WVTools is an antique and collectible tool
business located in Lerona, WV founded by me,
John Harper.   I grew up in McMurray, PA until
age 10 and then moved to Pinch, WV.  My
interest in antiques started when I went to
auctions with my grandfather as a boy.  This
interest continued to develop during my school
years going to auctions and yard sales.  A few
of my friends from college and graduate school
had some antique tools, so I moved in the
direction of tools instead of general antiques.   
Like almost everyone in the business, I was
influenced by the books and television work of
Roy Underhill.  

My education culminated in a B.S. in Geology
from West Virginia University and an
M.S. in Environmental Sciences from University
of Virginia.  My thesis concentrated on pre- and
post-flood floodplain morphological changes
from the flood of 1985 in West Virginia.  My
professional history started with 1 year at the
Florida Sinkhole Research Institute in Orlando,
FL.  I worked for 11 years as an environmental
consultant in Tampa, FL specializing in
environmental assessments, contamination
assessment, waste management, and hazardous
waste remediation.  I am a licensed Professional
Geologist in the State of Florida.  Given my
scientific background, I stock an array of tool
reference books and catalogs and try to
research tool use and history to the most
feasible extent from a time management aspect.

While living in Florida working my first job as a
geologist, I started collecting antique tools and
accumulating them to sell.  I decided that I had
to specialize my collection, or I would never
want to sell anything.  My inclination was
towards wrenches, but I decided to collect rules
and measuring instruments.  My interest in rules
was piqued because my father gave me a Lufkin
No. 873L that he got in a 1.00 auction box lot.  
Over the years, my collecting interest has
tended towards zig-zag rules, particularly
Lufkin, and unusual rules and measuring

While working as an environmental consultant in
Tampa, I opened my first antique mall booth in
Pinellas Park, Florida in 1993.  In 1995, the mall
closed because the owner wanted to pursue
other interests.  I founded an environmental  
consulting firm with a co-worker in 1995, and
merged with an old graduate school friend who
had his own small consulting firm in 1996.  So,
from 1995 to 2002, I accumulated tools from
shopping at yard sales on the weekends.  
Florida was a great place to buy tools, except
that the condition was often rusty and poor
from the weather conditions.

I married an old high school friend, Karen
McClure, in 1998.  Our outdoor ceremony  was
on what must have been the hottest day in the
twelve years that I was in Florida.  Karen was
very tolerant of my tool buying.  I filled up a
room in the house and most of the garage.  We
do not have children, but have three dogs, Sally,
Cita, and Beagley (all adopted mixed breeds).

I began selling tools again when I launched
Tampatools on Ebay in 1999, which turned into
WVTools when we moved back to the mountains
of WV in 2002.  We took two moving vans from
Florida -- one with tools and one with everything
else (no kidding!).  Well, that is not entirely true,
the second van had its share of tools too!  I am
sure glad that I went with rules and tapes
instead of wrenches, or I would have needed a
third truck to handle the weight.

That year I started the first two of my antique
mall booths in West Virginia.  My first two years
here, I spent a large portion of my time
converting an unfinished hunting cabin into a
house and building a workshop/garage/storage/
guest quarters building/house.  I have quite a
collection of user tools from my years of buying
and am fairly proficient at a large range of
construction activities, which kind of mirrors my
tool knowledge.  I do not really have a specialty,
but have a large general knowledge of a wide
variety of antique and user tools.  I know how a
lot of tools are used, but am not very adept at
fine detailed work.

I am a member of several tool clubs, but have
not yet been able to schedule going to any
national meetings.  I am a member of PATINA,
M-WTCA, MVWC, and EAIA.  My future tool
collecting/researching plans include cataloging
my collection and displaying it online on my
website, and doing zig-zag type studies.  I would
also like to perform patent and other research
on some of the more oddball items in my
collection, including the 12 or so skirt markers
that I have.

WVTools now sells at 5 antique mall booths, on
Ebay, through a Yahoo Store and website, and
at several eastern antique shows and flea
markets.  Currently there are over 1500 tools for
sale on the internet covering a large range of
tool types.  
John Harper Biography