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, March 29, 2014

W. Rose 1929 Catalog Available Here

The 1929 W. Rose catalog is no longer available from the site where it has been for years. Fortunately I had saved it to my computer, so have now uploaded it to my site with permission.

W. Rose Book of Tools - 1929 catalog
W. Rose in 1959 Star Sales catalog  

W. Rose building, 2011 
Photo used with permission from Flickr

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Plastering Trowels

This fine example is a Joseph Tyzack & Son 3-Leg Centenary Plastering Trowel, still wrapped in the original oiled paper.  


Bowdon & Co. Sheffield Trowels

Bowden & Co. stamp on brick trowel
Bowdon & Co. was a secondary brand of Joseph Tyzack & Son, Sheffield, and registered as a trademark by Tyzack in December, 1888. Joseph Tyzack's first business was at 160 Fitzwilliam St., then he moved a block over to Bowdon Street, the source of the name Bowdon & Co. The Bowdon & Co. stamp appears on brick and pointing trowels, hand saws, back saws, hatchets, and other tools. Tyzack relocated to Meersbrook Works on Valley Road in Heeley in 1876.

Bowdon & Co. 10 inch brick trowel
Bowdon & Co. pointing trowel

Monday, March 24, 2014

Right Handed and Left Handed Brick Trowels

Historically, some manufacturers offered brick trowels in right and left handed versions. A right handed trowel is for a right handed user. As the trowel is held, the right edge is curved more than the left edge. The left handed trowel is the reverse.

Disston right handed wide London brick trowel 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Scan of Marshalltown Trowel's 1945 Catalog

Marshalltown Trowel Co. numbers their catalogs, and at least some early ones do not have a date issued or copyrighted. The 2009 catalog is No. 115, so I subtracted 45 from 115 and concluded that No. 45 is 70 years old, 1939. According to a company employee, this id the 1945 issue. It is a small book, 5-7/16" x 8-5/16" (142 x 210 mm), printed on high quality coated paper. There is a good illustration on page 17 called "Comparative Patterns" showing outlines of 9 trowel patterns. Note that the brick trowels have an etching and not a stamp. I have not yet found a Marshalltown trowel with an etching.

Marshalltown Trowel Co. Catalog No. 45 

Marshalltown Catalog No. 45 (1939)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

History of Goodell Company's Works, Antrim, N.H.

The Goodell Co. of Antrim, New Hampshire, made a variety of household items from steel and cast iron, including high quality putty knives with rosewood handles and pewter bolsters. Goodell Co. is best known for its apple peelers and cherry pitters. The link below will take you to a zoomable picture showing Goodell's office, main factory, paper box, saw mill, box factory, scale shop, handle shop, and trip hammer and grind stone shop.

Illustration of Goodell Co. Works

Goodell Co. putty knives
Goodell Co. Works

Thursday, March 6, 2014

History of Vulcan Tool Manufacturing Co.

Vulcan Tool Manufacturing Co. of Quincy, Massachusetts has made specialized paving, masonry, and steel tools. Historically, their line included 2 stone hammers, a paving hammer, hand drills, wedges and shims, Belgian paving rammer, diagonal point dog chisel, brick clamp, air-powered paving breaker bits, and tools for riveting steel. Note that the hammers are pictured without handles. I have links to several Vulcan publications:

Vulcan Tool brochure, old, undated

"The Vulcan Company, Inc. was first incorporated as Vulcan Tool Manufacturing Company in 1908 with Alexander Clark as its first president. Clark was first trained as a blacksmith in his native Scotland at age 14. He came to the United States at age 25 and opened a small blacksmith shop in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1890, which supplied tools used in local granite quarries. Quickly developing a reputation throughout the Boston area for his high quality products, Clark started Vulcan Tool Manufacturing Company; the company name being fashioned after Vulcan, the Greek patron god of workmen who used fire to forge weapons.

"Alexander Clark's son, A. Wendell Clark, entered the business in 1910. With the transition from stone to concrete being used in construction and the paralleled evolution of pneumatic hammers and rock drills, the company began to gain an outstanding reputation for the design and manufacture of pneumatic hammer tool accessories."

"A. Wendell guided the company's growth from 1942 to 1966, when his son, W. Gordon Clark became president. Under his direction, the company moved in 1978 from Quincy to a new, modern manufacturing plant in South Hingham, Massachusetts, where it is located today. The move also brought a name change. The corporate name was shortened to The Vulcan Company, Inc.
W. Gordon Clark's son, Alexander G. , became president of the company in 1985, and is still leading the business today. His son, Alex Jr., represents the fifth generation of the family to work for the company."

Vulcan has a slide show of old plant photos and company leaders on their website.

Vulcan Tools website