Michael: OK, some people are wondering what a photo of bit brace auger bits has to do with Colombia. Well, it shows there are still those places where you can find the old stuff.
While living in the USA I collected old hand tools. Unfortunately my wood planes and other items were unable to accompany me to Colombia and found other homes.
At that time, finding a complete set of boring bits for a hand brace was close to impossible. I frequently found one or two at garage and estate sales, but never a complete set. And then rarely in good shape.
Graciela: We entered an old, and small by American standards, ferretería (hardware store) in an older part of Bogotá. Looked like the standard type shop to me. But my husband spotted the old tools immediately.
Michael: I knew to do my best to contain my excitement. Being obvious gringo there is always the chance of what I call the “gringo tax” and if my interest was showing too much there would be another change on top of that. My wife has often rescued me. I have heard her tell a vendor, “He may be American, but I am Colombian and know that price is too high.” And if she is not there I sometimes Hollywood it a bit showing heart attack surprise at the price and saying, “No quiero gringo precio.” (I do not want the gringo price)
But this is a set of 13 bits ranging in size from 3/16 inches to 1 inch and in a handmade wooden case. They have very little rust, all the points are sharp and so are the bits.
Yes, you can still find a place in the States that sells these things new. Depending on the size they range in price from $11 to $24 each.
I left my wife to the negotiations.
Graciela: The store owner told me that he had been sitting on those bits for well over 20 years. He then seemed delighted that Michael knew about many of the old items in the shop. Items would be picked up, dusted off with a cloth and shown. Though there also seemed to be a desire to see what other item he has been sitting on for years that he could finally dispose of to the gringo.
Michael: A limited budget curtailed my purchases. But I did walk out with the 13 bits and the wooden box for $40 USD.
Graciela: Bogotá recently celebrated it’s 476th birthday. You really do not have to find an antique shop to purchase those types of things. There are still many stores in older sections where the items are sitting dust covered on the shelves.