The Metropolitan Museum of Art has seven vises listed in its collection. I was able to find one of them and pored over it for a while last Sunday.
This is an armorer’s vise. I don’t know what makes it specifically an armorer’s as opposed to any other smith’s tool. It’s undoubtedly one of the prettiest tools I’ve ever seen, and all the more so as vises are among the most brutish workhorse tools in a shop.
Mermen and putti help support the jaws and bench clamp. The lever ends are turned with acorns and concentric stepped finials.
My favorite artistic flourishes are the cartouches on either side of the body with Jacopo De Ferrara’s name and the date commemorating the making of this tool.
This vise was collected and passed on to the MET by Samuel Yellin. You will see his name on many, many examples of metalwork from ancient Iran to rural Pennsylvania in the MET. Yellin was a master craftsman and designer in metal in his own right in the Arts and Crafts movement. His own works now reside in museums.
The Met has a high quality image of the Jacopo De Ferrara armorer’s vise on the museum site.