Large and very early antique broad axe. This large ax is about 33.5" long overall. The iron head measures about 11" long (over the cutting edge) and 8 1/2" wide (side to side) and 4" high over the axe poll. This axe from an old farm estate and has a bent wood handle. This axe head is marked with the maker's name, "Hall & Son" and the year 1860. This axe has been well used and there is an area of chipping to cutting edge.
There is some pitting to the axe head under the black paint and we're not sure if the head was repainted or if the pitting was left over from the manufacturing techniques used back in the 1850s (water powered trip hammers and blacksmith's forges).
Broad axes were an important tool in any early farmer or pioneer's tool chest and are made to be sharpened from one side only, like a chisel or a smoothing plane iron.
You will often find that the original bent wood handles of broad axes have been replaced with the straight handles, more typical of ordinary axes The handle on this axe is offset from the line of the blade as you can see in the third photo.
Broad axes are intended to be fitted with a wood handle (usually hickory, ash, elm or another strong and tough wood) that has been warped with heat and steam to mount the axe head off center of the ax head. This is because broad axes were used with adzes to hew and shape barn beams, wagon tongues & axels etc from whole logs (mostly in the days before sawmills). The axe head was offset from the handle so that the axe could be used parallel to the beam face to trim it smooth without scraped knuckles etc.