs (1895), the tilt handles on the No. 85 and 10 ¼ planes (with his brother Albert, also employed by Stanley, 1905), the new style Bedrock planes (1911), brass bushings and machine screws to secure the frog on transitional planes(1912), Gage iron planes (1920), the design patent for the No. 144 plane (1925), and the patents for the No. 164 plane (1927) and Ready Edge Blades (1927).

Returning to the prototype furring plane, it was made by modifying the sole of a No. 35 plane.  As can be seen in Figure 1, Figure 2, and Figure 3 the sole has been by hollowed out ahead of and behind the mouth, leaving small bearing surfaces at the mouth and heel (the purpose of the two small bearing surfaces is to allow the plane to follow the contours of rough sawn lumber when planing the “fur” off rather than to produce the flat surface that typical smooth planes produce).  Figure 3 shows that the hollowing out at the toe was not done very carefully; the cut is slanted across the toe of the plane.  Figure 3 also clearly shows the markings on the nose of the plane:  the Model Shop number 3706 and STANLEY / RULE & LEVEL COMPANY / NO. 35 with the last line being cut in half. 

Figure 2 View of sole of prototype plane

Figure 2 View of sole of prototype plane

Figure 3 Detail of nose of plane

Figure 3 Detail of nose of plane

Details of the markings on the sole of the plane are shown in Figure 4.  I have observed the I15 mark on other Model Shop prototype planes.  Its significance is unknown to me.  The sole behind the mouth also contains the signatures of E. R. Van Vleck and Boyer Lilpho(?) and the date March 26 / 04.  The toe of the sole is signed “Made April 9/04 by E. A. Schade.”  I have seen other examples of Schade’s signature and this appears to be in his hand.  It is interesting that Schade, who claims creation of this prototype, signed it two weeks after the other two.  E. A. Schade has been discussed above, but the identities of E. R. Van Vleck and Boyer Lilpho(?) are unknown to me.  Were they employees of the Model Shop or did they have other positions with the Stanley Rule and Level Company?  If anyone knows, let me know.

Figure 4 Details of markings on sole

Figure 4 Details of markings on sole

The date this prototype was made raises a question about its intended purpose.  It was made more than a year after Jefferson Allen’s “Plane” Patent No. 721,771 of March 3, 1903, but before the cast iron bodied Stanley No. 340 furring plane was marketed in 1905 (Figure 5) [5].  Was this intended to be a quick and dirty prototype of the No. 340 or did Stanley consider making a transitional furring plane.  If the latter, one suspects that the time of consideration must have been very brief because the wood sole of the plane with its small bearing surfaces near the mouth and heel would have worn away very quickly when used on rough lumber.

Figure 5 Stanley No 340 furring plane

Figure 5 Stanley No 340 furring plane

It should be noted that the transitional prototype furring plane and the production No. 340 plane resemble the plane shown in Allen’s patent (Figure 6) only in broad concept.  The patent states “This invention has for its object the production of a novel plane in which the cutting edge of the plane-iron is situated some distance below the sole of the stock, whereby the plane may operate upon portions of the surface to be planed which are below the level of the higher portions thereof.…  [S]ince the sole of the plane is above the level of the surface being operated upon it is possible to plane or smooth the depressed portions in the surface.… My improved plane is especially useful in such operations as smoothing up the boards of a floor.… My improvement is of such a character that it may be applied to any type of plane.”

The primary feature of the plane is “a gage rib [6 in Figure 6] which extends across the sole thereof adjacent the mouth through which the cutting edge of the plane-iron projects. Preferably this gage-rib will be constructed to be detachably secured to the plane, so that the plane can be used with or without it, as desired.”

The plane also features a detachable nose piece (nose-plate) (8 in Figure 6) and a rocking support toward the rear of the body (13 in Figure 6):  “I have herein illustrated said rib as being formed integral with a nose-piece 8, which is detachably secured to the front end of the plane, whereby said nose-plate and rib may be removed whenever it is desired to use the plane in the ordinary [w]ay…. I will also preferably provide the heel of the plane with a detachable half round or semispherical projection 13 to form a sort of rocking support for the plane when my improvements are applied thereto. This rocking support provides means whereby the plane may be regulated slightly to better accommodate it to uneven surfaces.”

