The Wooden Clamp Journal, or WCJ

Issue Four, 30 Sept 1997
Dedicated to those
who love, use, collect, or deal in wooden clamps

L a s t Issue ..... N e x t Issue .....

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Editorial Comments

This is our fourth issue of the Journal. Mainly, I'd like to discuss prices, and report on Brimfield.

There have been some changes: I've pulled sections that hadn't been filled in three issues, and I've moved some stuff to the home page.

Please mail your ideas or suggestions about what you want to read.

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Report on Brimfield

Short version = Had a good time!

I finally closed a deal that was 3 or 4 years in the making. It was that long ago that I introduced myself to a dealer, and he mentioned that Sargent made clamps. He knew, because he had one. I said that I would be interested in seeing it, with an eye to purchasing it.

Well, we missed each other, he forgot to pack it, he had it but couldn't find it, and on and on. This year, he called, "will you be there?" and every one agreed on the time and place.  When I eventually saw it, I did decide to buy it, and soon its picture will grace the site.

Otherwise, things went well. I picked up a Shaker-made clamp, which I will get around to comparing to others. And minor holes in the collection got filled.

I got one clamp at Brimfield that is a puzzler. There is no maker's mark. The owner is J. Fonda. Each end carries the number 11, but in an unusual form. The vertical part of the 1 is wide, but the base, and the head, are very thin lines. It looks elaborate for an owner to mark his clamp, but no maker is known (to me) to use such a font.

Clamps seemed to be very plentiful this time, with very little "what the heck" pricing. Dealers seemed to know the prices that others were setting, although prices were up quite a bit from May.

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Advice and Tips for Collectors and Users

Based on the mail, the talk this issue is about prices, and price shifts since Spring.  The usual advice applies - if you see it, and you like it, buy it now, because the price will probably go up next year.  

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Descriptions of Clamps

The Field Guide, Makers of Wooden Clamps, and Makers of Composite Clamps, have been revised to include more graphics, and more descriptions.

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Histories of Makers, and Owners

I have extensively revised the Makers page this summer.  I found a new maker, Greenfield Tool Company, of Greenfield MA.  (I should have found it earlier, except I was mis-led by the title on the catalog.)  They seem to have been in business for a couple decades, so I can hope that an example may come to light.  

I have also introduced a Models page, with measurements of various models. It will take a while to fill this out.

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Questions, Answers, Speculations

Q: What's a good price for my clamp?

A: Well, it depends. I like to do a pricing analysis based on my experiences at Brimfield. It gives me a chance to see lots of clamps, all at one time, and under fairly comparable conditions. However, I have to recognize that some are general dealers mostly selling users, some are selling lookers, some are tool dealers trying to sell to collectors, so there are several "markets" going on all at once.

Two things seem to determine the price: size, and looks. Scarcity is not a factor (probably because scarcity is unknown). Married clamps sell the same as un-married (probably because the condition is not noticed).

Cut to the chase - what's a good price for a 20 inch user? Let's look at some numbers, typical of September 1997: 6 inches, 7$, 10$; 8 inches, 13$, 14$; 10 inches, 12$, 15$ (twice), 16$, 20$ (three times); 12 inches, 13$, 15$ (twice), 16$, 25$; 14 inches, 15$, 19$ (twice), 20$ (twice); 16 inches, 20$, 28$, 30$ (twice); 18 inches, 18$, 40$; 20 inches, 25$ (twice); 22 inches, 23$, 25$ (twice), 26$, 30$, 40$

If you plot these, the pattern may be more apparent. What I see is that

  1. the prices tend to cluster around the line $ = 1.5 X inches; and
  2. the higher prices often seem to be multiples of 5$ and 10$; and
  3. there can be a 2 to 1 spread between highest and lowest prices.

(The coefficient in the equation is chosen for ease of use, rather than for very close fit.)

So, a 20 incher would be expected to be about 30$, give or take depending on condition.

The same pattern held true in May, except that then the line was $ = 1 X inches, and the multiples were more 5$ than 10$.

The spread depends mostly on condition or looks. All these clamps were in fair working order or better, but some were dinged, grimy, or damaged to great or less degree, while others were cleaned up and polished.  I didn't see any really broken ones.  

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Letters to the Editor

The correspondence has been mostly about pricing of individual clamps. I thought that I would not reproduce all the email, but would summarize some things in the Questions and Answers section.

Editorial Policy will be to print all letters, edited for length, relevance, or offense.

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