How to Identify Antique Primitive Tools

Written by linda stamberger
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How to Identify Antique Primitive Tools
Primitive tools are collectors' items (tools image by Gina Smith from

Antique primitive tools are popular among collectors of old wooden tools made by hand before mass production in factories and the use of stainless steel. Some antique primitive tools retain their value even if there were many similar pieces made. If you are interested in collecting such items, you need to know how to identify the real thing.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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    Look at your antique primitive tool. Wrought iron metals are heavier pieces often trademark stamped on the blade or handle. Registered trademarks were stamped on antique primitive tools in either designs or company words, registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office (USPTO). For example, Ampco Metals Inc. used the word Ampco on their tools beginning in 1914, and Belknap Inc. used a blue grass logo on their tools beginning in 1905. For a list of all the trademarks and dates for antique primitive iron tool manufacturers, check out the website>

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    Look for a patent mark, which is found on an antique primitive tool in numerals. Collectors like patent marks because they are easy too look up in antique primitive tool guidebooks and online. A patent mark consists of plain numbers seared into the metal of a tool, or simple black print sometimes carved on wooden tools from the 1800s.

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    Look at your collection of antique primitive tools. There are many types of tools, including those for leather working and basket weaving, and the tools are made of many different materials, but the basics are wood and metal. The subgenres fall within these distinct categories. For example, there are various woodworking tools, metalworking tools, tools for making leather products and tools for making baskets.

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Tips and warnings

  • Keep your eyes open. Antique primitive tools are often traded and sold online and at flea markets, thrift stores, estate sales, garage sales, and antique tool shows. For the adventurous outdoor collector, antique tools can sometimes be found at dumps and old construction sites.

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