Haines Hammer Museum adds 1,600 tools to its collection

Inside the Haines Hammer Museum. (Claire Stremple/KHNS)

The Haines Hammer Museum is well-stocked with hammers. There are over 2,000 tools in their collection — and the number nearly doubled when a barge arrived Thursday with 1,600 new specimens.

The museum may be closed for the season, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping busy. When doors reopen this May, their collection will be nearly twice the size. Museum founder Dave Pahl opened the Hammer Museum in 2002. It is the world’s first museum dedicated to the history of the hammer.

“Well our non-profit hammer museum has just received an awesome, awesome collection from a longtime hammer collector in Mesa, Arizona, ” he said.

When Arizona hammer collector Jim Mau died, his wife donated their entire hammer collection to the Hammer Museum. The Mau collection isn’t just hammers either. It took Pahl, his wife Carol, and the Hammer Museum board all day to unload all the archival material that came with the new hammers.

“It’s a lot,” Pahl said with a laugh. “If it was firewood, there’d be at least half a cord there. So we’re busy!”

It took 8 days to pack the hammers in crates for shipping. The Pahl’s put five thousand pounds of hammers on a truck from Mesa, Arizona to Seattle, Washington. The hammers made the last leg of the journey by barge.

“We were on pins and needles hoping that everything was surviving the trip alright,” Pahl said. “And  it got here just as we packed it five weeks ago!”

The trip wasn’t cheap—it cost about $5,000 to get the hammers to Haines. That may seem like a lot of of trouble for a bunch of old hammers. But spend a few minutes talking to Pahl and you’ll learn these aren’t just tools, they’re a window into history.

Dave Pahl with one of his historic hammers. (Claire Stremple/KHNS)

“This is cheesemaker’s tool. You are able to withdraw a sample to check the quality of the cheese …” Pahl held up a long-handled hammer with a tiny head. The handle is concave; made to pull a sample out of a wheel of cheese for a quality check.

“And then there’s a little hammer on the top, so you can close the crate back up after you’ve had your snack. There’s a hammer for every trade imaginable.”

Many of the new hammers from the Mau collection are Maydole hammers, named after the blacksmith who designed them at the turn of the century.

“David Maydole in 1840 invented the wedges for securing the hammer head to the hammer like we still do today,” explained Pahl. “He is memorialized among tool collectors as one of the captains of industry.”

Maydole never got a patent for his invention, but his New York manufacturing company was once the nation’s largest.

The new hammers are in storage at the Fort Seward barracks until they are processed and added to the museum. The Hammer Museum is located on Main Street, across from the Sheldon Art Museum. Entry is free for locals. The Museum is closed for the season but will reopen in May.

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