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Do you have a yen for yesterday's tools?

Your father gave you an old wooden molding plane; your great-uncle left you a century-old handsaw. At a garage sale down the street, you bought up a pair of wooden handscrews for next to nothing. Somewhere along the way you caught the antique-tool-collecting bug, but where do you go from here? Try the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association.

Begun in Chicago in 1968 with just 16 members, the M-WTCA has since blossomed into an organization of 4,000. But don’t let the name fool you: Membership spans all 50 states and six countries.

According to the mission statement, the M-WTCA dedicates itself "to the study, preservation, and understanding of the early tools, implements, and devices used by our ancestors in their homes, shops, on the farms, and on the seas, and to a better perception of the industries and crafts in which these tools were used." That means more than just woodworking tools, though these tools play a significant part.

A membership fee of $25 per year ($33 for Canada and $40 for other countries) entitles you to several worthwhile benefits. You get a subscription to THE GRISTMILL, a quarterly magazine containing educational articles on tool collecting. You receive reprints of out-of-print tool-related literature, trade manuals, and catalogs. And, finally, you can attend the area
meetings held in any of the 18 geographic locations, or the biannual national meetings.

These meetings include tours to museums and restorations, lectures, seminars, and films and demonstrations of early crafts. They also provide space where members can display their special collections, and bring along antique tools for sale and trade.

For an application form, or more information on M-WTCA, write to Mid-West Tool Collectors Association, Inc., P.O. Box 8016, Berkeley, CA 94707, USA, or go to their Web site at and see their home page.

Photograph by John G. Wells


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