Early Hand Tools & Farm Implements
Carved Wood | Wrought Iron | Cast Steel
Currently on View in the Museum Galleries
During the 18th and 19th centuries, in pre-industrial society, work was accomplished with hand-made tools and personal muscle power. The tools in this exhibition represent the agriculturally-based economy of Columbia County and every day tasks and chores of its rural inhabitants. Family members worked together at a variety of chores to ensure the success of running a farm or family business that included agricultural production, food preparation, household care and animal husbandry. Beyond the function of each of these tools, there is a beauty in their form and manipulation of materials. These historic objects--primarily tools of farming--are part of Columbia County's material culture.
"...and here was wood formed into a special kind of
tactile sculpture made to be felt with the hand."
-- Christian Barman from Oxford History of Technology, N.D.
Many 19th century tools required only the strength of the human hand, the power of a horse, or simple gravity. Representing an era on the cusp of mechanization and modernization, and spanning all aspects of life in Columbia County during this era, these tools—with designs often centuries old—performed a distinct variety of tasks from farming, to ice harvesting, carpentry and blacksmithing.
These objects, all found in barns from Columbia County, were essential equipment for everyday life in the 19th century. Today, these are relics of the past, symbolic of sincerity, integrity and excellence of the handmade, of historic and sustainable materials, and a reverence for wood, (namely hickory, ash, elm, oak, willow and beech). Their owners displayed profound care in an effort to maintain their function, often revealing repairs over time.
This exhibition is made possible by the generosity of
Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation
Susan & Henry Livingston
Nora & Jim Tuttle
Tom & Mila Tuttle