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Neighbors of Kane County

27th Annual Antique Tool Show and Sale at Garfield Farm Museum

Jul 30, 2019 11:32AM ● By Hannah Ott

Visitors can look at, purchase and learn about antique tools at Garfield Farm Museum. The public is also invited to bring a tool they cannot identify as many of the collectors will know the answer. (Image via Garfield Farm)

Geneva - Members of the Early American Industries Association (EAIA) and the Mid-West Tools Collectors Association (M-WTCA) will be holding their annual Antique Tool Show and Sale at the Garfield Farm Museum on Sunday, August 4 from 9am-1pm. This is the only joint show by these two organizations in the mid-west open to the public. Typically, over 30 different collectors will have their tools on display and for sale.

Early risers waiting at the gate before 9am have the best chance of finding that one of a kind tool they were looking for while others join the Mid-West Tool Collectors or the Early American Industries Association so they can arrive at 6am as members are only allowed from 6-9am. (Image via Garfield Farm)

Garfield Farm & Inn Museum looks at the settlement era of northern Illinois, that was a time traditions arose around the seasonal cycle of farming. In that spirit, Garfield Farm’s calendar of events has created its own traditions that are approaching nearly 30 years or more in age. The Antique Tool Show is just such an annual tradition paying tribute every first Sunday in August to the craftsmanship and inventiveness of Americans since the 1700s. These collectors value and marvel at the simple hand tools many whose design endured for centuries.

Garfield Farm Museum established this annual show to help educate the public with the realities of America’s founding. Hand tools were what built and shaped America. In the 1840s as factories arose, handcrafted items became massed produced but not in the way mass production is envisioned today. The hand tools that individual craftsmen used simply transitioned to the early factories. Waterpower might have made it possible for a number of lathes to be powered at once but hand tools were used to make any turnings. Blacksmiths were becoming old school in the mid-19th century, as the profession of mechanic became the high tech of its day. Mechanics for the steam age to manufacture as well as maintain locomotives and lake and ocean going steamers needed even more specialized hand tools to produce the precision needed.
Matt Friberg of Rockford demonstrates using a spoke shave in a shaving horse to create smooth rounded edges with square wood stock. (Photo by Joseph Coleman)

Tool and die makers became the top hand tool workers of the 19th and early 20th century. Their inventiveness and skills would create the power tools that society depends upon today. Appropriately, some of the most avid collectors one can meet at the Antique Tool Show are retired highly skilled tool and die makers. Many are the last generation to use hand tools and the first to use computerized machines to make the complex machines of mass production today.

Yet fine craftsmanship has not disappeared as thousands of hobbyists that enjoy working with wood, avidly seek out antique tools. Such tools that might be made of higher quality materials than what can be found on the market today or are no longer made but are still needed to reproduce certain designs or affects in furniture. The Antique Tool Show is thus an opportunity to talk with such experienced individuals who might have worked with the type of tool one purchases.

The public is invited to bring a tool they cannot identify as many of the collectors will know the answer. This is the only joint meeting in Illinois of the EAIA and M-WTCA that the public is invited to attend. Opportunities at the show to become a member of the organizations will give access to their regional and national meetings.
Tours of the 1846 teamster inn and tavern begin at 11am and continue after the show until 4pm. Light refreshments will be available. Admission for adults is $6 and $2 for children 12 years and under. Garfield Farm Museum is a historically intact former prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored by volunteers as a 1840s working farm. The museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. For more information call 630-584-8485 or e-mail or visit our website at

Source: Jerome Johnson 630-584-8485