Gardener's Root-Crop Fork
Gardener’s Root-Crop Fork and Detail of Reverse Side of Handle with Branded Initials: R.W.B. Dumbarton Oaks Archives, AR.OB.Misc.027
James N. Carder (August 2012)
Formerly on the site of the Dumbarton Oaks Library was a gardeners tool house, which was demolished in 2003 in preparation for the construction of the Library. This gardener’s root-crop fork was found among the many tools stored inside. Measuring 39½ inches in length, the fork has two steel tines (set about two inches apart) with minimal footrests and a hickory shaft and handle. On the back of the D-shaped handle are the branded initials R.W.B (image above, at right), suggesting that the fork was owned by Dumbarton Oaks founder, Robert Woods Bliss. Very likely, the fork was originally part of a larger gardening tool set owned by the Blisses. The D-shaped handle with its “gooseneck” handgrip is typical of American garden tools made in the 1930s. As the name implies, root-crop forks were used in harvesting vegetables such as turnips and carrots. This one is retained in the Dumbarton Oaks Archives (AR.OB.Misc.027).