|Back in the late '90s, shortly after I started the original antiquetools.com site, I got a call from The Astragal Press, the country's foremost publisher specializing in books about tools, wondering if we would be interested in selling their books. Of course I said yes, and Astragal became our first vendor. Martyl (Marty) Pollak, who founded Astragal with her husband Emil Pollak, befriended me and took me to all the tool conferences, introduced me to lots of people in the tool collecting world, and in general gave me a big start in the industry. Later on, when I met my wife, Marty befriended her too. She had us over at her house many times (one luncheon visit en route to a weekend wedding a few hours away definitely marked the high point of that weekend). My wife and I were continually impressed by how wonderful and generous Marty was.|
I am sad to report that Marty Pollak suddenly passed away last week. Her legacy includes laying the foundation of most of the research done on antique tools. She was a key part in encouraging some of the early researchers on tools to publish, and she would help them shape their material and get it into polished book form. Her husband Emil passed away in the early 1990's, and unfortunately I never had the pleasure of meeting him. He was a plane collector who recognized the need for a compendium of information on all the American planemakers. He and Marty wrote and published A Guide to the Makers of American Wooden Planes, now in its 4th Edition. From what I understand, Astragal sprang from their positive experience with their own book and their desire to expand knowledge about traditional crafts and tools that were so important to humanity's achievements.
If you have any intellectual interest in tools or the social history of tool use, you have read or discussed ideas Marty published or helped popularize. If you've used high-end hand tools recently manufactured in this country, you've benefited from Marty's work in making information available so that a new generation of toolmakers could learn from the past. And if you had the pleasure of hanging out with Marty - well, you're the luckiest of all.
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