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Brian Read, our Whatsits editor, is unsure about these tools.

He writes:

I was going through some old boxes under my bench and I found a collection of what appear to be leather worker's tools. However when I looked in Salaman’s “Dictionary of Leatherworking Tools” I couldn’t see them. Also they are made of steel, which is unusual for leather working because the iron can stain the leather if used wet. Also in the same box were three agate burnishers, which was why I thought of leatherworking. It is possible that they were connected with signwriting/ gilding but I can’t find any listing of such things anywhere. I did acquire some sign writer’s brushes, stencils and gold leaf a few years ago which had come from an art shop which went bankrupt in 1939 and they may have been included with these.

I feel a little embarrassed by not being able to identify them – I’m sure I knew what they were when I collected them!


Jane Rees responded:

These are silversmiths’ burnishers. I tried to find an illustration in one of my catalogues but haven’t managed to find anything yet. However, I can assure you this is what they are. It also explains the agate burnishers as these are also used by silversmiths (as well as by gilders.) In years gone by when I traded in antique tools, I occasionally found and sold sets of these.

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