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 on 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, November 2, 2013

History of William Johnson Inc., Newark, NJ, Trowel Maker

1910 advertisement
William Johnson made a variety of forged steel and cast iron tools in Newark, NJ. An eBay search shows dividers, calipers, pinch dogs, gas burner pliers, smelting ladles, a nail puller, a faucet seat cutter, scrapers, and dibbles. Mr. Johnson was a prominent businessman in Newark in 1872, as described in The Report and Catalogue of the First Exhibition of Newark Industries. Mr. Johnson was a member of the executive committee and a speaker at the 1872 exposition, and his company exhibited "a great case of carpenters' and other tools." The firm was advertising its brick trowels in 1910 and 1917. In 1958 it was sold to C.S. Osborne & Co. of Newark. C.S. Osborne continues to sell many of the items that Johnson made, including brick trowels, an edger, jointers, and finishing towels, including some with the Johnson name.

Full text of The Report and Catalogue
Short article in American Scissors and Shears (Google Books)
C.S. Osborne & Co. website

William Johnson pointing trowel
William Johnson pointing trowel etch

William Johnson brick jointer


  1. recently found a william johnson inc. tool. not quite sure what it is.

  2. I have a friend who has a tool with Mark Twain Johnson Newark New Jersey but it looks like a hand-made dueling pistol wooden curved handle with a pointed Steel Bullet Head looking tip what is it

  3. Sounds like a gardening tool used to plant bulbs, although it looks like something much cooler. Compare to ones on ebay.

  4. Rosemarycarroll@comcast.netMarch 28, 2021 at 1:28 PM

    I am a direct descendant of William Johnson. I am interested in purchasing any of his tools, particularly a pointing trowel with company name visible. Thank you.

  5. I have a couple of his tools if ur interested in them I believe family should have family things. My name is Matt u can email me if your interested and I can give u my number or send u pics whatever. My email is “

  6. I am William Johnson’s great granddaughter. I am interested in purchasing something made by his company. My email is


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