What is this?
Side axe belonging to Jacob Sibley
When is it from?
Late 18th century.
Why is it Important?
Jacob Sibley was no stranger to flying chips and the smell of new-cut wood. Born in Union, ME in 1746, at the age of 18 he helped build the first bridge across the Winnipiseogee River and later hewed a homestead out of the wilderness of Hopkinton, NH. During the Revolution, he helped build Fort Constitution in Portsmouth, NH. In 1795 he headed south to work on another Constitution, then being built in Hartt’s Shipyard in Boston’s North End. Family tradition says that Sibley used this axe to shape timbers for the ship. If that is the case, this may be among the only tools still in existence that helped craft that venerable frigate.
Forged iron axe head with an oak handle, 33 inches long overall. The head is original but the handle has been replaced. The handle is offset, so that when the axe is swung, the cutting edge will come down to the side of the hewer’s work as in the image below.
Learn more (download):
The USS Constitution Museum recently made a reproduction of Jacob Sibley’s axe and created a video of the process. Check out the video on YouTube!
The reproduction axe and video were funded thanks to the support of