Figure 6 Jefferson Allen's “Plane” Patent No. 721,771

Figure 6 Jefferson Allen’s “Plane” Patent No. 721,771

The Model Shop prototype furring plane (Figure 1) and the production No. 340 furring plane (Figure 5) resemble each other closely in concept and design and are a great simplification of the rather complicated design described in Allen’s patent. Allen promotes his plane as “especially useful in such operations as smoothing up the boards of a floor” while Stanley recommends the No. 340 plane “[f]or preparing lumber as it comes roughly sawed from the mill.  The construction is such that it will remove the fur, grit, dirt, etc., and in fact “clean up” the surface and get it ready for the bench plane quicker than any other hand tool.” [6]

If you have additional information or comments about this or other Stanley Model Shop prototypes, please contact me at or reply to this blog.  I look forward to hearing from you.


[1] C. Blanchard, “The Stanley Model Shop or Barrel Days,” Fine Tool Journal, vol. 50, pp. 22-23, Fall 2000.

[2] Stanley Rule and Level Company Catalogue No. 26, August, 1900.

[3] J. Walter, Antique & Collectible Stanley Tools, Guide to Identity & Value, Marietta, Ohio: The Tool Merchant, 1996, p. 806.

[4] R. K. Smith, Patented Transitional & Metallic Planes in America–Vol. II, Athol, MA: Roger K. Smith, 1992, pp. 224-229.

[5] J. Walter, Antique & Collectible Stanley Tools, Guide to Identity & Value, Marietta, Ohio: The Tool Merchant, 1996, pp. 457, 809.

[6] Stanley Tools Catalogue No. 110, 1911, p. 38.



Tales, Teasers, and Enticements – Part II

The Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum

The 85th Anniversary Early American Industries Association Annual Meeting is not far off.  Join us in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania as we explore the diverse and fascinating history of the Lehigh Valley May 23rd through May 26th, 2018. We guarantee you’ll have a good time, make new friends and learn more about early American industry and the fascinating history of the Moravians.

The Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts

Figure 1. The Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts

On Thursday one of our stops will be the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts which is housed in three interconnected mid-1800’s homes in Bethlehem. The museum is one of only 15 museums in the United States dedicated to the “decorative arts”. The period rooms, and galleries highlight furniture, paintings, china, clothing, and silver from over three centuries of decorative arts. The museum is named for Annie S. Kemerer who was born in 1865 just south of Bethlehem. Annie married into a prominent Bethlehem family and she and her husband had one son. Annie and her family enjoyed surrounding themselves with beautiful furniture, paintings, and decorative objects.  After the untimely deaths of her son and then her husband, Annie became a recluse but continued to be an avid collector of antiques. Through her generous bequest, the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts was established in Bethlehem after her death in 1951. Annie Kemerer’s extensive personal collection includes lovely examples of Pennsylvania German textiles, exquisite furniture, priceless Bohemian glass, and her breathtaking 200-piece wedding china.

The Historic Bethlehem Collection Resource Center was added to the Kemerer Museum in the fall of 2013. This is a two-story environmentally controlled vault that houses all of the most sensitive objects in the collections of Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites. On the interior there are floor to ceiling glass walls making it possible for visitors to see the collections.

Doll House at the Kemmerer Museum in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Figure 2. Doll House at the Kemerer Museum in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

The second floor of the vault is home to the distinguished Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse and Toy Collection, forty-four structures and 6,000 pieces, making it one of the largest antique dollhouse collections in the United States. This collection, spanning the period from 1830-1930, recounts 100 years of architectural and decorative arts history. Mrs. Prime was so precise in her collecting that she only put pieces in each house that were period-appropriate, down to the china. Because the collection is so vast, the museum feature select houses throughout the year. During our EAIA Annual Meeting we’ve arranged special “behind the scenes” tours of both the dollhouse collection and the Kemerer’s extensive textile collection.

Martin Guitar Factory Museum

Figure 3. Martin Guitar Factory Museum

On Friday we’ll visit Martin Guitar in nearby Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  Established in 1833 by Christian Frederic Martin the company is highly regarded for its steel string guitars and is a leading manufacturer of flat top guitars. The company has been run by the Martin family throughout its history. The current chairman and CEO, C.F. ‘Chris’ Martin IV, is the great-great-great-grandson of the founder. The firm was the first to introduce many of the characteristic features of the modern flat top, steel-string acoustic guitar.  Martin instruments can sell for thousands of dollars, and vintage instruments occasionally command six-figure prices. We’ll take a tour of the factory to see how these world class guitars are made and spend time in the delightful museum that is housed in the factory.

