CARROLLTON, Ohio - Jim Myers is a slight, graying man dressed in worn navy blue Dickies.
A tattered denim apron hangs from his neck, a center breast pocket stuffed with pencils, pens, small tools.
Inside his tin shop at 44 East Main Street in Carrollton, the smith oversees a small staff – “five on a good day” – as they form and punch stainless steel shovels with the Ohio Bicentennial logo.
The shovels put the Carroll County seat on the radar for collectors and have kept a bit of the Myers family’s bicentennial-celebrating traditions alive.
Tradition. A has-been office – today a storage room – guards the manufacturing floor’s presses, punches and welding tables.
The room’s glass door pane is lettered ‘Henry T. Myers’ – Jim’s late father - stenciled in faded and chipped white paint.
The man, whose oil on canvas form still watches over his son and the business, started Myers Tin Shop in 1946.
The business specialized in heating and air conditioning but kept the machinery moving with die work and punching.
“I kind of do a little bit of everything with metal,” Myers said.
Myers remembers when his father took an order for 100,000, 14 1/2-inch long stainless steel shovels in 1975.
Used widely as a utility item, the family thought the items would be hot with the public if they had the added value of the U.S. bicentennial logo.
“They’re useful. People still today use them in fireplaces and stoves, for doggie-doo, kids’ butts,” Myers said.
License fails. Confidence he would be granted a license for the United States bicentennial in 1976 wavered when Henry Myers’ first application was denied: The star stamped on the shovel’s flat plate was not to scale.
Slight changes were made, but a second application was also denied. The order for 100,000 unlicensed shovels fell through.
Myers kept at it.
July 4, 1976, passed before he was finally issued a license to use the logo that August – the very last license to be issued for the commemoration. It was late in the celebration year and demand for bicentennial items was shrinking.
At the time, the shop had more than a third of the original order cut and formed.
Still more had been cut and remained boxed, flat and waiting.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer got wind of Myers’ plight and reported on the shovels in early 1983.
“Before we knew it, our story was nationwide on NBC news,” Myers said.
A mail-order business started for what turned out to be one of the rarer items issued, and a few thousand were sold.
These days. Fast-forward to 2000.
With Ohio’s bicentennial nearing, the younger Myers saw potential for the cut steel forms gathering dust in a warehouse above the shop for nearly 25 years.
A few phone calls and postage stamps later, he held one of the first Ohio bicentennial licenses issued.
“Since Dad was the last one [issued], I really wanted to be the very first. That didn’t happen,” he said.
Instead, other items already manufactured and bearing the logo were licensed to avoid legal battles, he said.
No impressively high orders have been placed and roughly 4,000 of the shovels have been shaped and stamped this time around.
“As soon as people heard we were setting up to do this, they wanted one for their collection,” he said.
The newest shovels are stamped with the logo and the words “Remember Our Heritage.”
Other customized shovels have been stamped with ‘Carrollton, Ohio’ or ‘Carroll County.’
Retail sales. The shovels retail for $10 each. They are also available with red and blue paint accentuating the logo for $15. A portion of the profits are paid in royalties to the state commission.
Myers’ employees pay special attention to the project: more are formed and polished only when orders need to be filled.
To date, orders have trickled in from across the state and as far away as Florida; sellers in the area have also posted the items on eBay.
“It’s turned out to be a lot of fun. Everyone else makes thermometers, marbles, ornaments, woodcrafts. No one else makes a shovel,” he said.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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Myers Tin Shop
44 E. Main Street
Carrollton, OH 44615
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