Rumor has it that Carrie Nation towered six feet without heels and crashed saloons with a hatchet in hand from 1900 to 1911. Howling mobs threatened her and wives of saloon owners beat her for attempting the closure of the city’s illegal joints.
The truth is a bit shorter. Carrie Nation had a stature of 5 feet 4 inches, and most of her saloon rampages involved mere rock throws. Although she crusaded many states with her fiery tongue, only Kansas had a legal loophole that enabled hatchet-wielding ruckus without a lengthy jail sentence.
The violence she initiated had a lasting affect. Her rallying call was: “Oh, I tell you, ladies, you never know what joy it gives you to start out to smash a rumshop.” Admirers sent her gifts of axes, hatchets, and hammers. Carrie Nation didn’t wield these gifts, for she already had her reliable Crandall hammer: a stone-dressing tool made from several sharpened spikes held together with a frame and wedge.
A radical reformer, Carrie Nation quickly became a figurehead for the temperance movement. Companies (particularly those targeting female consumers) used her as part of their marketing. Her pinned hair, angular glasses, and high cheekbones were plastered, cast, and engraved into advertising fobs and souvenirs across the United States.
One such company was Art Stove Company, based in Detroit. In 1901, the Art Stove Company advertised its Laurel Stoves with silver cast fobs of Carrie Nation’s face. Shaped into a small hatchet, the advertising fobs read, “Ax of All Nations” and “Cut Out The Whiskey.” The fobs had 2-inch wide blades.
Carrie Nation died eight years before prohibition. She didn’t live to see her vision come true. But she remains a constant reminder of what strong, independent women have and can do with a hammer in hand.