Please note

Because of the lack of published trowel and masonry tool histories, the information here is based on other sources that may be less reliable and certainly are incomplete. These include eBay and tools that I purchase myself that are the starting points for my research. I will write what I know as I learn it. If what you read here interests you, please check back often and look for revisions and corrections. Scanned catalogs are either mine or by Rose Antique Tools and used with permission, and are on Google Docs as pdf files. A few are links to other websites. Your photos and information are welcome. Please click on any picture to enlarge it. Comments are welcome, but any with links will be deleted as possible spam.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

History of Ridgely Trimmer Co.

Ridgely Trimmer Co., Springfield, OH, manufactured tools and equipment for the wallpapering and painting trades, including a line of putty knives. The original business was Ridgely Decorative Co., incorporated Oct. 24, 1894 by inventor Charles T. Ridgely and several family members to manufacture tools and sell wallpaper, paint, and other supplies. Control of the manufacturing operation passed to Jerry K. Williams in Oct. 1900, and it was named Ridgely Trimmer Co. A brief summation of their long history is here. The article states that the firm went bankrupt in 1957, but we have been unable to confirm that.

Several company catalogs and excerpts of other catalogs are on the Internet Archive

National Painters Magazine, Vol. 50, Aug. 1923, pg. 67

The following is quoted from A Standard History of Springfield and Clark County, Ohio, Vol. 2, Benjamin F. Prince, American Historical Society, 1922, pg. 166-167:

The Ridgely Trimmer Company, of which Jerry K Williams is the active head, is a large and prosperous industry and one of the most distinctive of the manufacturing enterprises centered at Springfield. It is the only factory in the world devoting its energies exclusively to the making of tools and supplies for the benefit of the decorator, painter and paper hanger. These tools, the product of a long line of inventive effort and experience, have served to lighten the burden of the world's work, and at the same time have enabled an increasing proportion of the world's population to secure and enjoy the advantages of the decorative arts in their own homes. How the business started is an interesting story. As usual it started with an individual who recognized the need of finding better methods, and had the inventive skill to devise something better than the tools then at his command.

This individual was Charles T. Ridgely, a paper hanger. When he first started work at his trade, like hundreds of other paper hangers at the time, he used a pair of shears with which to trim his paper. The use of shears continued until he decided that he could work much faster by using a knife. He designed a special knife for the purpose. Then one day while using it the knife slipped and one of his fingers was badly cut. His wife expostulated with him for using a knife, and said that after so many years of paper hanging he should be able to invent a safe and easy way of trimming paper. A woman's good advice and an accident were the original source of the invention of the Ridgely Trimmer. The first invention was relatively crude, and modem implements manufactured under the Ridgely name have only the basic principle in common with the first trimmer devised by Charles T. Ridgely about 1882.

Shortly after he had devised the invention, Mark Smith, a son of Mark Smith, who was a pioneer of Springfield, obtained an interest in it, and together these men made an exhibit of the trimmer at the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893. Their trimmer was awarded the only prize given to any device of that kind. This trimmer combined a straight edge and knife, and was used after the paste was applied. The softer the paper became the easier the machine worked and without danger of cutting the hand, chipping the straight edges or snagging the paper. A self -connecting gauge cuts the rotary blade against the straight edge and enables the operator to cut any weight paper without changing the gauge in the least.

It was in September, 1900, that Mr. Jerry K. Williams acquired the ownership of the Ridgely patents and plant. He organized a stock company known as the Ridgely Trimmer Company, and has been actively identified with the concern ever since and is its real directing head. When he took hold of the Ridgely Trimmer Company the output was one wall paper trimmer and one seam roller. The trimmer, which was then the dominating feature of the business, is now obsolete, and subsequent improvements and patents have resulted in a marvelously accurate and efficient machine now known throughout the world. Other devices have been incorporated in the manufacturing until the company now produces every tool known for the use of the decorator, painter or paper hanger. The company even employs experimental engineers whose sole business it is to devise or perfect tools that will relieve the hard work of the trade, produce more work with the same amount of labor and time, and add in general to the efficiency of an important branch of the constructive art.

The Ridgely Trimmer Company has a world-wide business. It owns a warehouse in England, and handles its business in Continental Europe, as it does in the United States, through its own salesmen and through jobbers. The company also has warehouses in Australia and South America. In the United States their warehouses are in New York City and San Francisco.

History of Meriden Cutlery Co.

 Meriden Cutlery Co. manufactured good quality cutlery in Meriden, CT, from 1855 to 1918, when Landers, Frary & Clark purchased it. As the catalog image below shows, Landers, Frary & Clark continued to make Meriden Cutlery Co. products until 1924. Meriden's products included the Anvil Brand line of putty knives with tropical hardwood handles.

W.P. Fuller & Co. Catalog H, 1924

Meriden Cutlery Co. factory, c. 1900 Source

Friday, January 31, 2020

History of E. Tressing & Co.

A History of the Norwegians of Illinois, A. E. Strand, 1905, pg. 505
E. Tressing & Co. was a Chicago, IL,  manufacturer and dealer in locks and hardware specialties, including cement tools. The company was located at 179-181 Lake St. in 1904. The principal was Eric Tressing (1866-1937), who was born in Oslo, Norway and came to the US with his parents when he was a boy.

E. Tressing & Co. No. 1 groovers

Monday, January 27, 2020

History of Wonder Manufacturing Co.

Wonder Manufacturing Co. groover
Wonder Manufacturing Co., Washington Court House, Ohio, was a small manufacturer of ranges, heating stoves and a few other products, operating from the 1890s into the 1910s. The company took advantage of their iron foundry to make cast iron cement tools of a conventional design. Although no advertising has been found for the tools, a few of them have survived.

The company president and treasurer in 1906 was Richard S. Quinn, vice president J. W. Brown, secretary W. W. Hamilton. The president and treasurer in 1912 was George Suskeep (possibly misspelled), vice president A. M. Bush, secretary and plant manager Harvey C. Wilson. The company entered receivership that year, and was reorganized in 1913 by E. L. Bush and others as New Wonder Co.

Stoves and  Hardware Reporter, Vol. XXIX, No. 14, 30 Sep. 1897, Pg. 11

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

History of Adamite Wheel & Manufacturing Co.

Hardware and Metal, 11 July 1914
Adamite Wheel & Manufacturing Co. is the only known Canadian manufacturer of concrete tools, including indent roller. Their primary product, which gave the company its name, was grinding wheels made from the mineral adamite. Their address in 1920 was 44 Ferguson Ave., Hamilton, Ontario.