This is a good signed American cutting-in spade, The extreme bottom of the socket seems to be packed with wood-like material; perhaps the remains of the pointed tip of the wooden pole. There are 3 mounting holes near the end of the socket. The cutting edge is good. Along the centerline on one side of the blade is stamped the maker’s mark SNOW & PURRINGTON. The entire spade is covered with a thin black paint of undetermined age and the metal surface is good with little to light pitting on the blade and moderate pitting over the shank and socket. OA length 20-1/8 in., blade width 4 7/8 in., blade length 9 3/4 in.
SNOW & PURRINGTON was the partnership of New Bedford blacksmiths James M. Snow and Nathaniel S. Purrington. It was formed before 1849 and continuing until Purrington’s retirement in 1868. Their shop was on J and J. Howland’s Wharf. So we have here a large, non Cast Steel spade most likely from the 1850’s. The design is of the more modern type but without the advantages of a steel cutting edge.
From the Robert Hellman Whaling Collection with description and notes from his data base.