Vises have adorned workshops and workbenches for centuries, with the earliest records being found in the 1700s. Throughout this period, the purpose behind vises has remained unchanged: to help build the railroads and let craftsmen carve, cut, and drill wood and metal with unparalleled precision.
Vises are tools made to help woodworkers, jewelers, clockmakers, and metalworkers hold wooden or metallic pieces in place. The earliest vises ever to be discovered date back to 1750. Before the advent of vises, workers had to hold objects in place manually with wedges and hammers; however, the invention of vises changed this age-old practice, allowing for simpler and more convenient crafting.
The first vises were made of wood which proved invaluable for artisans and woodworkers; however, they were found lacking in terms of durability. The second generation of vises was created in England in 1830, which featured a cast iron body, providing them with the required sturdiness to withstand rough use.
Antique tool collector and entrepreneur Jesus Marquez has made a career out of collecting and restoring antique vises to their former glory. Jesus explained how his passion for antiques gave way to his brand,
“I’ve been an antique enthusiast since I was a kid, and back then, I fell in love with the story of how vises were built to hold America.” Jesus further informed, “I founded Mexashop1, not as a company but as a brand that works as a platform for me to showcase my antique vise and tool collection. I” ve been collecting vises since 2015 because these tools played a vital role in America “s history, they were used to build America, and I suppose that “s what makes them so interesting for me.”
When asked about his most prized possessions, Marquez shared, “Over the years, I have managed to secure some rare pieces, such as The BugaV vise, The Reed 209 9” Jaws, only one known in existence, the Parker 260X vise 360lbs – one of the only two in existence and the only Prentiss factory wood show display vise that’s over a hundred years old. These are just a few that I can count on my fingertips. Apart from that, I also have many original vise display shelves used in retail stores over one hundred years ago, Reed 109.” And many 8’’ vises are well over 200lbs.
Marquez elaborated on the subject, “I am a strong believer of ‘they don’t make it like they used to’, because even though the latest iterations of these tools are better at their jobs, it wouldn’t be right to just forget about the originals and how they paved the way for the future generations.”
Jesus, on how he separates antiques from modern iterations, went on to reveal, “It’s not something anyone can pull off. There are times when the distinctions are visible, but I largely depend on my intuition. Sometimes you can find the date of production on the slide keys or on the back jaws/static, but depending on that solely can be a gamble because back in the day, manufacturers sometimes used to put warranty expiration dates, so it makes the entire process a bit confusing.”
He continued, “The designs are also a bit different from the modern versions. Over Time, artisans found ways to tweak the designs, so the latest iterations have additional features that the antique pieces lack, such as the rotating vise heads and the specialty jaws.”
The quest and passion of Jesus may seem uncalled for to some; however, Marquez’s consistency and dedication have inspired the people of today to connect with history. Although the antique industry is very small and mostly active online, through the smart use of social media, Jesus has been able to leave a mark on those who value – and are intrigued – by the true essence of the old world’s mechanical treasure.