Anvils, what type of metal?

I have a small anvil that is likely some grade of iron. I’d like to
upgrade and need info on what type of metal I should look for. Iron?
Hardened, tempered steel? Higher or lower carbon content? What alloy?
Where should I look?

Thank you,

With a good quality anvil you have two choices. A cast tool steel
anvil or a wrought anvil with a hard tool steel face forge welded to
a softer steel or iron body. Both are fine tools and will serve you
well. The biggest problem is to determine if you are looking at an
anvil or an ASO (anvil shaped object) if it is the former they will
not be cheap as there is not a lot of production of quality anvils
in this day and age. There are lots of ASO’s available from the likes
of Harbor Freight or Grizzly etc. These are cast iron or semi steel
and good for door stops or boat anchors but worthless as anvils as
they are too soft and will not return the hammer to your hand as you
strike it. A good test to see whether you should even think of
purchasing the anvil is to take along a ball bearing of say 1/2" or
larger in diameter. Drop the bearing on the working surface from a
height of a foot, it should bounce back to almost the same height as
you dropped it from.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts