Antiques and Collectables

Collecting antiques and old wares has been a wonderful hobby throughout my working career and now has extended into retirement. The accumulation of knowledge, about finds and the enjoyment created have been a fantastic part of life thus far. I hope it continues! 

I love the information that comes from searching out and researching the finds that are made. 

Please visit and support your local antique haunts. Your support may keep them in business in slow times. Local Taree and  Wingham businesses: Adam, Robbie & Anna at Clancy’s (High St) near the MRD Hospital, Taree. Barry at Isadora’s Antiques – Victoria St, Taree (opp. Camera House), Col in Commerce St – near Taree West Newsagency. Sue at Delinquent Funk – Isabella St in Wingham right next to the chemist. Antiques and Old Wares – 12 Isabella St, Wingham.

Since the early days of the colony in Australia, the timber industry in New South Wales has been central to the economic and social viability of many regional communities across the state. The timber-getters and their bullock teams that worked the big timber forests are long gone but they played an important part in the development of the early settlements. In most cases, the timber-getters came to the area well ahead of the pioneering families who later toiled to turn the cleared areas into farmland. Townships soon sprung up close by. The timbermen were able to advise the settlers, who followed them, just where the best land was located for future farming pursuits. 

Timber was in high demand for houses and ships, and after the 1860s, for sleepers and other railway associated construction; later again, telegraph poles added to the demand for timber. Local farmers naturally used the timber on their own properties, and many found cedar so abundant that it was common to build barns and other functional buildings with this valuable and now scarce timber.

Much of this timber was cut, sawn and transported by hand to saw pits dug out close to where the timber was felled. The timber was then transported with bullock teams, a method long carried on even after the arrival of the internal combustion engine, when bullocks would drag the felled logs down from the mountains to ‘dumps’ more accessible to trucks. 

They were tough, resourceful men who were responsible for “opening” much of NSW. The axe their friend!

One of my earliest influences in my collecting, came approximately forty years ago through an auction catalogue that was sent to me from a collector of many amazing things. One of the lots was an axe, an old 15th Century – Executioners axe. English in origin and manufacture. No, I didn’t even bid! I knew what Jen’s reaction would be. To me, this axe told the story of a piece of history. We can’t change history, but, if we learn from our forebears’ mistakes, hopefully they won’t be repeated. At least we don’t have executions in Australia now. Ronald Ryan was the last person executed in Australia – 3rd Feb. 1967.  (Not with an axe was he Rex ? ed)

Edge tools are among the earliest tool forms, with surviving primitive axes dated to 8000 B.C. E. Early axes were of stone used in the hand, then with hafted handles applied. As metals came into vogue handles were applied in different ways and the quality of metals improved and hardened. Axes were used for shelter, hunting and warfare.

The handles took on a variety of shapes, some indicative of their place of origin, others relating to function. The length of the handle had more to do with the arc of the swing that was required. Felling axes took a full swing and therefore needed the longest handles. Early axes have their handles fitted through the eye from the top down and the handles remain in place by locking into the taper of the eye, so they could be removed for sharpening.

Later axes, however, have their handles fitted through the eye from the bottom up, and have a wedge driven in from the top. This permanently locks the handle to the axe and was much preferred by Australian woodsmen. Many axes found today had been discarded because the handle was split or broken off. In most cases they can be bought at a fraction of their value and, with another handle, can be restored to their original condition. Most axe handles might have been replaced two or three times throughout the life of the tool. 

Pricing of antique axes runs the entire gamut from a few dollars to several hundred. Examples of well-made axes would include the Plumb, White, Kelly, Miller and numerous others. Beyond these are axes of sometimes lesser quality, but built to a price, and sold by the thousands. The better the quality of the steel the longer an axe will keep its edge.

There are several types of axes out there such as: Basic felling axes, double head felling axes, broad axes, goosewing axes, shipwrights or mast axes, cooper’s axes, coachmaker’s axes, ice axes, fire axes, mortising axes, turf axes and hatchets. 

It always amazes me the variety of old wares people collect. Sharp edged tools such as axes, adzes, rabbit trap setters, old saws, pocket knives ……….the list goes on. 

Antiques and Old Wares at 12 Isabella St is undergoing re-organisation and renewal as Dave has left for Queensland. The trip back and forth for over a year became too much. I will miss working with him. I don’t think we have had a cross word in our 25 year friendship.

Drop in and say hello. I am happy to help, if I can, answering questions on antiques and old wares. 

If you have items that you are not sure of, I may be able to help with information, appraisals and/or sales. I love the history and stories of old and  interesting treasures. Phone Rex – 0427 880 546.

Take care and stay safe!

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