1825 Anvil hardy
Provenance: John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection
This anvil hardy is in design a practical tool. An extended piece tapers to a square suitable for securing to most anvils equipped for this type of tool. Once in place, the hardy would be able to withstand the heavy use needed to be a functional component of a blacksmith’s kit. The sharp edge can be used to shape and cut steel during the smithing process, but can also be used for more delicate work. By placing portions of armor against the sharp edge the artist could create the fluting so common in surviving Gothic armors – a practical addition as well as an attractive one, as fluting helped diffuse the force of blows and prevent structural failure for the armor as a whole. As the age of this hardy has been placed at 1825, it is highly likely that it was used in this regard.
Visually, the hardy is in excellent condition. A light patina evenly covers the surface of the metal, yet does not completely eliminate the rich luster of the steel. The steel itself contains several elements of artistry, first and most recognizable being the date (1825) halfway up the shaft, surely shaped by stencil as the lines are so crisp. Opposite this is a simple carved fish, often a religious symbol. But it is the floral motif that crawls up the side of this piece that most draws the eye. Extensive carvings of branch, leaf, and fruit are lovingly detailed on this most practical of smithing tools, an oddity only for those who underestimate humanity’s appreciation for beauty in all things. The décor on a piece such as this is the purest form of artistic expression, made for no accolades or crowds. This was a piece made for the artist themselves, who carved it thusly for the joy of it – nothing more. Be assured that this artifact was made by a master of his craft; surely the reason why it was previously displayed in the John Higgins Armory.