The Phemelogy of Tools was written in the 1970s and first published in 1982. This second edition includes added photographs illustrating the poem, a new preface, and several appendices. In 1999, H. G. Brack became the curator of the Davistown Museum. His Curator's Riff from the museum's 2005 show catalog is reproduced as an appendix. It provides a less abstract sypsis of the phemelogy of tools, especially as experienced and presented by New England artists, toolmakers, and others in the permanent collection of the Davistown Museum. Using a poem by Philip Booth as a context in which to explore the show's theme of the marriage of tools, art, and history, both the Curator's Riff and the exhibition explicate a key element of the phemelogy of tools that is only briefly referenced in the first edition text, i.e. the joys of the convivial use of tools. From the simple joys of gardening to the subtle satisfactions of mechanics, machinists, artisans, and artists, an enduring lesson of forty years as a mooncusser (tool salvaging) is how much fun we have with our tools. Decades of observing the enjoyment that both tool customers and museum visitors express upon buying, owning, and using or viewing tools stand in contrast to the omius legacy of our techlogical achievements.
H. G. Skip Brack is the founder and curator of the Davistown Museum and proprietor of and buyer for the Jonesport Wood Company, which deals in antique and used tools and includes the famed Liberty Tool Company in Liberty, Maine. Artifacts and information that Brack encountered on his tool buying expeditions in the attics, cellars, and workshops of coastal New England piqued his curiosity, raising questions about its early inhabitants and the tools they used. When he discovered that the information he sought to answer his questions was sketchy, inaccurate, or undocumented, Brack sought and scoured primary and secondary sources on the history of early coastal New England, focusing on the origins and composition of tools used by early New Englanders and New England First Nation communities. His publications include the Davistown Museum six volume Hand Tools in History series, Norumbega Reconsidered: Mawooshen and the Wawenoc Diaspora, and much of the text on the information-rich museum website www.davistownmuseum.org. Brack holds a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts and M.A. from the University of Colorado. His knowledge of early tools and Maine/New England maritime history makes him a sought after lecturer and consultant. Brack, the museum, and his tool stores have been featured in Yankee, Downeast, and Bangor Metro magazines, the Boston Globe, an Associated Press article that appeared world-wide, Maine Public Broadcasting Network's Maine Experience, and the Martha Stewart television show. He lives and works in Bar Harbor and Liberty, Maine, with his wife, Judith Bradshaw Brown.