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Gleaning info from CCC stamped Axes

Estimating the age of American made axes can quite often be difficult, but on occasion users, not just the makers, of those axes leave us clues that can be helpful in narrowing down the manufacturing or usage date of the tool. One such user mark is the typical “CCC” stamp of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC was created by the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt and was signed into being on April 5th, 1933. The Corps would provide hope to thousands of out of work young men, assist them with developing trade skill, provide an income for starving families, and help develop the infrastructure of the United States, all during the impoverished times of the Great Depression. Being run by the US Government, partially under the umbrella of the military, alignment of troops and marking of equipment was standardized, and due to this standardization, highly trackable. The standard markings of CCC used axes and other tools typically involve the letters “CCC” stamped into the metal or carved into wooden handles. Along with this trio are often additional letters and numbers. Letters often represent abbreviations of the department the troop was in, and numbers added to these often indicated which troop the tool would have been issued to. For example, an axe marked CCC SCS-38 would have come from Soil Conservation Troop 38 as SCS was the CCC abbreviation for a soil conservation troop. Unfortunately there is some overlap as some troop designations were present in multiple states. For example, there was a troop F-1 (National Forest Troop 1) in a number of states. Company numbers were only used for one company, however, so they are distinct, and will be found as a separate number suck as 1211 or 634. List of the companies, their locations, their establishment dates, and their designations are well recorded and can be found at a number of sites, though I find to be extremely useful. Operations of the CCC were officially ended on June 30, 1942, so it’s reasonable to assume any axe stamped as such was manufactured prior to that date. However, axes used by the CCC may have been manufactured prior to the advent of the Corps in 1933. Axes with markings showing that they were manufactured prior to this date have been found marked with “CCC”, showing that previously made tools were cold stamped after they were brought into the use of the CCC. For example, the pictures attached showing the brush axe stamped “Kelly Axe & Tool Co.”, as well as the “CCC” stamp, would have been manufactured prior to July of 1930, as that is when the Kelly Axe and Tool Company merged with the American Fork and Hoe Company, and tools forged after this merger would be marked with “Kell Axe and Tool Works” or simply “Kelly Works”. Likewise, the presence of the FS likely indicated that this tool was liquidated to the U.S. Forest Service after the ending of the CCC in 1942. Along with, I have found Harley E. Jolley’s book, “That Magnificent Army of Youth and Peace” to be entertaining and highly educational in learning more about the markings on CCC tools as well as the way the CCC was organized in my home state of N.C.

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