Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Video: Pioneer Axe

Forged by craft: the last axes made by eye and muscle, before automation took over

At the dawn of the 20th century, Oakland, Maine was part of New England’s thriving manufacturing economy, and was known as the axe-making capital of the world. But by the 1960s, the rise of mass and foreign production had forced almost a dozen Oakland axe manufacturers to close up shop. Filmed in 1964 by the Maine-based photographer and filmmaker Peter Vogt, Pioneer Axe documents the forging of fine axes at Oakland’s last operating workshop, Emerson & Stevens, just months before it, too, was forced out of business. Shot on 35mm black-and-white film, the short captures each stage of the process as this small factory churns out blades with swift efficiency by melding human and machine labour. With its focus on both the craft and the market undercurrents threatening it, the film examines forces of automation and international trade that remain extremely relevant in the US economy today.

Director: Peter Vogt

Text: Aeon

Running time: 10:47

Email subscribers may click on the title of this post to watch the video.

Pioneer Axe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your email address to follow Vox Populi and receive new posts by email.

Join 11,506 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 4,060,311 hits


%d bloggers like this: