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JOEL Joel's Blog

Eric Sloane


My old copy of
My old copy of "Museum" with some of the miniature tools I made back when

If I had to point the most important influence in my lifetime's involvement with woodworking tools, I would have to credit Eric Sloane's trilogy, "A Museum of Early American Tools," "A Reverence for Wood" and "Diary of an Early American Boy." When I was a kid, practical history and craft always interested me, but at some point (I don't remember when or how) I ended up with a softbound copy of "A Museum of Early American Tools.” Before I knew it, I was making my first tools. I must have been in my early teens.

My original copy of the book disintegrated, but I still find the content deeply engaging. I’ve accumulated a lot of tools and inevitably a lot of books on the subject of tools. But no matter how many books I have, these three volumes are the foundation of my collection. “Museum” introduced me hand tools and how useful they could be. “Reverence for Wood” taught me about wood, and "Diary of an Early American Boy" provided the context and story.

I don’t remember if the books were considered “Young Adult” or regular adult selections when I first read them. I do know that nowadays any book with so many wonderful drawings could easily be looked down upon by adults. But I think that is unfair. Even with all the work I have done learning about tools, I still enjoy the Sloane books. They are so well put together, give craft and tools context, and are so nice to look at.

For years the books went in and out of print. During this time I was happy to have my much loved, dog-geared paperback copies. Imagine my surprise when noodling around on eBay I found a newish 1960's vintage boxed set of the trio. Of course I had to have it.

I was thrilled to have the box set -- and inspired to see if we could make the books available again. We previously offered only the softcover edition of “Museum” but I made some phone calls to get copies of “Reverence” and “Diary” too. I was very excited to learn that “Museum” is now available in HARDCOVER and “Reverence” and “Diary” have been reprinted in their original size (trade paperback). I immediately bought supplies.

So we are proud to offer this trilogy. I can’t promise that these books will have the same life-changing effect upon you that they did on me, but I do feel safe promising a fascinating read.

Eric Sloane 2
Join the conversation
04/04/2019 Brad White
Thanks for this tribute, Joel, I had nearly forgotten about those books.

They were new to me in my teen years (early 1970's) and were so rich in detail, inspiring my own -modest- tool collection and use of same. "Back to the land and self-sufficiency" was my mantra back then and it was sustaining. My dad noted what an excellent drafter Sloane was and that furthered my career along a different path. These books were seeds of imagination to me, to tell a story well, in any language.

You brought a lot back just now.
04/04/2019 Mark Holderman
Eric Sloane was also a famous painter as I discovered when I researched two paintings I had inherited from my great uncle Russell Holderman, a pioneer airplane pilot. The two paintings of skiers on snow covered scenes fetched $5,000 at auction. His paintings often auction for tens of thousands of dollars, and you can see a sample of his aircraft in flight paintings on a huge mural in the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.
04/04/2019 Kerry Jordan
Thanks for this! My parents gave me a hardback of this trilogy when in my teens (1970's) and just getting into woodwork. They were a look into a world unknown to me and instrumental in my picking up hand tool woodworking as I am sure they have been to many others. Roy Underhill also credits Eric Sloane for helping to preserve much of what would otherwise have been a lost heritage. Thanks so much for making these works available to help inspire and inform!!
04/05/2019 Eric Monasterio
The Eric Sloane Museum in Kent, CT is a wonderful place for any fan of his. As a bonus; it neighbors the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association which is also a very wonderful place.
Thanks Joel, they had a profound effect on me too.
04/05/2019 Rev. Mary Bettencourt
I, too, have read Sloane’s books. Love ‘em! Reviewing them now and then is good for my soul.....that and turning useful objects for around the house and shop, and for giving to others.
04/06/2019 Robert Peterson
I had numerous copies of Reverence over the years but gave them away to woodworking friends. Thought I still had a copy for myself but it seems to have disappeared. I hope it will be available again. Great book
04/20/2019 Gregory Stoddard
Mortise and Tenon Magazine did a very nice long article in issue#5. I met Sloane and worked on one of his houses in 1966. I was a harrum-scarrum kid then and I remember him looking like Andy Rooney on 60 minutes. I looked up his dates, he was 61 then! A great artist and a great man.
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