Skip to content


History of the Richmond Antique Tool Society (RATS)

The Richmond Antique Tool Society (RATS) is an organization serving to promote knowledge of and interest in collecting, making and using antique tools. RATS provides a gathering place where members and guests can gain knowledge and understanding about tools and trades from the past and also buy, sell and trade old tools. (RATS) was formed in 1995 by Rick Long, Jim Hollins, and Henry Scott.  We are located in Mechanicsville, Virginia and serve the interest of members throughout central and southern Virginia.

Below is a portion of the first RATS President's Plane Talk from November 1995 by our founder, Rick Long. This talk gives you a feel for how the RATS started and some of the goals of our club for these past 27 years. The complete first RATS edition of the TOOL TABLE, November, 1995 has been scanned for you to enjoy.

RATS is "a club for makers, users and collectors" of old tools.

How did the RATS get Started?

In 1983, I refinished my first antique tool (rosewood marking gauge) that I found (stole for $3.00) at a flea market (Bubba's in Sandston), I was hooked on old tools. Soon, I learned to buy cheaply and refinish broken parts.

I made wooden planes that I couldn't afford to buy. Barlow's book came out containing prices, clubs, and other reference material, I joined Mid-Atlantic Tool Collectors Association (MATCA) which has become an area of Mid-West TCA. Later, I also joined PATINA, and the national club EAIA.

I started to learn that the quality and condition of the tools matter more. I began selling my earlier *not so good tools" so I could buy better ones. I researched books, attended club meetings, sold during tailgating, met other collectors and learned more. Yard sales were once my favorite place to find a steal, but were very time consuming. By going to the Big Flea, The Showplace and quality tool dealers, I could find what I needed much faster and with better results.

In 1995, I taught a 30 hour adult education class called "Making, Restoring and Collecting Antique Tools". I enjoyed teaching nine enthusiastic guys. We had a great time talking about and making tools. After the class ended, Jim Hollins, Henry Scott and I wanted to keep things rolling. We started Richmond Antique Tool Society which in three months has quickly grown to 30+ members.

Today, as you read our first newsletter, it is my hope that we can:

  • consider this a "club" to develop new friendships (as opposed to getting lost in the crowd with larger tool collecting associations).
  • generate interest in the preservation of tool history through displays in and around Richmond.
  • have an active membership (sharing the load). share the enjoyment of collecting, making and using old tools.
  • have our members give demonstrations
  • provide a meeting place to sell, trade and buy old tools.

Rick Long, President

History of the Richmond Antique Tool Society
History of the Richmond Antique Tool Society - RATS