|Tools are a window into the social
history of our civilization. They are a reminder to us of the people who built the world
that we now live in. The selection of tools in this exhibit are signposts of this social
history. We have a hammer that at some point in its history fell into the Thames River,
which flows through central London. Maybe the handle broke in use? Maybe the man who was
using it put it down and then it slipped off a plank? We don't know, but the tool is a
relic of the huge shipping industry that once thrived on the river's banks. There are
other areas that can be explored? How was the tool was made? When it was made and by whom
and where? Tools have a practical history behind them; how the tool was used and in what
context. Some tools we know a lot about. Others we just know about through use. Where
possible we have included contemporary quotations to illustrate something about each tool.
These ten tools were selected from the collection of Emil and Marty Pollak as fascinating examples that hint at the diversity of tools that have been used over the centuries.
Emil Pollak (1925 - 1995) was one of the seminal figures in tool research and collecting in America. His interest and his collection led to his compiling and writing or editing several of the most important books extant on American wooden planes, including Prices Realized on Rare Imprint American Wood Planes, both co-authored with his wife Martyl Pollak, Collecting Antique Tools and A Price Guide to Antique Tools, both co-authored with Herbert Kean, and The Fascinating World of Early Tools and Trades. For five years he edited and wrote most of the material for a quarterly journal Plane Talk, back issues of which are still in demand. He founded The Astragal Press - a publisher that specializes in books about early tools, trades and technology.
The Museum of Woodworking Tools would like to thank The Astragal Press and the Pollak family for their help in preparing this exhibit and allowing us the access into their collection.