CUT ABOVE: Steve Lehmann’s outstanding collection of 1630 axes.
CUT ABOVE: Steve Lehmann’s outstanding collection of 1630 axes. Sarah Harvey

Top billing for giant axe in collection of 1630

Axe and egg beater collectors Steve and Maree Lehmann with some of their collection. Maree has 400 egg beaters and Steve has 1700 axes. Photo: Sarah Harvey / The Queensland Times
Axe and egg beater collectors Steve and Maree Lehmann with some of their collection. Maree has 400 egg beaters and Steve has 1700 axes. Photo: Sarah Harvey / The Queensland Times Sarah Harvey

CROCODILE Dundee had his knife.

But Steve Lehmann has his axe.

He has more than 1600 of them in fact.

But the one that stands almost two metres tall is the one we are interested in for this yarn.

It is a novelty axe with an interesting story attached.

"It is based on a Kelly Dandenong axe which is an Australian-made felling axe," Mr Lehmann said.

"How it came about is that I used to do a lot of maintenance work at Kruger Sawmill and they had a handle that turned up on their copy lathes that was twice the length of a normal handle.

"But it wasn't proportioned, so it wasn't blown out to twice the width.

"So I tried for years to get them to make me one, but they dug their heels in and said no. So my blacksmith said to me one day that he would go one better.

"I called in at his place one day when he wasn't home and he had the head roughed out with the spike hanging off the back of it, so that he could work with it and use it. I was just blown away by it.

"He finished it and cut that spike away and dressed it all up and he bought the piece of spotted gum and made the handle and gave it to me … and then I was totally blown away.

"I am around six feet tall, so the handle itself is around six foot. The whole thing weighs 18 kilos."

The axe has a stamp on it that says "this axe was handmade by Ron Devin, blacksmith, for Steve and Maree Lehmann, 2004".

"Ron was well known around Ipswich and spent most of his working life here. He started in the Railway Workshops as a young fella," Mr Lehmann said.

The axe cannot be used of course. Only a giant could swing it.

"It is just a gimmick," Mr Lehmann grinned.

"But I took it down to Rathdowney once where I used to do an axe display.

"These four young teenage blokes came along and the axe really went down well.

"You couldn't answer the questions quick enough. We just got mobbed.

"One of the young blokes came up to me and said, 'Can you swing that mister?'

"I said, 'Mate, that is for cutting heads off chooks. You get four chooks and you go whack'.

"The young bloke goes, 'Really?'

"The next year I didn't take the axe back and this same kid had come along hoping to show his mates the axe.

"The poor little bugger was disappointed."

An outstanding axe in Mr Lehmann's collection is a mahogany squaring axe and it is one of his favourites and a once-in-a-lifetime piece.

"Honduras mahogany was the finest mahogany in the world and the English felled it and squared it off and sailed it back to England to convert it into furniture," he said.

"This is the axe that they squared it all off with.

"They are extremely rare.

"It was made by Robert Sorby, of Sheffield, one of the world's finest edge toolmakers of his time.

"It is the only one I have ever come across."

Mr Lehmann bought it off a mate at a swap meet who had bought it at an auction with him especially in mind.

"I used to spend over $5000 a year with him," Mr Lehmann said.

"He went to an auction and he had no cash on him and his credit card was to the hilt.

"But he wanted it right or wrong.

"He was just desperate to buy it on my behalf."

Mr Lehmann said there was more to the humble axe than meets the eye.

"The axe is probably the most important tool ever known to man," he said.

"You can trace the social history and development of mankind right back to the Stone Age ... through the stone axes, the Bronze Era, the Iron Age and after the Industrial Revolution into the fine steels that we use now."


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