Antique Tool identification assistance requested
January 6, 2013 1:07 PM   Subscribe

I have a Challenge to all antique hand tool buffs. I'd really appreciate knowing what this tool is and what it was used for... The tool consists of a brass piece mounted to a wooden handle. The tool measures 6 3/4 " in total length. At the high point of the brass forefront, it is 1 15/16 ". The brass piece is 1 5/8 " wide. It has a tool stamp of 'IDEAL TOOL COMPANY' in raised letters on the reverse side of the upright brass fixture. I could not find anything like it on the Ideal Tool Company Antique website... I would greatly appreciate your expert opinions as to what it is and was used to accomplish. Thank you for your professional and generous offer to identify this hand tool piece !
posted by Jim Young to Science & Nature (8 answers total)
This site says it's a "Leather Harness Shoemaker Cobbler Tool" ...

I'm guessing cobblers tool might be the correct one.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 1:35 PM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

My gut feeling was a shoemaker's tool. The use of brass, the precision rounded edges etc.
Bhfh has it bang on.
posted by Kerasia at 2:23 PM on January 6, 2013

Seconding shoemaking, or at least some kind of leather working. Bit the question remains, "what it was used to accomplish." The vertical surface above the point does not fit a typical shoe shape.
posted by beagle at 3:15 PM on January 6, 2013

My thoughts ran along the burnishing shaping aspects. Since it is bronze I assumed leather.

Picture a piece of leather on a form, beagle, and maybe using the tool to smooth the leather over the form. All conjecture though.
posted by Max Power at 4:23 PM on January 6, 2013

It might be a bucking iron of some kind. That is, a tool that you'd hold on one side of a material (leather, if it's a cobbler's tool) while you hammered a rivet or something else from the other side. So you'd hold this tool inside the shoe against the back of the rivet while you hammered on the other side. But this is just a guess. In terms of material, it's probably bronze (not brass), which would be hard enough to use with copper rivets or hardware that needed to be set on leather.
posted by gyusan at 5:11 PM on January 6, 2013

I. Marc Carlson, one of the world's top experts on medieval shoemaking, replied when asked about this item:

It may be used to smooth the top-stitching where the upper meets the welt. Or not.

So, there you have it! :)
posted by IAmBroom at 5:29 PM on January 6, 2013

It's a burnisher (aka burnishing tool) for tack-making (saddles, harness, etc.) It was designed to smooth and shape leather, especially around the seams and edges.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:39 AM on January 7, 2013

Thank You for all of your observations and input. I am satisfied with your answers.
posted by Jim Young at 5:40 PM on January 8, 2013

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