Patternmakers and foundry workers have always made copies
of tools in the same manner as glassblowers, who create "end-of-day
pieces" or complicated whimsical examples made with the
sole intention of displaying an individual's skill. Additionally,
the practice was adopted in the foundry to utilize the full
melt of material and create working copies of expensive items
that were beyond the average worker's financial reach. In
some shops, apprentices were required to perform these copying
tasks as a rite of passage on the path to becoming a journeyman.
Making these copies for resale was frowned upon, and the fruits
of this clandestine work remained within the walls of each particular
establishment. The item was always used as the pattern, so
the resulting copy was proportionately smaller, due to the
shrinkage rate of the material used in the pour. Retirees
often received gifts of similar copies that were well embellished
with coworkers' names and engraved inscriptions.
When first examined, this example displayed all the characteristics
of a one-off piece. It was cast of brass or bronze
with rough surfaces and showing many file and grinding marks; no commercially made resale tool would ever have such a poor
finish. There are no identifying markings on this example;
however, something about the utilitarian aspect of the tool
swayed this researcher to undertake a patent search.