COLLECTION: Tools & Equipment

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Beak Horn Pointed Nose Stake

1750-1820
Origin: England or America
OH: 14" OL: 27 1/4" Taper of beak: 1 3/4"-1/4" Flat flange: 10" x 2"
Iron / steel
Gift of Judith and William McMillen
Acc. No. 2012-30
"Beak horn" stake. One flange is flat-topped with one square corner, the other beveled. Round-sectioned & tapered "beak" with a pointed end. Squared, tapering post corners.
Label:This tool had a myriad of uses, limited only by the various shapes of its working surfaces. With a heavy integral post, stakes were set into square holes in either workbenches or tree stumps, and functioned much like blacksmith's anvils.

Nicknamed a "beak horn" stake for its appearance, the beak end was used to shape a piece of tin into a rounded shape, like the cylindrical body of a mug or its gracefully curved handle. The beak's pointed end could be used for forming the end of a cone, or perhaps the spout of a funnel.

Opposite the beak is a flat-topped flange which was used to create right angle bends or folds on one of its sides. The other is wedge shaped, and was meant to be used to work the edge of the tin back on itself, perhaps in preparation for a "lock seam."

Its post exhibits a prominent fold, and the forged joint of the stake's three components is plainly visible.

As a modern screw driver can also be used to open a can of paint, these early tools were used for other, less obvious purposes by the highly creative and artistic tinsmiths that made their livelihoods using them.