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Colonial Williamsburg Cleans Out The Attic

Tools, machines and antique artifacts from Colonial Williamsburg went on the auction block in Indianapolis, Ind., on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24.

“It is unusual. These items are from a very highly respected institution. It is a great opportunity for those interested. The items have been in storage for a lot of years,” said Martin Donnelly, owner of Live Free or Die Auctions, which will conduct the sale at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.

Many of the items to be sold have been stored at Colonial Williamsburg, a historic district in Williamsburg, Va., since 1935. Most of them date from the 19th Century and are not consistent with the Colonial Period, which is why they are up for bid. “There has already been a tremendous amount of interest from people who are aware we have these things. (Some people) have admired and looked at them for years. Each item will have the logo of Colonial Williamsburg on it,” Donnelly said.

The hand tools and shop accessories were once used in the shops at Colonial Williamsburg but have been replaced with functional period reproduction tools, a practice consistent with modern curatorial practices. “The tools will go to collectors. Using the tools in the shops degrades them, and the mission of Colonial Williamsburg is preservation,” Donnelly said.

All of the proceeds from the sale will benefit the collections acquisition fund of Colonial Williamsburg.

One of the highlights of the auction will come from Lot 500, an ivory-tipped cabinet maker’s plough plane, which is expected to bring $5,000 to $10,000, Donnelly said.

This high-quality 1880s tool, made by Sandusky Tool Co., was used by woodworkers to cut grooves for panels on cabinets, he explained. It has brass wheels and arms, which are ivory-tipped.

“It was top of the line and would have cost several months’ wages,” Donnelly said.

Other impressive items are watchmaker and clockmaker tools.

“They have visual appeal and are not readily available. These items are in nearly new condition despite being over 100 years old,” Donnelly stated.

Donnelly predicted that rare planes by Stanley Rule and Level Co., the largest toolmaker in the U.S., will be in high demand due to their superior condition and the added value of having been stored in the attic of the State Capitol Building.

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