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Return Of The Tinker

February 24, 2022

tin·ker (tiNGkər)
noun (especially in former times) a person who travels from place to place mending metal utensils as a way of making a living. The word comes from the 13th century as ‘tyckner’ or ‘tinkler’ a term used in medieval Scotland and England for a metal worker.

The bad news: They’ve been gone for some time. The good news: They’re coming back!

For years now, Americans have been throwing away household items that didn’t work anymore. From knives that need sharpening to metal tools to toys to lawnmowers, etc. America has simply grown weary (and lazy) of fixing things. It is often much cheaper to buy a new one that to fix the old one. However, times are changing.

The tinker was a fixture in America from the start but especially well-loved from the depression years until after World War II. People didn’t have the money to buy a new one so they fixed their belongings, often with the help of a travelling tinker. He’s the guy who fixed your child’s broken wagon, fixed a broken hand mower (Yes, millennials, we used to push a mechanical mower.), put pots back together and even sharpened kitchen knives. He was sort of a jack of all trades when it came to metal objects.

Just recently it has been stated that tinkers are making their way back into the American scene. Why? One possible explanation is that the American public is starting to turn away from cheap, ill-made Chinese household objects in favor of more expensive American goods. If you’re going to pay more, it might be cheaper to maintain your investment rather than chucking it into the garbage can. Another explanation could be that there just isn’t anyone out there who can currently fix things. If you need a carpenter, plumber or electrician, chances are that you’ll wind up with a guy my age at your door. Generation X and their spawn do not aspire to these trades, preferring to all be hedge fund managers. If they can’t be hedge fund managers, they often choose none of the above as an occupation.

Whatever the reason, it’s good to see the return of the tinker. They have been out of circulation long enough and America needs them to fix our stuff. Welcome back!

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8 Comments
  1. How long did it take you to tinker with this idea? I remember the tinker from the Waltons that would show up coincidently when they had an old item that they thought might make them some money.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Snicker, very punny.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was a child, my grandmother used to take me to this little shop where there was what she called, ‘a Fix-it Man.’ I have never seen so much stuff in all my life. I had forgotten about the place until I read this. It was fascinating to see him working on broken television sets, radios, whatever. He fixed everything my grandmother brought into his place. he was always busy and he made a good living.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It did become less expensive to replace many things instead of fixing them, especially electronic items, unless you could do it yourself. We’ll see if that changes.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I love the art of making beautiful and functional things, I wish we would only create long-lasting heirlooms that were designed to be cared for and repaired. Our world became plastic, fueled by profit and meant to be disposed, “upgraded”. It wasn’t by accident that our world became what it is. It makes me strive for minimalism, that’s my new goal. Consumerism is what created our cluttered world.

    Liked by 2 people

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