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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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Differences Between London and Philadelphia Pattern Brick Trowels

In the United States, the many brick trowel styles of the past have been reduced to the Philadelphia pattern and the London pattern. The Philadelphia has one width, its heel is set farther back, and the heel comes to sharp angles. The London has an elongated shape and is manufactured in narrow and wide widths. Originally the London heel had sharp angles but today it a rounded heel. Notice the variations in the definitions below and with the much older picture at the bottom.
11 inch W. Rose wide London (top), 11 inch W. Rose Philadelphia (bottom)
"Two shapes of brick trowels have become almost standard within the industry. One, the Philadelphia Pattern, has a square heel, while the other, the London Pattern, has a rounded heel which shapes the blade so that the mortar is carried a little further forward on the blade. The Philadelphia pattern is better suited to lay block as it allows more mortar to be placed on the blade, while the London pattern is designed for laying brick. The Wide London pattern is simply wider at the heel than the London which allows for even more mortar to be scooped on the blade."

Source: Hamilton Builders website


"The blade of a London-pattern trowel has one curved edge for cutting bricks, a skill that takes practice to perfect; the blade's other edge is straight, for picking up mortar. You can buy left-handed versions of this trowel or opt for a similar trowel with two straight edges.


A Canadian-pattern trowel (sometimes called a Philadelphia brick trowel) is also symmetrical, having a wide blade with two curved edges."


Although this source is recent the definition is much older: Popular Mechanics Complete Home How-To, by Albert Jackson, David Day (2009)



Approx. 100 years old


Marshalltown Trowel 1939 

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