Billnäs Bruk, originally founded in 1641 by Carl Billsten while Finland, was under Swedish rule. It was destroyed in 1659 during taxation protests, then again at the start of the 18th century during Russian Military occupation. By 1723, it was back up and running under the ownership of the Hisinger family and grew until it was employing over one thousand people by 1915!
About this time frame, the Fiskars Corporation began investing in Billnäs Bruk eventually taking full ownership in 1957. Billnäs continued on under the Billnäs banner until 1970 when the Fiskars logo and banner replaced old Billnäs. The original forge continued on for a few more years producing new axes stamped "Fiskars" before closing the forge down for good.
This head, located in Estonia, is a bit of a rare bird. During the mid to late 60's there was an effort to "modernize" the age-old Billnäs designs that had been so loved and used throughout Scandinavia for generations. This axe was one of those efforts, an attempt to bring the 1122 into the modernistic design aesthetic of the 60's. However, these newly designed axes were only made and stamped "Billnäs" for a few years, before Fiskars fully absorbed all of the forge and replaced the stampings to "Fiskars" in 1970. As a result, the vast majority of these type of axes from this era will be found stamped Fiskars instead of Billnäs.
Ok, you've made it this far through the historic diatribe...in short, this axe is rare as they were only stamped "Billnäs 1122" for a couple years. In addition to the model markings, this particular axe also has factory stamped "65" which is more than likely a date (1965) as it fits right in with the transition timeline. And this particular example (having now visited the K.A. shop) is only the 2nd one in the world also wearing the Heritage Chop!
Stripped, cleaned, and refinished in the raw...this axe originally came painted red from the forge. Dave gave the axe head a nice uniform whire wheel and stonewashed finish, that will wear nicely with time and use. The white ash haft fitted by Trinity Boletus, was burn detailed on the top 2/3 rds. The pomel is a unique take on the traditional flare that Emile is so adept at hand carving. Fitting the hand perfectly, this new shape strikes an interesting visual balance between a sweeping flare and a more squared off tail. And in the context of this particular mid century modern axe, it reminds one of those chunky retro shoes all your Dads used to wear while they were sipping 7&7's and eyeballing your Mom in her hot new paisley jumper!
Overall, the vibe of "been there done that, asked for seconds" while I was wearing polyester bell bottoms and a fat Patton leather belt has certainly been preserved in this project. Groovy apparently found its way from Hait and Ashbury all the way to Finland, with just a light enough stone to get work done!
Who would have thought Hippie could be imbued in a Finnish Axe? It is in Southern Oregon now after-all, San Francisco's original suburb. In all seriousness though... this is a remarkably capable axe design in both size and weight. Dave keeps one just like this, only one of the Fiskars versions in this truck. This is a do everything model with a retro vibe!