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Hummel, Charles F. / "English Tools in America: The Evidence of the Dominys" from Winterthur Portfolio
(Winter 1965)

English tools in America: the evidence of the Dominys,   pp. 27-36 PDF (3.2 MB)


Page 36

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Fig. 5 Reconstruction of
Dominy Woodworking Shop
at Winterthur, 1960.
The scarcity of cash in the local economy also forced the Dominys to obtain
tools from metalworkers in East Hampton as payment in kind for debts."
In 1957 the Winterthur Museum began to acquire the first group of
tools, manuscript accounts, and products of the Dominys. The wood-
working shop and the clock shop used by these craftsmen were recon-
structed with the encouragement of Henry Francis du Pont, Henry Belin
du Pont, and members of the Dominy family. They now display the
original tools and equipment used in them from the mid-eighteenth to the
mid-nineteenth centuries. The shops had remained intact until 1946, when
the Dominy house was destroyed and the shops moved and converted to
other uses (Fig. 5).
The origin of many tools used by the Dominys cannot be determined,
but a number of them are marked and further document the sale of English
tools in America. Although the catalogue below includes only English
tools used in East Hampton, it presents types used by many American
contemporaries of the Dominys. Most of the tools bear the names or
symbols of English manufacturers and can be traced to Sheffield. John
Bebbington, City Librarian and Information Officer, Sheffield City Li-
braries, aided this research by completing a file in the Winterthur Library
of every Sheffield city directory published before 1873. The number of
Sheffield firms represented in the Dominy tools may reflect a preference
by merchants in New York for tools made in Sheffield, or the accident of
survival. Most of the tools which can be identified date from the nineteenth
century. This circumstance is readily explained. When Felix Dominy began
his career about 1817, many of the tools his father and grandfather had
purchased to equip the shops were worn and in need of replacement. Felix
Dominy may have purchased English tools because he could obtain them
easily or, like many of his predecessors and contemporaries, he may have
selected them purposely. He owned tools stamped WELDON, and even
if he did not know the slogan of Cutler and Company of Sheffield, he may
have endorsed its products because: "It is well known that a great pro-
portion of Tools are manufactured Only to Sell; and an Infallible Truth,
That those are the Cheapest which do the most Work."
' Account Book B, Nathaniel Dominy (1764-1813), East Hampton, New York, pp. 100-102, 105
(DMMC, 59x9a).
WINTERTHUR PORTFOLIO II
36


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