Toy Alanzo Lathan
Toy Alanzo Lathan was a machinist for the Southern Railroad. He lived and worked in Columbia, S.C.

Toy Lathan made a number of toy hammers, inscribed with his initials and given to various kids. These small hammers were shaped like a ball-pean type hammer. Apparently, not all of these hammers were "toy" sized or designed for children. One, which is in my possession, is a "man-sized" hammer of great quality. I came into ownership of the hammer through my father. I have no idea when or how he became the owner. The hammer weighs 3 pounds, is 5 1/2 inches from the ball to the face. The face and ball are about 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Both the ball and face are encircled by rings etched into the metal. Both sides of the head are engraved with, " T.A.L".

When I became the owner of this hammer it had a round hickory handle that appeared to be the original handle. About fifteen years ago the handle broke and I could not find a round handle with the right length and diameter and was forced to replace it with a handle that has an oval cross-section.

This hammer has been in my family for as long as I can remember, at least 40 years. Today, it shows a few dings on the face and on the ball. However, this damage is slight and shows that the metal is of high quality. This hammer is a well used tool but it is also a piece of industrial art. No new hammer would have the etchings that this one has. Neither would I expect a new hammer to last 40 plus years.

My father, the owner before me, told me that the hammer's metal came from an unrepairable piston rod from the drive piston of a steam engine. A lady friend of mine who was once a machinist for the Norfolk Naval Ship Yard said that considering its age it was one of the most beautiful used pieces she'd seen.

Toy worked for the railroad during the "hay days" of steam and rail... and it shows.