Thursday, May 18, 2006

Forges - What is is worth?

> I am trying to find out how much a forge runs. My father in North Dakota
> has a small round working forge I believe, that is about the diameter of
> a metal trash can lid. It has sat out under the eaves in front of his
> garage in Fargo for a couple of decades and recently a fellow has come by
> several times offering to buy it from him. He is so persistent that I was
> wondering what the thing is worth.

The current prices for NEW smithing equipment is best researched at the Centaur Forge web site.

What you have is a 'farmers forge' from around the turn of the last century. These were relatively common on larger and more developed farms for fast repairs. (Like modern torches or an arc welder would be). They were sold as kits via the major catalogues - Sears Robuck in the USA, in Canada via Mr Eaton. For about $25 you got a small forge like you describe, a roughly 100 lb anvil and various hand tools. (Note that is is the source for all those smaller hobbist sized anvils now kicking around.)

The current fair price for one will depend on:
exact design
relative rarity in your area

These forges come in roughly two types - an older style with a leaver and ratchet assembly that drives a leather belt to a small blower - and a newer style with a smaller blower with a hand crank. Size of the blower will effect price as well on the second type. There is also a chance that the forge was originally intended for a separate blower .

Loosely, there are two weights of bowls - ones with a heavy cast iron - and those with a thinner stamped sheet bowl. The early leaver forges will always have a heavy cast bowl. Crank blowers may come with either.

The overall condition of any attached blower or mechanical is a big factor in setting price.

In Ontario right now, a separate stamped dish forge in good condition should expect roughly $50. The light dish with small working blower runs roughly $75. Heavy dish may go in the range of $100 - $125, depending on blower and overall size.

Note that the rectangular profile forges with a full cast iron fire box set into them are considerably more.

Rarity in your area will be a big factor as to what is considered 'fair market value'.

I'd also check and see if there is a local chapter of the Artisan Blacksmith Association of North America, ABANA, in your state. They will be able to assist in finding a buyer for you as well as advising on fair pricing. Note that Blacksmiths are notoriously tight with money!

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