HG AntiqueNEW.J24.jpg

Do you know what this mystery tool, from the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum collection, was used for?

Landis Valley curator Jennifer Royer says its dimensions are: Length, 6.5 inches; width: 4.5 inches; height 7.375 inches.

Send your guess to Mary Ellen Wright at features@lnpnews.com, with “Antique Toolbox” in the subject line, or mail to Mary Ellen Wright / Antique Toolbox, LNP Media Group, P.O. Box 1328, Lancaster, PA 17608-1328.

IMPORTANT: Please include your full name and the town you live in with your guess. Email is preferred because regular mail access is limited due to LNP employees working remotely. Guesses are due by Monday, July 12. We’ll reveal the correct answer in LNP on July 22.


Lots of our readers knew right away what May’s mystery tool, also part of the collection of Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, was used for.

Royer says the tool is a mortising ax from sometime during the period from 1830 to 1843.

It is a specialized ax for cutting mortise pockets to join building timbers, or for cutting holes in fence posts to receive rail ends, Royer says.

Royer adds there is a maker stamp on one side: It is stamped “J. LANDIS,” which is the stamp for Jacob Landis Sr. or his son, John Landis. Both Landises lived in Landis Valley.

The variety of guesses — many of which were quite close to the real use of the tool — shows just how many different kinds of cutting and splitting tools there are.


• Akron: Leon M Brubaker.

• Elizabethtown: Don Stark.

• Lancaster: Frances Keen, Louis G. Zangari.

HG Antique Toolbox OLD TOOL J24.jpg

• Landisville: Rollin Ebersole.

• Leola: John Friel.

• Lititz: C. Darrell Lane.

• Manor Township: Kelly Bortzfield.

• Mount Joy: Benjamin Ebersole, Fred Shoop, Gerald Erb.

• Nazareth: Phil Houck.

• New Holland: Susen Leary.

• North East, Maryland: Phillip Esbenshade.

• Strasburg: Elizabeth Gunnion.

• Terre Hill: Marc Benedict.

• Washington Boro: Paul Wittensoldner.

• Willow Street: Doris Morrison.

BEST GUESSES: Shipwright’s adze; stonemason’s hammer; a froe for splitting wood; a splitting maul or ax; blacksmith swage hammer; ice pick; railroad tie tool; a cattle stunner for slaughtering; a device for cutting and shaping slate.

What to Read Next