Sandusky Plow Plane in Ebony & Ivory

Today, I got my hands on the most valuable antique tool ever sold at an auction by Brown Auction Services at the 25th International Antique Tool Auction in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Let me tell you the story.

The History
At one time, the powers that be in the upper echelons of The Sandusky Tool Company created an exhibition-class center-wheel plow plane. The plane was intended for show only and may have been part of the Sandusky display at the 1876 Centennial Exposition. The plane no doubt made a few trips to various shows and expositions but resided at the Sandusky offices until the company was disbanded.

In 1934, the father of the consignor of this tool enjoyed an experience many of us have dreamed of--he went to the factory and bought the best plow plane ever made by them at a tag sale and then came out of the building and showed his new possession to his four-year-old son. He told his son that he had just bought the contents of the whole building to get the plane. The plane has remained in the same family since.

The Plane
The plane consists of an ebony body with the improved beveled handle, ebony fence, ivory arms, bushings, bridle, fence wear plate, wedge, and decorative buttons. The metal skate, center wheel, and arm-attachment nuts, as well as the blade, are all nickel-plated. Of course, being a presentation plane, it has never been used and consequently is in original condition showing slight nickel loss on the skate and blade. When obtained from the Feick home in Florida, the plane was dirty and the nickel was tarnished. The dirt and tarnish has been professionally removed and the plane today retains its original finish and luster.
Anyway, this beauty went up for auction this morning at the Sheraton Inn, Harrisburg, where it was expected to go for something in the range of $40,000 to $60,000 US Dollars, according to the auctioneers. There was much anticipation amongst tool collectors around the world, but nowhere was the buzz greater than on the auction floor when "the plane" in Lot 308 came up for bids. I was excited as a kid in a candy store!

You should have been there. The bidding started higher than it was expected to finish, and it went up and up and up from there. If you want to know how much the Sandusky Presentation Plow Plane eventually sold for, you might just give a listen to the auction bidding. No doubt, this set some kind of world record for an antique tool sale price. Oh yeah, I wasn't the high bidder.

Antique Tools Roadshow

To find the best antique tools for our collections and for sale in the Rednersville Country Store, we travel across the country and internationally to antique tools shows and auctions.

Above is a display of some of the antique tools we're going to be looking at this week. Hopefully, we'll find the rare antique woodworking tools we're looking for this time. You never know.

Over the next few weeks, we'll show some of the antique tools we've picked up over the years, and share some stories about our interesting little road trips around the world in search of the finest antique tools.

The Antique of the Week

Forty years after the invention of the Easy-Bake Oven, a boy has mastered the classic toy that has been marketed to little girls for as long as most of us can remember. John McCune, a 9 year-old master baker from Valley Center, Kansas was named the Easy-Bake 2004 "Chef of the Year" this week, after baking his tempting "Easy-Bake Carrot Cake," concluding the search for America's best child chef. But long before Kenner's Easy-Bake Oven was first introduced at the 1964 Toy Fair, there were miniature electric ovens.

Coincidentally, the Antique of the Week at the Rednersville Country Store is an Empire electric toy stove by The Metal Ware Corp., patented 1924, pictured above, from the Antique Toys Collection of our Gallery of Antiques & Collectibles. This miniature electric stove, in perfect working condition, is one of the most talked-about antique toys in our store. Most toy collectors are very familiar with the Easy-Bake Oven, a classic toy for almost half a century, but a similar toy almost 80 years old is, indeed, a rare antique that is very collectible.

The Sunday Drive

It's become a bit of a tradition, around Prince Edward County, to go for a Sunday Drive along the roads less travelled. The cultural landscape has evolved--from horses and buggies from farms and villages, to prancing horses from the big cities. But some things never change; those are the real attractions of the County.
Prince Edward County, famous as a part of United Empire Loyalist settlement, is an island community encompassing less than 700 square kilometres, which boasts of over 800 kms of shoreline with varying geological features. The relative isolation of the island has nurtured a special rural culture, with overlays back through time as this culture evolved according to the natural setting and proximity to various markets. Within the County are to be found a remarkable mixture of heritage features (natural, architectural, archeological, historical), each meeting defined criteria for heritage significance.

Yet, to suggest that the County simply holds a collection of heritage assets is to sell it short. What makes the County unique, are the "webs of life" that link these assets to each other through time. These include the pastoral vistas, the historic allure of streetscapes with designated heritage buildings, the quiet harbours nestled into the geological features, and the natural shoreline as seen from the south which is the haven sought by migrating birds every spring. These examples identify only a few of the key links that bring the heritage of the County to life and make it the fascinating landscape that it is, rather than just an outdoor museum containing a variety of different artifacts. It is this combination of special places and events and their interwoven connections with the life of the County that sets Prince Edward apart as a potential National Cultural Landscape.

The notion of a "Sunday drive" perhaps explains this best. It is not so much the idea of rushing from one "artifact" site to another that makes a drive interesting, but the overall impression of seeing the mixture of places and what links them. Prince Edward County is not an outdoor museum with a scattering of artifacts, but a place that presents its heritage assets in a setting that brings them to life through an evolving economy and culture having long term respect and human involvement within a vibrant ecosystem.
Whether your ride is a horse or four hundred horses, there's no better place for a Sunday Drive than Prince Edward County. And there's no better place in the County to rest your horses than the Rednersville Country Store.

Rednersville on Tour

There's a nice little article in the Travel section of the Sun Media newspapers that talks about some of the interesting and unusual spots to see while touring the Backroads of Prince Edward County. Among those mentioned, is "Birdhouse City" south of Picton.
In the 1980s a local citizen with a passion for wood carving created a few birdhouses including one modelled after the former Massasauga Hotel. Others in the community were inspired to contribute their own efforts. Now there are over 90 birdhouses, many of which are reproductions of historic buildings in the county!
Maybe we should get that cabinetmaker down the road near Albury to make a birdhouse modeled on the Rednersville Country Store that could be added to the collection of landmark buildings on display at Birdhouse City.

There are other highlights on this particular tour, including what's said to be the "oldest road in Ontario" County Road 64 near Carrying Place. (You'd think County Road 1 would be older, but we don't do the numbering around these parts.) Our own choice little spot in the region, on County Road 3, is kindly mentioned on the tour guide's map.
This tour takes us through Rednersville, which has the oldest general store in Ontario; Picton, the main port through which Loyalists entered the county; the ghost towns of Eatonville and Centre; and Glenora, which was once home to John A. Macdonald.

At one time, Prince Edward County, east of Toronto, was considered a backwater. But in recent years a lot of people have begun moving here...
Some come to retire or retreat in what's become known as simply The County; others come here to start a new business. In the weeks ahead, we'll talk more about some of the great little businesses right here in the County.