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The origin of EC Atkins - a letter from Ron Geesin

Arising from my continuing research into the convoluted and fascinating world of British adjustable spanners, towards my completing an extensive Supplement to my book, I am commenting on a catalogue item in 'Catalogues on Disc No.2', 'Governor / Trojan / EC Atkins (not dated) 124 pages'.

From the title, some may take 'E. C. Atkins' as the originator, but it is actually by 'John Shaw & Sons (Wolverhampton) Ltd.'. 'E. C. Atkins' was a prominent American saw manufacturer and this was an English catalogue. From documents I have acquired from the Wolverhampton City Archives, E. C. Atkins started discussions in 1904 with the globally-connected English manufacturer and factor, John Shaw & Sons, for Shaw to become their British agent and an agreement was set up. A letter from Atkins of 16th February 1904 stated 'We hope you will be able (as we feel certain you will) to make the Atkins name foremost on the British Saw Market.' A later contract drawn up between the two companies, signed on the 4th November 1912, stated that Shaw should 'energetically push the sale of Saws and Specialties manufactured by E. C. ATKINS & Co.'

So, this catalogue 'pushed' Atkins saws in its first pages. The brand names GOVERNOR and TROJAN were created by John Shaw & Sons to market both its manufactured and its factored tools. GOVERNOR 'stands for all that is best' and TROJAN 'runs (it) a close second'. The initials JS&S are engraved on some items. Focussing on the adjustable spanner section, although it is not stated, and rather like many other tools in the catalogue, they sourced these from Germany and America.

Dating the catalogue, checking on the patent number GB123963 engraved on the PATENT UNBREAKABLE RUBBER REEL on p. 104, its publication date was 13th March 1919, so the catalogue has to have been printed after that, so lets say c. 1920.


Ron Geesin

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