Moravian Historical Society

Figure 4. The Moravian Historical Society

Friday will also allow us an opportunity to visit the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth. Housed in the George Whitfield house (1740-1743) the Moravian Historical Society museum houses one of the oldest and most distinguished collections of artifacts, art, and architecture related to Moravian history in North America.  You’ll see the first violin made in America, early Moravian made organs and an amazing collection of Moravian musical instruments.  The eighteenth and nineteenth-century Moravians considered music a necessity, an essential part of their daily lives. Many Moravian clergy and laypeople were trained in music before they came to Pennsylvania by the same composers who influenced Mozart and Haydn.  In Moravian life there was no distinction between the “sacred” and the “secular.” Each person’s gifts were used for the benefit of the entire community. While there was little emphasis given to music as a distinct profession–many of the composers were also teachers and pastors–music was an essential part of everyone’s education.

Early Moravian Organ Made in Bethlehem, PA

Figure 5. Early Moravian Organ Made in Bethlehem, PA

Throughout the history of the Moravian Church, instruments have been used consistently in worship as well as entertainment. Instruments came to America early with the Moravians; by 1742 Bethlehem had flutes, violins, violas da braccio, violas da gamba, and horns. Beginning in the early 18th century, Moravian settlements in America used the trombone choir consisting of alto, tenor, and bass trombones as a distinctive part of worship.  In 18th century Moravian settlements, the trombone choir, playing from the church tower or from in front of the entrance, served to call the congregation to worship, and served as the congregation’s “portable” ensemble for accompanying outdoor services, burial services, and the Easter sunrise service traditionally held in the graveyard adjacent to the church.

Henry Factory in Jacobsburg, PA

Figure 6. An Early Painting of the Henry Gun Factory in Jacobsburg, PA

On Friday afternoon we’ll have lunch at the Jacobsburg Historical Society (just 4 miles north of Nazareth) home of the Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum.  The Pennsylvania Longrifle Museum features more than 100 historic arms on either permanent display or in rotating, topical exhibits. Displays feature Henry firearms dating from the American Fur Trade, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the American West, and the early twentieth century. Most of the firearms were made by the Henrys of Bolton, but the collection also contains arms made by Abraham Henry (1768-1807), who apprenticed in Nazareth under his brother William Henry II (1757-1821) but returned to Lancaster to practice his trade. The Bolton area itself produced guns for more than 100 years. Here are a few tidbits about Jacobsburg and the Henry family.

    • Around 1750, William Henry I began making and repairing rifles in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He repaired arms for the Pennsylvania troops building Fort Augusta on the Susquehanna in 1756 and served as an armorer for the Forbes Expedition of 1758.
    • Robert Fulton, a Lancaster native, was an early inventor of practical steam applications. As a young boy, he visited William Henry, who had been experimenting with steam-powered boats on the Conestoga River.
    • William Henry I served during the Revolutionary War as superintendent of arms and military accoutrements for the Continental army. Both continental and state authorities gave him enormous responsibilities for procuring a wide range of materiel — including shoes and guns — that kept American troops in the field.
    • The Henry Family not only produced or repaired firearms for all our nation’s major conflicts from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, but they were also the primary suppliers of rifles for one of the largest American business enterprises of the early nineteenth century, John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company. The Henry firearm became the most prominent weapon of the western frontier due to its durability, accuracy, and relatively low-cost.
    • William Henry II, who lived and worked in Nazareth after 1780, was appointed an associate judge of Northampton County’s Court of Common Pleas in 1788 and a presidential elector in 1792. In 1799 he served as a judge in the trials that followed the 1798 Fries Rebellion, during which several hundred farmers marched on Bethlehem to force the release of tax resisters that federal marshals had imprisoned in the Sun Inn.
    • Mathew S. Henry (son of William Henry II) built the first iron furnace in Northampton County at Jacobsburg, which he named Catherine Furnace after his wife. The furnace produced its first ton of pig iron on May 10, 1825.
    • William Henry III was a founder of the city of Scranton, PA.
    • James Henry drafted the first legislation protecting Pennsylvania’s wetlands and waterways.

