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.

Monday, April 28, 2014

History of Godwin & Burr and Burr's Damascus Tool Works

Burr advertisement 1906
A century ago, Burr was a major US manufacturer of molder's tools, along with Dobson and Monk. They began as Goodwin and Burr, and later traded under the name Burr's Damascus Tool Works. Burr was located in Detroit, Michigan.

The proprietors were Doctor Theodore Burr (1816-1897) and his son Celenus Lorraine Burr (1852-1940). The elder Burr, who went by Doctor T and D.T., was a machinist who received US Patent 544,477 for a steam engine. Both men were listed in an 1880 Detroit city directory as proprietors of Burr's Damascus Steel Works. In January 1902 Burr's Damascus Tool Works won a court case against a Michigan competitor who was using Burr's brand names.

Goldblatt carried Burr's full line in their 1938 catalog. Burr trowels can occasionally be found on the US and Canadian eBay sites. There are 4 pages of Burr tools in the 1921 W.H. Anderson catalog, another Detroit firm. An undated 2-page Burr catalog is at 

William Dobson began his career with Goodwin and Burr, then moved to Canastota NY to found his own company.

Burr molding tools 1913 advertisement
Burr moulders' tools 1938
Burr foundry molding trowels


  1. Very cool info....just bought a bucket of old plaster tools in which a #24 was included.

  2. You don't give no name for the tools who does that


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