Lee Valley & Veritas Gardening
Lee Valley 35 Years  
  Volume 8, Issue 6 - June 2013    
What Is It?
What Is It?
Many readers will recognize this item as a billhook, a traditional European hedge tool that's useful for removing small brush and weeds. In Europe, billhooks have a long history of use as agricultural tools and as weapons. In fact, the expert consulted for this article, Mr. Bob Burgess, noted that the history of the billhook in Britain predates the Roman conquest
(AD 43).

Billhooks come in an extensive variety of shapes, traditionally dictated by regional preference. Determining where this example is from, however, proves tricky. It's difficult to determine the handle wood, which would provide a valuable clue as to origin. The rivets on the handle appear to have been hand peened, indicating it was user made rather than factory made. Mr. Burgess noted that rivetted handles are commonly found on Italian and German billhooks, but less so on English and French ones. He also noted that the bulbous handle shape is not typical of any particular country. A further twist: considering its overly curved, rather short blade (3-1/2"), Mr. Burgess said that it's possible this item was in fact a pruning hook or possibly even a basket maker's tool.
What Is It?
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