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The collection was formed by Laurent Adamowicz, who was born and raised in Paris and, while living in the US, became a passionate researcher of antique tools.

He served on the board of several organisations including the Early American Industry Association, dedicated to the study and preservation of ancient trades and tools in the US.

Codes and symbols

For over 20 years, Adamowicz collected ancient tools, researching the codes and symbols with which they have been associated and their relationship to Europe’s history of conflicts, wars, secret societies, and religious and political allegiances. The results were published in his book Codes & Symbols of European Tools, presenting these objects in historical context and by theme rather than by trade classification.

His collection was amassed from all corners of the globe through auctions, private collectors, dealers and estates. It features general woodworking tools (including quantities of planes with varying degrees of decoration) but also tools and equipment for specific tradesmen such as armourers, violin makers, watchmakers, clogmakers and coopers.

Pictured above, with detail, is a 19th century 22in (56cm) long French carpenter’s saw from Bordeaux. It has a handle carved as a rat dressed as a French compagnon, or carpenter’s guild member, and bears a presentation inscription reading Hugron Bordeaux à son ami Roux, Blaye Ste Luce 1869. The estimate is $3000-5000.