Tool collector Jim Goodson runs his hand lovingly over a 1762 Swedish brace (drill) embossed with Masonic symbolism and smiles.
"Each of the tools in my collection represents the application of an owner's artistic touch," Jim notes. "These applications relate beliefs, thoughts, whimsy and other messages of the time which still remain intact to this day often hundreds of years beyond their conception. On occasion, they may even suggest a message left behind for those aware enough to decode the clues."
Jim has been collecting for over 30 years, and his collection covers the ages of man.
"My oldest tool is a tiny bronze chisel from c. 1200-800 BC," he notes, "while arguably my most unique tool is a bronze saw blade dating from the early iron age. I have to say that my greatest find would likely be a mid 17th century Cooper’s jointer dated 1653. These were used to shave true the edges of barrel staves before standing (assembling) the pieces into their finished form."
Asked why craftsmen from long ago would go to the trouble of decorating what are, after all, simply utilitarian instruments, Jim says earnestly, "Many early European tools were decorated in celebration of their capabilities as well as to symbolically display a pride of ownership. These pieces brought a little beauty into the demands of the workday and often gave expression to the owner’s capabilities for using them which did not go unnoticed by the clients he pursued and contracted for."
Kerr Arts & Culture Center (KACC) Executive Director Debbie Minns is enthusiastic. "When we heard about Jim's collection we knew that it was our responsibility to bring this spectacular collection to the attention of the community. They really are things of beauty. Most are by nature common folk art... one of the purest and simplest forms of self expression. Some of the most common are Religious Symbols including crosses, symbols (IHS, MARIA etc.), clusters of three arrows representing either ‘The Father, Son and Holy Ghost’ or the nails used to affix Jesus to the cross (several other interpretations exist as well). Also very popular were chip carving designs, relief carvings, dates, flowers, animal figures and figural shaping in general."
Jim Goodson is the Director of the Midwest Tool Collectors Association and a Contributing Editor to the Association's quarterly publication "Gristmill." Jim's tool collection will be on display for a special show at KACC in downtown Kerrville running from December 1-4, with a talk by Jim on Sunday December 4th at 2 p.m. Visitors to the tool collection show will also be able to enjoy the spectacular twelfth annual Furniture Show, which KACC is hosting from November 10th through December 10th. For more information please call 830-895-2911 or visit www.kacckerrville.com.