Saturday, November 30, 2013

Antique Jeweler's Vise

OK you guys - this is THE coolest.

antique jeweler's vise with attachments and magnifier

But you can't even begin to understand how cool it is without knowing the whole story!

Back when I was as young as 3, we would visit my Grandparents in Birmingham, AL, and I remember being fascinating with this doorstop my grandfather used to prop open the door to his study:

antique doorstop?

This shiny silver "doorstop" sat in a black rubber ring, was far too heavy to lift, but was irresistible! It spins in the rubber base, and we were not allowed to touch it, so, naturally, I would spin it and push it and fiddle with it until I got caught and yelled at. And then I would find a way to sneak back to it - forbidden fruit, you know. And of course, I would often stub my toes on it as I ran barefoot through the house!

I know I asked what it was, and got all sorts of non-sensical (to me, anyway) answers.

So imagine my surprise and delight when my Dad came to visit this week for Thanksgiving, telling me he had a jeweler's vise for me, and I opened the box to find my old nemesis, the doorstop, now with all it's attachments!

Elson antique jeweler's vise

This is the base, in it's rubber stand, with the chuck key attached, and the bases for the attachment in place on top. The brand is Elson, and a previous owner has engraved each piece with "L.M." It weighs 25-30 lbs. Very heavy!

The 2 attachments shown here also swivel 360 degrees, and hold all the smaller attachments. What with the base swiveling AND the attachments swiveling, and all the possible locations to place each attachment, you have an infinite variety of ways to position this vise for any project!

These are the attachments - after all this time, only one is missing:

 Elson jeweler's vise attachments

And this is the little magnifier:
swiveling magnifier

Here's a pic with a couple of the bracelet-holding attachments in place:

Elson vise with attachments

My Dad remember that HIS father got this at an estate sale when my Dad was maybe 5 years old, and it was all rusty when his father brought it home. They cleaned it up, put in to use as a doorstop, and obviously stored all the parts pretty carefully. We figure it is easily 100 years old!

At dinner tonight, I asked my Dad why I was not allowed to play with it, and why I kept getting yelled at for spinning it and fiddling with it - were they afraid I was going to break it, or what? Dad says, "No, you knucklehead, we were afraid you'd roll it off onto your hand or your foot." LOL.

I am thrilled with my new vise, but have completely failed at trying to find out anything about it. I found an antique Elson Watchmaker's Lathe on Ebay, but it looks nothing like this vise. And it is priced at $2500.00!

If anyone has ANY information about my "new" antique Elson jeweler's vise, please share! Thanks!


BackstoryBeads said...

Great story! The original owner was probably a jeweler of some type, then it was re-purposed for so many years, and now it's back in the hands of an artisan! How cool is that??? said...

Now that is a really cool story - looks like an engraving vise but it all depends on what you want to use it for - gosh even if you never use it - a really truly inspiring piece of family history

Coffield said...

Yep, it's an engraving ball (vise).
Join the Engraver's Cafe and post it in the buy/sell section for a quick sale. Probably worth 200+. How much it weighs is critical, the more the merrier!