Figure 7, A Photo of the Henry Gun Factory

And of course, we’ll have our Whatsit’s session on Thursday night, so don’t forget to bring that tool you just can’t quite figure out and we’ll see if we can collectively give you an answer.

There’s a lot to do in the Lehigh Valley in and around Bethlehem.  You may want to come a day or two early or extend your stay for a day or two just to spend some more time in this fascinating part of Pennsylvania.  Here are a few possibilities:

  1. Lost River Caverns: Head to Hellertown and take a guided walking tour lasting 30 to 45 minutes. You’ll see natural cave formations including stalactites and stalagmites. Pack a jacket because it’s always 52 degrees in the cave.
  2. America on Wheels: Anyone who admires classic Pierce Arrows and Packards should visit this Allentown museum. Highlights include major exhibits like one on performance (fast and comfortable) cars, car memorabilia and a great gallery of trucks produced for 68 years by Mack Trucks.
  3. Pennsylvania is fortunate to still have almost 200 covered bridges, and there are seven in Lehigh and Northampton counties. A great way to see them is to take a self-guided driving tour. It’s a 50-mile journey that takes you through some of the most picturesque parts of the Lehigh Valley on your way to seeing the Valley’s covered bridges.
  4. The Asa Packer Mansion: It’s a short drive from the Lehigh Valley to the beautiful town called  Jim Thorpe. One of the best places to visit there is the Asa Packer Mansion. Built in 1861, it was the home of philanthropist, railroad magnate and founder of Lehigh University, Asa Packer. One unique aspect: The interior of the Victorian mansion is virtually unchanged, with the same furniture and furnishings as when the Packer family lived there from 1861 to 1912.
  5. Did you know that Just Born is the ninth largest candy company in the country and all of their candy is proudly produced in the USA?  Their largest factory is in Bethlehem and is the home of PEEPS®, MIKE AND IKE® and HOT TAMALES®  You can’t tour the factory, but you might want to indulge while you’re at the meeting!
  6. Antique stores and malls – lots and lots of them, from Bethlehem to Allentown to Kutztown.
  7. And there’s more.  This part of Pennsylvania is full of historic sites, small museums, wonderful architecture wonderful small towns and beautiful farmland.  We’ll be there at the end of May, so things should be in bloom!

It’s not to late to sign up!  Do it today! Don’t forget to bring your “Whatsit” and please think about bringing something you’ve made or an item you want to donate to our Silent Auction. It’s scheduled to take place right before our Saturday night banquet. All the money raised helps support EAIA!  Come and join us as we celebrate the Early American Industries Association’s 85th anniversary in the Lehigh Valley!

by Paul Van Pernis

Tales Teaser and Enticements – Part I

Moravian Architecture in Bethlehem, PA

The Early American Industries 2018 Annual Meeting is only about 3 months away.  On May 23rd through May 26th, 2018, we’ll celebrate EAIA’s 85th anniversary during our annual meeting in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.  What follows are a few historical facts, some teasers, and hopefully an enticement or two that will convince you to come join us for all the fun.

Did you know that the Moravian church has been around for over 550 years?  Founded in 1457, the Moravian Church, or Unitas Fratrum (Unity of Brethren) as followers of John Hus gathered in the village of Kunvald, about 100 miles east of Prague, in eastern Bohemia, and organized the church. This was 60 years before Martin Luther began his reformation and 100 years before the establishment of the Anglican Church.[i]  The eighteenth century saw the renewal of the Moravian Church through the patronage of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (What a great name!).

Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf

Figure 1. Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf

The Moravians settled in Pennsylvania on Christmas Eve in 1741 founded their communal society in Bethlehem. Here’s a fact – Moravian College in Bethlehem traces its origin to a girls’ school called The Bethlehem Female Seminary founded in May 1742 by sixteen-year-old Countess Benigna von Zinzendorf. The young countess, was on an eighteen-month visit to the Moravian settlements in the New World with her father, Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf when she felt moved to start the school.  Because the Moravians consider every human soul a potential candidate for salvation, they feel every human being should be educated. Their philosophy is summed up by one of their early bishops Amos Comenius who said, “not the children of the rich or of the powerful only, but of all alike, boys and girls, both noble and ignoble, rich and poor, in all cities and towns, villages and hamlets, should be sent to school.” The Moravians therefore considered schools secondary in importance only to churches.  Come and see the wonderful architecture of the Moravians.  Experience their culture and learn more about their communal society.  We’ll visit not only the buildings, but we’ll have a chance to visit the Moravian Archives during an open house in the evening on Wednesday May 23rd.  The Moravians kept great records of all of their activities, and these records, pictures, drawings, and artifacts are preserved in the Moravian Archives.

