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When was a sawmaker not a sawmaker?

You’re in a tool auction, or an antique shop, and you pick up a saw with the name of a maker you don’t recognise. What might that name signify? Does it imply that behind it lay a firm where the materials, tools, and skilled manpower existed to make saws?

Let us call this sort of firm a type 1 - true sawmakers. Or was the saw made by a firm that was wholesaling it with other lines of tools, or by such a type 1 firm and then marked with the name of the shop that was retailing it. The name on the saw would then be a type 2a, eg William Marples, edge tool and plane makers; the second variety, type 2b, often also carried the name or the logo of the type 1 firm (Hobday were retailers who marked other tools, notably planes, with their own name

Sawmakers01Type 2a - Wm Marples never made saws



Sawmakers02Type 2b - The elephant was the logo of W Tyzack, Sons and Turner


Or was the name on the saw that of a firm which might have been making saws or another type of tool and which had been taken over by another, a type 1 or type 2? Alfred Beckett and Sons took over several firms of both sorts during their long existence: Crookes Roberts, Charles Gray, Wheatman and Smith, Wm Jackson and Thomas Jowitt, all of which had made saws at some point during their pre-takeover existence, so that a saw with any of these names might have been made by the apparent maker, or by Alfred Beckett.

Or was the name a complete fiction, dreamed up in order to widen the apparent range on offer? “Have you seen the latest in our Bloggs line, Sir? Aimed at the practical section of the market, very reasonable price with no concessions to quality whatever, etc etc” (type 3). Some of this last variety were real names, culled from the family (Charles Calow made table knives round the corner from the Beardshaws before 1820, and was a relation by marriage, and Henry was the first name of one of William Marples’ sons), from the street on which a firm was located (Joseph Tyzack’s Bowdon and Fitzwilliam), from business contacts (John Cockerill was the foremost industrialist in Belgium before 1860, and bought steel from Spear and Jackson), or were no more than the type 1 firm’s name reversed (Sorby’s Robert Trebor); most, however, leave one guessing. Further confusion can arise from the practice of apparently locating a Sheffield type 3 firm in London (although the J[oseph] T[yzack] & S[on] is a bit of help).





  Examples of “Type 3” names

These type 3 “firms” give every appearance of reality, but, unlike type 1or 2 names, to try and trace them in the lists of sawmakers in trades directories alone is a fruitless exercise; because they look so convincing, but were indeed fiction, or at best ancient makers of some completely unrelated line, it is possible to waste an awful lot of time. The quickest key to them is the 1919 list of trademarks issued by the Cutlers’ Company in Sheffield, in which every name (including all the type 3) is listed. This book is not small, nor widely available [NB to the TATHS publications committee: produce a reprint!], so the list that follows is a quick way to identify the saws that bear an apparent firm’s name. It is not a complete list of the hundreds of other names, most often words that do not look like that of a firm - such concoctions as “Straight cut”, or “Omega”, or “Sharp” [they were on top form at Abram Ashton that day] and for help in this direction one must go to an actual copy of the trademarks list, or to the book on saws, sawmaking and sawmakers that I am hoping to be able to finish in the next 12 months. The other omissions from the list are those firms that were once either type 1 or type 2, had been taken over, and whose names were being perpetuated: they number in the dozens. One pitfall to be aware of is the tendency to attach “and Co” to a name; in the Cutlers’ Company list one of Thomas Turner’s other trademarks is given simply as “Suffolk” (they were based in Suffolk road), but only last week I found a backsaw, clearly a second quality tool, marked “T Suffolk and Co, Sheffield”, and I think there is little doubt who made it.

And of course it stands out that all these type 3 firms were from Sheffield. I have not been able to find any London or Birmingham firms that followed the practice of constructing an artificial entity that looked like a firm’s name, probably because when (and these instances were far fewer) they made second or third quality lines, they used an obvious trademark type of name that would not make one reach for a trades directory. The solitary example of an Alfred Beckett style takeover is that of Atkin and Sons (Birmingham), who used on their second quality saws the name of W Betts and Co, a company they took over during the 19th century. In the list I have deliberately not enlarged on the details of the type 1 firms, feeling that this would be something of a distraction, and take too much space anyway.

As with so much in tool history, the list is work in progress, and any additions to it will be most welcome. The function of TATHS as a member run society will be all the more enhanced if these additions can be made via the Newsletter.

Sawmaker ("type 1") or dealer/factor ("type 2")

Atkinson Bros, 1879-1904
Jonathan Beardshaw, 1825-1961
Alfred Beckett, 1868-1968
W & S Butcher, 1833-1924
Thomas Ellin (Footprint tools)1884- 2009
Thomas Firth, 1852-1929
David Flather, 1862-1924
T Garfitt, 1879-1898
Richard Groves, 1787-1924
Hale brothers, 1884-1974
Hallamshire steel and file co, 1876- 1904
H Hargreaves, Smith and Co, 1884-1954
Aaron Hildick, 1860-1960
Howell & Co, 1887-1895
Ibbotson brothers, 1816-1942
Lockwood brothers, 1841-1921
Maleham & Yeomans, 1876-79
William Marples, 1828-1965

Marsh brothers, 1852-1954
Naylor, Vickers, 1829-1929
Needham, Veall & Tyzack
Joseph Peace & Co Ltd, 1849-1954
W K C Peace, 1859-1942
Russell, Horsfield and White, 1879-1935
Samuel Newbould and Co, 1814-1899 then
Sanderson Newbould and Co, 1900-1974
CT Skelton & Co Ltd , 1879-1953
Robert Sorby and Co, 1833-1913
Spear and Jackson, 1760-present
Thomas Staniforth and Co, 1884-1921
Taylor Bros (Joseph & John), 1837-1971
Thomas Turner and Co, 1837-1928
Joseph Tyzack & Son, 1876-1939>
WA Tyzack and Co, 1876-1970
Ward & Payne, 1849-1916


Second quality spurious "sawmaking" firm ("Type 3")

E Parker and Son
A Bright & Co
Fullwood & Co
Charles Calow
A Rosling
R Vernon and Sons
T Jowitt
W Goodlad
Wade and Butcher
Edward Barber
H Barlow & Sons
James Tidmarsh
Sylvester & Co
G Woodhead & son
Henry Plaits
Timothy Scott
J Albert
H Hawke
W Moore
T Biggin
Vickers & Co
B Dawson
G Deakin
H Crookes & Co
J Smith and Co
H Thompson
J W Wing
Thompson & Son
Robt Baxter and Co
W Bradshaw & Son
EH Henry & Co
Wm Kent
J Dixon
James Cam
John Adwick
Joseph Milton
Fred Craven
W Hawcroft & Sons
J Blackwell & Son
S Fisher & Co
S Blaydon & son
Henry Rich
John Simpson & Co
George Hall
William Sykes & Co AB
W&S Heeley
Edgar Simmonds
Robt Trebor
John Cockerill
Lloyd Davies
John Riley & sons
J Taylor & Son
J & I Taylor
Joseph Taylor
John Taylor
Lupton and Co
T Suffolk & Co
Bowdon and Co
Thomas Monk
Daedalus and Co
G Turner & Co
S J Addis
J Worthy


This article by Simon Barley originally appeared in TATHS Newsletter 106, Autumn 2009.

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