I missed it last year, but Friday I took the day off for the Live Free Or Die Tool Auction in Nashua, NH. My daughter goes to school about 10 miles down the road, so after I dropped her off I went up for the tailgates sales. I didn't even bother with the indoor auction; I have to make a house payment this month, and I doubted my self control!
Clockwise from upper left: some good books; two jars of salvaged brass screws (have you priced new ones lately?); a Disston 10 ppi crosscut D-8; a nice skew iron; several socket firmer chisels; a couple of Yankee screwdrivers; five ratchet screwdrivers; a Starrett machinist's square; some Yankee driver bits; a mallet; a 12" Spofford brace; a selection of center bits; a wooden Sheffield brace; a saw wrest with brass stop; a hollow auger (to match the spoke pointer I got at Brimfield); 12 Jennings bits for less than a dollar each; a rosewood panel gauge; a rosewood spokeshave; a Stanley #12 scraper; and a couple of rusty old plane irons.
The parking lot of the Holiday Inn was spectacular. Where Brimfield was a large general antique flea market, this was nothing but tools. There were five times as many tool dealers packed into a single lot. The weather was gray, with on-and-off light rain driving the dealers to distraction. Not what you want when you have a lot of antique iron laid out.
The selection was incredible. So was the range. On one table, a solid ivory and brass Sheffield presentation brace for $4000. In another spot, rusty beaters in the bed of a pickup with nothing more than $20. There was something for every need and price range. One guy had the back of his van up with a rack in the back; on the top shelf was a Stanley #1 that looked like it had never touched wood, for $2600.
I saw one of the dealers I had bought from at Brimfield, and my favorite tool guy from Lancaster flea market. I saw Patrick Leach, but he said he was just there to buy at the auction. I got the Stanley #12 scraper from Walt of Brass City Records, and the lovely saw wrest from Tony Murland Antiques (was that Tony? His event list didn't list this one).
Most of the items I bought were in the $5-$20 range, with a few more expensive ones. I discovered that I have a weakness for ratchet screwdrivers (who knew?). One fellow was selling off the remnants of his collection, so I couldn't resist five of them. I was thrilled to get the Spofford brace from him; I love using my 8" Spofford, so it's nice to have one with a larger throw. I was also thrilled to get the wooden brace and set of center bits for good prices. Now I want to find some notched gimlet bits that will fit its spring lock.
Next year I may just skip Brimfield and save my money for this. Maybe I'll even dare to go inside. Someone could have walked into that parking lot owning no hand tools and could have left fully equipped. There were tons of planes (wooden and metal), chisels, saws, eggbeaters, braces, and auger sets. A group from Bennett Street School was there filling out their tool requirements.