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Vintage 1920's R. King NYSDPW Hatchet

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I purchased this vintage hatchet from a man in Webster, New York. It was gifted to him from his uncle who had ties to the NYSDPW in the 1920's. The head is branded with the R. King stamp. The full stamps reads "R. King - Cast Steel - Made in the United State." I've taken the time to refurbish this piece of history. I've removed rust from the head and I've hand sharpened the blade. The handle has been painted and stained.


On the back side of the head you'll see another engraving: NYSDPW - this stands for the New York State Department of Public Works. The office of Superintendent of Public Works was created by an 1876 amendment to the New York State Constitution. In 1967, the Department of Public Works was merged with other departments into the new New York State Department of Transportation.

The name KING appears as axe stampings and on numerous axe labels, usually in conjunction with some other name or word such as Forest, Northern, Ohio and so on suggesting that the axe in question was the best. There was also an axe manufacturer in Maine named John King that included his name on labels but the earliest known manufactured axes bearing the name were marked R. King. Those markings and labels included the location Canton, Connecticut. It was a brand used initially by Collins & Company of Canton, Connecticut. That company changed names and became The Collins Company of Collinsville, CT. Collinsville was originally a section of Canton. It is possible that R. King worked for the Collins Company but more probably the name was arbitrary and had a different connotation such as "Our" King. Whatever the case the brand R. KING was used by the Collins Company in the early 1830s and perhaps even earlier. They continued to use the name as a brand on a paper label well into the twentieth century.

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