Painting of Bethlehem Steel Works c.1881 by Joseph Pennell

Figure 2. Painting of Bethlehem Steel Works c.1881 by Joseph Pennell

Bethlehem Steel can trace its roots to the Saucona Iron Company which was established in Bethlehem in 1857.  On May 1, 1861, the company’s title was changed again, this time to the Bethlehem Iron Company.  Construction of the first blast furnace began on July 1, 1861, and it went into operation on January 4, 1863. The first rolling mill was built between the spring of 1861 and the summer of 1863, with the first railroads rails being rolled on September 26. A machine shop, in 1865, and another blast furnace, in 1867, were completed. During its early years, the company produced rails for the rapidly expanding railroads and armor plating for the U.S. Navy.  During World War I and World War II, Bethlehem Steel was a major supplier of armor plate and ordnance to the U.S. armed forces, including armor plate and large-caliber guns for the Navy.

6 inch Naval Guns Being Made at Bethlehem Steel

Figure 3. 6 inch Naval Guns Being Made at Bethlehem Steel

In the 1930s, the company made the steel sections and parts for the Golden Gate Bridge.  During World War II, as much as 70 percent of airplane cylinder forgings, one-quarter of the armor plate for warships, and one-third of the big cannon forgings for the U.S armed forces were turned out by Bethlehem Steel.  Bethlehem Steel ranked seventh among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts.  Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation’s 15 shipyards produced a total of 1,121 ships, more than any other builder during the war and nearly one-fifth of the U.S. Navy’s fleet.

USS Massachusetts Produced by Bethlehem Shipbuilding During World War II

Figure 4. USS Massachusetts Produced by Bethlehem Shipbuilding During World War II

At the end of 1995, Bethlehem Steel discontinued steel-making at the main Bethlehem plant. After roughly 140 years of metal production, Bethlehem Steel Corporation ceased its Bethlehem operations. During the Thursday tours we’ll learn more about the history steel making during our guided tour of the blast furnaces and the buildings remaining on this historic site. We’ll top that off with an evening tour of the National Museum of Industrial History located in one of the 100-year-old Bethlehem Steel buildings.  The museum which is within walking distance of our hotel is being closed to the public for our group and we’ll enjoy our Ice Cream Social and Whatsit’s session at the museum Thursday evening, May 24th.  The museum staff will be on hand to answer our questions and the museum will be ours to enjoy. This Smithsonian affiliated museum houses a great collection of machinery that was displayed at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. In addition, they’ve got great information on the steel industry.

Jacquard Silk Loom at the National Museum of Industrial History

Figure 5. Jacquard Silk Loom at the National Museum of Industrial History

Did you know that the Lehigh Valley was the home of America’s silk industry?  More people including women and children were employed in the Lehigh Valley’s silk mills than steel mills.  The museum has a wonderful display about the silk industry including a Jacquard silk loom.

There’s all of this and lots more to do and see during EAIA’s 2018 Annual Meeting.  If you have registered already, do it now!  I’ll tell you more in the next installment of Tales, Teasers, and Enticements.


Figure 6. At the National Museum of Industrial History

by Paul Van Pernis


[i] John Hus (1369-1415) was a professor of philosophy and rector of the University in Prague. The Bethlehem Chapel in Prague, where Hus preached, became a rallying place for the Czech reformation. Gaining support from students and the common people, he led a protest movement against many practices of the Roman Catholic clergy and hierarchy. Hus was accused of heresy, underwent a long trial at the Council of Constance, and was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415

