The anvil is easily one of the most expensive one-time purchases we make. We spend hours researching anvil brands and prowling through eBay looking for that elusive anvil that’s not too much many, but still made by someone reputable.
While we were looking for old-timey blacksmithing pictures to share, we came across this one of a Vulcan Anvil from an 1899 publication called 20th Century Catalogue of Supplies for Watchmakers, Jewelers, and Kindred Trades. (We’re the “kindred trades” they speak of.)
We thought it looked like a solid anvil. Horn, shoulder, sturdy base, hardy and pritchel holes. We started wondering what Vulcans go for nowadays and what the general consensus is on them in the blacksmithing community.
What we found, as with so many things, is that people’s opinions differed.
From I Forge Iron’s discussion The Trouble With Vulcans, we saw that quite a few people didn’t think much of the Vulcans. The post is from 2012, but the link to a Vulcan anvil on eBay still works. It appears to have some large chips out of it indicating a soft, weak surface.
So, the question becomes: Are they all like this and are they worth current prices on them?
In that same thread on I Forge Iron, there’s at least one guy who has had very few issues with his over the years and is backed up by Brian Brazeal, a blacksmith of over 30 years. Brazeal created his signature style rounding hammer that is often replicated (you’ll see examples on eBay at that affiliate link*).
This at least shows that you can get some work out of a Vulcan anvil. It also shows that results will vary. This is true of any anvil, tool, or piece of equipment. There will be inconsistencies in the final product. We’ve come a long way since Vulcans were first made and they’re still floating around out there.
The most current prices on eBay for Vulcans range from $150 to $400.
If you come across a Vulcan anvil in your searches, take some time to read about them on forums, but also use your best judgment. We’ve seen amazing things created on rocks, not to mention cast iron Anvil-Shaped Objects.
Remember: It has more to do with the smith than it does the anvil.
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*For the sake of full disclosure, we will be sharing affiliate links in our posts. The commissions we receive for these referrals do not increase the price of things you choose to buy. These commissions do make it possible for us to continuing to provide useful information. Thank you for being interested in blacksmithing.