Tools for Working Wood

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Martyl Pollak  


Back in the late '90s, shortly after I started the original 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.

Tags:Historical Subjects,Misc.
Comments: 3
That is sad to hear! I bought AGMAWP several years ago after I first discovered Astragal Press - I knew I had found a true goldmine, a book publisher whose every books seemed aimed directly for me... I have learned much and benefited greatly from the works of Astragal Press.

I certainly hope the work they started carries on.
10/06/2010Al (new owner, Astragal Press) 
Thank you for the kind words about Martyl. We are doing our best to continue their labor of love - Astragal Press. Personalized service, knowledge about the books we sell, quality at affordable prices, and simply doing the right things each day are how we hope to operate our business.
We're proud to say "Books for Working Wood is a long time customer and loyal partner of Astragal Press." God Bless the Pollak family, friends, and colleagues during this time of greif.
02/13/2011William Koss 
I don't suppose there is a searchable database for this book. Its a fantastic publication and I have used it for years. But there are times when I would like to know, for example, whether planes have been found that are from a specific city. Way too many entries to look page by page.

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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.
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