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.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

W. Rose History in 1918 Magazine Article

West Philadelphia Station (Wikipedia)
This untitled article was in the trade magazine Hardware World in January 1918. The photo is of the railroad station mentioned in the article. W. Rose trowels were most likely used to build this magnificent building.

If your interest in hardware entices you to the East you can scarcely avoid passing West Philadelphia station on the Pennsylvania Railroad, a most ingenious junction where threads of traffic from all directions interlace at three levels. It was designed a century after William Rose forged the first American trowel on a spot just across Market street from the depot.

Lancaster, Pa., was then “the west” and stagecoaches thence met those from Baltimore in front of W. Rose’s door turning from the old turnpike into Market, then called High street, on the last stretch of their journey. Philadelphia was the capitol of the United States. George Washington had just left it to pass into that retirement for which he eagerly had longed. Then also war was paralyzing Europe. American ships were destroyed and this encouraged Rose in his competition with more powerful manufacturers of the old world. Thanks to the shifting character of building trades the stage coach which rattled over the cobbles before William Rose’s door needed to carry no publicity agent other than roaming customers who spread his reputation throughout English-speaking America.
A philosopher has claimed that loyal sons are more to be desired than great riches. The heart of W. Rose must have warmed when his boys began to take hold of his growing industry. Rudolph tempered the tools. Wesley was a grinder. Joe assembled plastering trowels. William Rose Junior saw that shipments were made and the wants of customers supplied. Older workmen in the plant still recall how “Billy” would grab his hat and duck around a corner when he saw approaching a customer with additional orders for his already congested workshop. They still tell how the brothers would enter neighboring taverns and seek to persuade their workmen to return and complete urgent orders.
Need of more room drove the brothers to move first to the northeast corner of Thirty-sixth and Filbert streets, and then in 1889 to Sharon, Pa., the present location. There the buildings have been enlarged twice in the last decade and the grunting engine complains loudly that a further expansion is becoming imperative.
In order to conserve mechanical skill unusual efforts are made by Wm. Rose & Bros. to decrease the frequency with employes change their occupations, known in technical language as “the labor turnover.” Even during such periods of depression as that which began in 1907 not a man is laid off except for inefficiency.
Some attention is also given by Wm. Rose & Bros. to housing mechanics and it is found that a man who has a chance to own his own home does not become a floater.

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