There is no way to know where or when this True Temper Kelly Perfect # 32 double bit edge axe head was forged. The company existed under this name from the mid 1900’s in Charleston WV and then to Cleveland OH until the company split it’s assets and name in 1987. It does not much matter. What does is it’s permanence.
In an era where technology – many a ‘durable’ good – are marketed to us in 6-12 month retail cycles, each new release making the previous made to feel inferior, and soon obsolete, this 3 Lbs 4.8 Ozs of steel has, from it’s very conception, been engineered and was brought to market with an essence completely counter to many of today’s concepts. Craftsmanship is still alive and can be found today in the marketplace. But both private and public ventures are bound to bottom lines, measured and forecasted in four month cycles, honor-bound to make their projections, mandated to cut costs, required to move units, and expand markets. The result: we are being sold more things and being sold them more often, in shorter intervals. In today’s business culture, quality and durability are still virtues marketed to us, but the notion of buying a product built so well and straightforward as to only buy one in your life, and maintain it, is becoming rare in both the intention of the seller and in the desire of the buyer.
We have not the patience, the attention, nor the intention for such commitments in today’s industry or in ownership. Outside of perhaps a wedding ring, the aesthetics of quiet permanence, of age, and of lasting utility have little place in our closets nor our business models. What will be the heirlooms we leave to our children that we will have created in our lives? I’d like those here next to know me by something more meaningful and personal than an iPhone, Pottery Barn plates or the digital camera that will be so utterly obsolete it’s mere appearance may be unrecognizable to the next generation.
This axe afforded me a lesson on these ideas, of maintenance, of permanence, and in “getting the hang if it” . After late nights of reading “An Axe To Grind” I convinced myself I should know how to hang an axe. I aquired a new hickory haft and spent and evening in the cellar bringing this axe back into service. Stained, oiled, and sharpened (enough to draw blood, my index finger found out), and it once again is a purposeful object, ready to help fill the woodbox at the cabin next fall. And with a little patience and attention – it may continue to last until the next generation. That is more than I can say for many things in my closet on my shelves.
Other thoughts on this topic can be learned from reading this interview.