CHELSEA, Vt.—It all started when he was a kid, as these kind of things often do. Hale Mattoon, a sugarmaker in the hills of Chelsea, Vt. has since become the pre-eminent spout and maple artifact curator in the industry.
“For me, it’s a thrill,” Mattoon says of his lifelong passion, collecting maple spouts and other artifacts like evaporator fronts, buckets, tapping bits and sap regulators.
But his primary passion is spouts.
As a child Mattoon would help on the sap buckets on the family sugaring operation and one day he happened to notice a peculiar spout in the inventory.
“It was the only one like it in all of the spouts,” he remembers.
It was a 1905 Patent, solid barrel spout made by Warner of Essex, Vt.
And the passion has grown from there. Mattoon now has more than 500 unique spouts dating back to the first era of cast iron in the mid-1800s.
He has all kinds. Twig type spouts, round ones, square ones, long ones, stubby ones and weird ones that make you just scratch your head and wonder “What were they thinking?” Like the one from North Collins, N.Y. that looks like a wing nut.
Mattoon has painstakingly cataloged them all in what is now his second volume called “Maple Spouts, Spiles Taps & Tools” (Flying Squirrel Press). The book is available on Amazon.com or at Bascom Maple Farm.
His first book, from 2013, sold out quickly and is out of print. The second edition carries more information on tools and other collectables.
Mattoon got the idea for his books from a neighboring sugarmaker and friend, Fred Webber who told him that his collection was special and many others would love to see it.
“Boy, that hit me like a hammer,” Mattoon said.
With the help of his wife, who has tracked down many of the original patent submissions, his newest book is a definitive catalog of maple spouts for the collector.
Mattoon says that there are many collectors involved in the hobby and they often swap spouts with each other to help fill out certain categories of spouts.
“They’re great people, everyone you meet doing this,” Mattoon said during a recent tour for The Maple News. “If we have duplicates we are happy to trade. We like to get together and have fun.”