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Passion or Obsession? Frankie Tack’s Vintage Hammer Collection


Passion or Obsession?
Frankie Tack’s Vintage Hammer Collection 
EVL Spring 2023

As part of Art in the Libraries’ series of exhibits of personal collections,  Frankie Tack, Clinical Associate Professor in Counseling and Well-Being, shares a selection of the most common tool in the world, the hammer. Tack’s collection of over 100 hammers ranges from a pre-colonial Native American hammer stone to hammers used by jewelers, cobblers, coopers, clockmakers, blacksmiths, masons, shipwrights, farriers, and even cigar smokers and, of course, an array of standard claw hammers from the 19th century to present.

The collection began when Tack came into possession of her father-in-law’s tools after his death. He was a farmer and a loom fixer in textiles when we still had those plants in the U.S. The collection, she soon found, also included his father’s tools. 

“That man had been a carpenter and actually built the house that my wife grew up in,” said Tack. “ His tools were amazing and knowing that they built the family home was priceless. I was hooked!”

Tack continued: “The hammers hold so much visual history: you can see the crafting and pounding they were used for, the little accidents, the repairs, and the personalization (carved initials, names, or a hand grip). The wood is amazing. They built and sustained America. And there are so many types, from those we still use today, such as the standard hammer to drive a nail, ball peen hammers, and roofing hammers, to types rarely now needed, such as cobbler’s hammers and blacksmithing hammers. My main sources are antiques stores, estate auctions, and “junk” stores.”

Learn more about the history of the humble hammer