Whilst I never got to meet David Russell personally due to being outside the normal selling channels, it is clear David was passionate about the historical importance and recording it for future collectors to aspire to.
I have heard many stories about the auctions he attended and his determination to win ‘wanted’ antique tools, paying top prices in many cases to secure his next find but I do think he saw past this and his resulting book (www.antiquewoodworkingtools.co.uk) which was created as part of his legacy will enshrine him to part of the history of the Antique tools industry. The book is a must have to realise what tools actually exist and to many of us mere mortals an image will be the closest we ever get to these tools.
It’s rather fitting that to many who may have thought he paid heavy prices on occasions his astute business brain saw another side that would bare fruit long after the collection was broken up and sold on.
The fact is the industry needs forward thinkers like David who understood the byproduct of their passion. Yes, he may have had a large budget but when you consider the many wonderful times and the excitement it brought him through searching, researching and buying and the many people he met as a result i’d say it was a pretty good deal. After selling off the tools some for higher prices and other at a loss I would hazard a guess that overall the collection and what has come from it has been shrewd investment.
All collectors generally become dealers, it’s simply impossible to walk away from a bargain even if it is a duplicate of something you already own as this helps to fund or trade towards the next purchase.
People only see what they want to see and I guess being an outsider on this occasion I can take an objective view and the fact David Russell got his own Wikipedia page on top of the book i’d say that was just rewards for his effort and passion for the subject.
What collectors should realise is from this there is a by-product and some will peruse this whilst others are just happy to quietly go about their collecting.
Could a collection like this every be collaborated again? Time will tell but one thing is for certain recognition for those who do it is clearly available within the world of Antique tools, as David has demonstrated.
I feel there will be more specialist tool collections coming to the fore, Antique hammers, wrenches, saws, and the lists go on. These are exciting times as never before has there been an easier way to publicise your knowledge or collections.