A Maritime Blacksmith of Lamu

In my professional travels in developing countries, I’ve been amazed how analogous work methods are to those used in America in the early period of our trade history. Several years ago we had the opportunity to join our son in Kenya where he was finishing his junior year at UMass. As Peace Corps volunteers in the early 1970’s in the northwest corner of Kenya near Uganda we hadn’t an opportunity to explore the coast despite my interest and experience as a wooden boat builder. Knowing the era of traditional construction of wooden Lamu dhows was declining, we took the opportunity to fly from Nairobi to Lamu Island in a small plane to sail a dhow and explore the construction and maintenance of these venerable vessels. Lamu Island is located on the Indian Ocean on the northern coast of Kenya about 60 miles south of Somalia. The island had been the center of dhow construction for several hundred years and has not changed the construction techniques or the general structure in all that time. All of the construction is done on the island, from selection of ribs in the endless mangroves that surround the island to the forging of all the fittings that are used in fastening the hulls of the boats. Consequently it’s a time capsule and a window on the entire construction process. In many respects it’s an analog to the methods employed for shipbuilding in America two centuries ago, but with much more basic tools.

Since my son and I are amateur blacksmiths, we made sure we saw that component of construction. After sailing along the coast in a hired dhow we moored on the northwest side of the island at the small town of Matondoni, famous for centuries as a boat building center. There were a number of dhows and other small craft under construction or maintenance along the shore. After enquiring about forging of the nails and other fittings for the boats we were led through narrow passages in the crowded village to a small rectangular shelter made from palm leaves on a bamboo frame.

We were introduced to the elderly occupant who was seated on the floor before several pieces of random iron and a small fire. He was the nail maker for the boatyards in Lamu and also sent nails down the coast toward Mombasa. He also forged other fittings, but his primary focus was the very long tapered nails that fasten the ribs together and the planking to the ribs, hence are of vital importance to the integrity and water tightness of the hull.
He very generously demonstrated the forging process from beginning to end, starting with a piece of reinforcing rod and ending with a perfectly tapered and headed spike. He also challenged our son to make a nail who did so with modest success after some coaching.

The smith’s forge was a small hole in the ground into which two metal pipes had been inserted to provide forced air to the fire. The fuel for the forge was charcoal and the bellows were made from two modified plastic lined cement bags. The bottom of each bag was attached to the end of one of the pipes. The other end of each bag was open; each side of the opening had been sewn to a straight sticks that formed a crude but effective valve. The bag was filled by lifting the open end, closing the sticks together and compressing the bag to push air into the pipe and then into the forge. By operating one bag in each hand, the smith was able to provide a continuous flow of air as shown in the photo below.


Note the great care that he has taken to economize on charcoal and maximize the forge fire by placing a small piece of metal over the fire to concentrate the heat. In the lower left-hand corner note the piece of corrugated steel roofing that was moved around to minimize the effect of wind.

His improvised bellows and minimalist forge.

The forging process started with the heating of rebar in the forge as shown above, drawing it out using a partially buried sledge hammer head as an anvil.

Drawing out and shaping the shaft of the nail.

The piece was straightened and partially cut with a hot chisel on the 3” x 3” steel bar beside the smith.

Hot cutting. The lighting suggests the material was cold. It wasn’t!

and bent off on the discarded casing for a vehicle axle end as shown below.

It was reheated in the forge and the cut end upset in preparation for forging the head,

The hot nail is upset at the head end.

the head forged in a rudimentary nail header, a hole through a vehicle leaf spring,

Using a hole in a truck spring as a nail header.

and resulted in a very neat rose-head on a 5 in. spike.

The final product was very clean, neat and professional and had taken less than 10 minutes….with very little fuel.

I was very interested in how the spikes were driven into the boats since it appeared that a small pilot hole would result in splitting when the spike was fully pounded in place and a larger hole would potentially leak. Much to my surprise each hole for a spike is typically drilled with three or four bow drill bits in sequence corresponding to the taper in the spike. Consequently the spike doesn’t split the wood, holds well, and is virtually leak proof.

Drilling a nail hole with a bow drill.


A bow with the four bits used in sequence to drill the tapered hols for a spike. Note that the entire spindle was replaced rather than just the bit.

We left Matondoni with a great deal of admiration for the quality of craftsmanship with very basic tools…and little bit of practical experience with bellows we never imagined existed.  A classic case of innovative “making do”, something for which blacksmiths have been known for times immemorial.

An new apprentice tries his hand at the bellows….and found them very effective after learning the rhythm.