Eric Sloane

Dateline: 12 January 2014

Reaping hooks, as drawn by Eric Sloane.

I have long admired the simple beautiful curve of the early American reaping hook. It is so delicate and precise that I find it nearly impossible to duplicate in a painting, so on several occasions I traced it from an original implement. Yet, to my amazement, all ancient hooks, though hand-forged by different early American farmers from Maine to the southlands, have the same exact, unique curve. This was a case of traditional acceptance, willingness to confess satisfaction, and man's decision to stay with perfection. Such a simple farm tool, in my belief, could be exhibited as fine American art with more meaning and reason for being in an American museum than most of the things you might see there.

—Eric Sloane,
From the book,  Legacy  (1979)


Three classic old reaping hooks that I studied at length, and seriously considered buying, as reported last summer in my blog essay titled,  Agrarian Finds at the Bouckville Antique Extravaganza. The sweep of those blades is truly beautiful. (click to see a larger view) 

1 comment:

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I have never used a reaping hook but used the grass scythe to cut hay and the shorter brush scythe on weeds. I would imagine that the hook was not used on hay but more stout grain plants where you had to bundle the cutting in your arm and lay it aside like the cradle version of a scythe. I enjoy using the long blade, you fly it across the ground and keep it sharp enough to cut ham! Using it give you a lot of time to think, kind of a right brain exercise.