Monday, October 27, 2008

The Classics

My uncle gave me one of these leather grip Estwing rock hammers when I was in high school, back in 1959. I had it all through college and carried it from place to place after that, for years. My holy grail was to find an Iowa geode. Never did. My sister-in-law, before she got married, stumbled over one in the back yard of her student digs on Knapp Street. A big one. Oh, well, at least I've seen the planet Mercury. Some astronomers go their whole lives without seeing Mercury. Some rock hounds never even find a rock with native crystals (except those weird curved dolomite crystals around Niagara Falls), let alone a perfect Iowa geode the size of a cantalope.

Long story short, I lost the hammer to the exigencies of feckless fickle fate, but found a replacement here, for about fifty bucks including s&h.

This is the pick, a classic in utilitarian design and an industrial work of art; Estwing used to make a leather grip model of their chisel ended sedimentary rockbuster (basically a bricklayer's hammer), but that's only available these days in blue nylon/vinyl. The one piece forged steel is still there; only the handle is cheap. More durable, maybe. And maybe more visible if you drop it?

[Update] American craftsmanship has gone downhill a bit. In 1960, the hammer I just got by FedEx would have been a factory second. There are minor blemishes in the leatherwork and toolmarks on the base plate and picktip. Also, handle feels like it's coated with polyurethane these days. In the old days, it felt more natural. There is also a certain blandness in color, less contrast in the leather windings over the handle.



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