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April 24, 2012

New York Collectors Give Colonial Williamsburg Antique Tinsmithing Tool Collection

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has added 23 antique tinsmithing tools to the foundation’s collection. The tools were graciously offered as a gift by Judith and William McMillen of Glenmont, N.Y., and will prove extremely useful as Colonial Williamsburg seeks to add tinsmithing to the dozens of 18th-century trades already practiced by the Historic Trades artisans.

Although the antique tools will not be used in the day-to-day practice of tinsmithing, the tools will be used as prototypes for replication by the foundation’s toolmakers. “These tools are a tremendous resource,” said Ken Schwarz, master of the blacksmith shop. “They serve as models that we can replicate faithfully and use the replicas in our new tinsmithing trade that will debut in 2013.” Colonial Williamsburg has already begun reconstructing the tin shop as part of the recently opened Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury project — funded by a gift from Forrest E. Mars, Jr.

The McMillens, who have been collecting the set of tools for decades, wished to find an appropriate museum setting for the tools so that others may enjoy and appreciate the collection. “When we heard that Colonial Williamsburg was going to reconstruct a Revolutionary War-era tinsmithing shop, we knew where the tools would be most appreciated,” William McMillen said.

“We are extremely grateful to Judy and Billy McMillen for their generosity,” said Erik Goldstein, Colonial Williamsburg curator of mechanical arts and numismatics. “Their tools are a wonderful addition to our collection, and we have already added them to our eMuseum.”

Images of the tools and information about them may be viewed online at and do a Quick Search with an individual tool’s accession number (2012-27 through 2012-49). Find histories, images, descriptions and more about several thousand objects from the Colonial Williamsburg collections presented in the eMuseum.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281