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Genevra Kornbluth.
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Last updated
November 12, 2023

Historical Archive: Tools for Building, Agriculture, and Craft Work

Adze, anvil, ascia, augur, barrel, bellows, brick or mortar carrier, bow drill, chisel, crucible, distaff, divider, draw knife, easel, forge, hammer, iron combs, lock, loom, mallets, nails, needle, pincers/pliers/tongs, plane, plub bob, pulley, rope (when prominent), saw, scissors, shears, shovel, spinning wheel, T-square, vise, water carrier, winnowing fan
Axes have their own page, as do Buckets and Ladders.
For nails see also Instruments of the Passion.
Spindle whorls and rods have their own page.
For representations of spindles and distaffs see also spinning and Annunciation.


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miniature tools or weapons, bronze, 1st to 3rd c., BM, 2975+
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easel, divided paint box?: painted sarcophagus from Crimea, late 1st/early 2nd c., Hermitage П.1899-81, which has its own page
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bellows, forge, hammer, pincers, anvil, lock: blacksmith shop from area of Beligna, late 1st-early 2nd century, limestone, ANAM. For detail see ANAM.
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T-square, hammer, chisel, saw, ascia (adze-plane), bow dill, plane: man w. workers building a ship, Dedalius gold-glass fr. cemetery Giordani on via Salaria, 4th c., Vat 60788.2.1
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hammer, tongs, anvil: Christian gravestone of blacksmith Flavius Saturninus, marble, 4th-5th c., fr. area San Martino di Terzo, Terzo d'Aquileia, ANAM. For full work see ANAM.
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draw knife, adze, sickel, pliers, hammer, shears: Szilágy Somlyó amulet chain, gold/rock crystal, prob. c.400-50, poss. late 4th c., KHM VIIb 1. The Szilágy Somlyó treasure has its own page with ox yoke.
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scissors from Rhenen, Merovingian, Leiden
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needle and spindle rods from Dorestad, bone, Carolingian, Leiden
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smoothing board? 9th-10th c. whalebone, fr. Grytøy, Trondenes, Bergen
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rope: Veroli Casket, ivory and bone, mid to late 10th c., V&A 216-1865. This work has its own page with more rope.
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rope: gold altar frontal, early 11th c., Aachen cathedral. The altar and cathedral have their own pages.
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rope: imprisonment of John, Bernward Column, Hildesheim, c. 1020, bronze, which has its own page
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pliers: deposition, ivory, 12th c. north Italy, inscription prob. 14th c., HildMus DS11. For other views see HildMus.
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pulley: Talismanic brass plaque, prob. Egypt 12th-15th c.: demon, symbols, nonsense inscription. BM
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iron combs (textile, used for torture): Abdinghof portable altar, 1115-30, DMP PR50, which has its own page
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pliers: ivory cross, c.1150-60, Cloisters 63.12, which has its own page.
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Christ with winnowing fan, copper gilt, Cologne 1150-60, Schn G578
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tongs: Novgorod cathedral doors, bronze, prob. 1152-54. The doors have their own page.
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tongs, burin, crucible: Novgorod cathedral doors, bronze, prob. 1152-54. The doors have their own page.
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hammer, tongs, crucible: Novgorod cathedral doors, bronze, prob. 1152-54. The doors have their own page.
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hammer, nails, tongs: Nerezi Lamentation, 1164, which has its own page
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hammer, tongs, anvil, bellows: portal from Hylestad stave church, late 12th-early 13th c., OHM C4321, which has its own page with another anvil
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barrel or cask: portal sculpture early 13th c., Pisa baptistery, which has its own page, in cathedral complex
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mallets, chisel, plub bob, divider (top): Chartres cathedral, ambulatory windows 1220-25. For more tools on this window, and other views, see Chartres.
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crucible: damned forced to drink (liquid gold?) from a long-handled crucible, Last Judgment mosaic c.1240-1310, Baptistery of St. John, Florence. This work has its own pages.
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hammer, anvil: St. Eloi (Eligius), horse, pilgrim giving a trindle (coiled candle), late 13th c., lead alloy, MoL 87.14/2
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hammer: Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux, Jean Pucelle c.1324-28, Met 54.1.2, which has its own page.
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saw: Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Good and Bad Government 1338-40, Siena, which has its own page with yoke (Superbia)
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pulleys, brick and mortar carriers, trowel: Tower of Babel, Baptistery, cathedral of Padua, 1376 frescoes: Giusto de' Menabuoi. This work has its own pages.
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hammers, chisel, shovel, water carrier: Tower of Babel, Baptistery, cathedral of Padua, 1376 frescoes: Giusto de' Menabuoi. This work has its own pages.
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vise, iron, 15th c. Germany, PMA 1931-30-38a. For other views see PMA.
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nails, pincers, hammer, rope: Man of Sorrows w. instruments Passion, Niccolo di Pietro Gerini c.1405-06, tempera/panel fr Santissima Annunziata, Florence: Arezzo MS
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carpenter's plane: Ring of Jean sans Peur, Paris c.1410, Louvre OA 9524, which has its own page.
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augur, pincers, hammer: Man of Sorrows from St. Nicholas church in Brzeg (Brieg), Wrocław 1443, MNW Śr. 343. This work has its own page with hatchet, nails.
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hammers, saw, stained glass windows: Goro di Bartolomeo, Leonardo di Bartolomeo, Bartolommeo d'Andrea Bocchi 1453-54, Pisa cathedral, which has its own pages
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rope: St. Sebastian, silver, Germany late 15th c., KGM F 1277 m
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pliers, nails (upper left): Crucifixion and Instruments of the Passion, copper alloy hat badge, late 15th c., MoL 82.8/8
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tanner's knives on shield: "House of Abraham," Sens, 16th c., which has its own page
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bellows: St. Genevieve, limestone, school of Troyes, c.1500-25, Reims MSR D.978.31016. For other views see Reims.
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easel: St. Luke painting Virgin fr. church St. Mary Magdalene Wrocław, limewood c.1506, Jakob Beinhart (fl. Wrocław 1483-1525), MNW Śr. 15. This work has its own page.
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distaff: Hercules and Omphale, François Boucher 1732-34, Pushkin Ж 2764
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spinning wheel, 19th c., MAHSD
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bellows from G. Woodman smithy, leather/iron 1898, Ewell. For other views see Ewell.
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Sami vetical loom fr Olderdalen, Lyngen (north Norway), prob. 20th c., Bergen x. 135.00a