I hate to pick on Stanley again, but they just happen to offer examples of what I’m talking about. On the left we have an antique Stanley driver handle — and on the right, a driver found in stores today. A casual observer might notice that one is ornately carved and the other is about as utilitarian as it gets. Both are Stanley, but they play completely different roles in our everyday lives.
The old-school handle features a highly decorative design on the handle and the end cap, and it’s constructed entirely of metal. It’s beautiful to look at and probably fun to use, but only in a controlled setting by a careful craftsman. The new-school example belongs to a pack of drivers meant for down and dirty work around the house or on the jobsite. Sure, they’re both drivers — but one is a refined shop tool meant for delicate use, and the other might see duty fishing earrings from the sink drain.
As a tool, the plastic-handled driver will most likely see more action than the metal-handled work of art — but we’d love to have that choice. It seems the high-end decorative hand tool went the way of the dinosaur long ago. A handful of collectors keep them around for the sake of history, but if you wanted to buy a decked-out set of drivers like these today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a manufacturer that carries one. It’s too bad — we know a bunch of guys who’d jump at the chance to have tools like this.