Wednesday, March 14, 2012

More Jackstraws and Geegaws

 Today's items are more geegaws than jackstraws. They were all made by Jack Price of Surgoinsville, Tennessee, some 25 years ago. Bill Henry bought them then, and I acquired them just recently. After researching the pieces (no, I don't know what each one represents), I'm hoping to suitably display them in a location where others can enjoy them. In the photo above, there is a plow, a primitive harrow, an anvil with tools, a log sled, a box sled, and a shovel. All these things would once have been found on a working farm in Appalachia.

 This is a set of household items. Starting at the top and going clockwise, there is a churn, a bucket, a mop, a lard paddle, a stir stick, a broom, a butter mold, and a rolling pin. A dough bowl is in the center.

 In this picture, left to right starting at the top: a bow saw, double and single ox yokes, a screwdriver, a baseball bat, a maul and froe, a handsaw, a cross-cut saw, and a two man handsaw. At the bottom is a mallet. Don't know what a maul and froe are? Back when wooden shingles were the usual roofing material, shingles were split rather than cut. There are small, water-carrying tubes that run the length of a piece of wood. If the shingle is cut, then rain can seep into the open ends of the tubes and the shingle will rot fairly quickly. If the shingles are split, however, the tubes remain intact and the ends are covered by the next shingle positioned up the roof. Water can't seep in and the shingles last much longer. A froe is a very dull blade that is used to split (or "rive") the wood into shingles. It's placed at the top of a section of wood and struck with the maul to drive it into the wood. The wood then splits between the vascular bundles (tubes). The instrument became the source of a familiar simile in Appalachia. If someone was not too bright, he might be described as being "dull as a froe." Kinda like saying "he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer."

This last set are hand tools. At the top we find an apple butter stirrer (click here to see one in use) and a handmade rake. The next row are cutting tools; axes, adzes, a hatchet, and a hoe. At the bottom is a mattock. Some of the tools would have been used in building log cabins; the mattock was used in clearing roots and small stumps from new ground (i.e., freshly cleared land).

Some of these tools are still used today. Most are "antiques," if they survive. All are part of our heritage.


  1. Fabulous collection of little replicas. A unique way to preserve local history.

  2. Pretty nice carving!!! I had thought that one of those in the top picture, the lard paddle, was what was always known as a "battling stick", a tool to stir laundry in the iron kettle or creek during the washing process. Guess I was wrong. But have you heard that term before?