Thank you to Gail Ann Levis who is the historian at
Modern Woodmen of America in Rock Island, Illinois.
She provided copies of articles about the Foresters
and patiently answered my questions. The winning
bidder gets the copies along with the ax.
If you or someone you love is an MWA collector, here's
a great Forester item, ready to display. And how often
do you get a chance to give somebody the ax -- or get
the ax -- and enjoy it.
For those who don't know about the Foresters, they were
the drill team members of the fraternal order
"Modern Woodmen of America."
They marched in parades all over America from 1890 into
the early 1930s.
Since they were Woodmen, they used axes in their drill
routines instead of batons, rifles or flags.
I'd sure love to see a video of them in action!
You can read more about them on the MWA Internet site
Their popularity skyrocketed after the Saint Louis
World's Fair of 1904, but many skilled drill teams were
broken up by the Great War, and the new teams developed
after the war finally disbanded during the Great Depression.
This ax was specifically made for carrying in a parade.
It looks like a normal single-bit camp ax, but it's not.
The new metal "aluminium" was used for the unsharpened
head and a light hard wood was used for the handle and
stained to look like hickory.
"MWA" is cast into the head in stylized logs.
This full-size ax weighs one pound!
(Less than 500 grams!)
I've never seen anything else like it, so I can't give a
comparative idea of its condition. If it were made last
year then I would say it was in good to very good shape,
but it wasn't made last year. It may be over a hundred
years old! I looked at it several times at a flea market
before picking it up to read the marking on the head,
then I nearly knocked over a shelf full of art pottery
as the ax is so light it seemed to come up by itself.
Now that I know about the Foresters and their precision
drill teams, I can imagine them flipping and tossing and
twirling axes just like this one as they marched in parades.
Own a piece of American history, in time for Christmas.
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