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, September 25, 2014

Gießerei-Lanzette, German Foundry Molding Tools

Foundry molding tools are called Gießerei-Lanzette in German. Wikipedia - Lanzette (Gießerei)

W. or M. Barth made foundry molding tools in Cannstatt, an ancient town which became a district of Stuttgart, Germany in 1905. This short description of Barth's business is an 1895 book, "Beschreibung des Oberamts Cannstatt":

"...die mechanische Werkstätte von M. Barth in Cannstatt, welche als Spezialität Formwerkzeuge verfertigt und in Deutschland, sowie nach Österreich-Ungarn, Bosnien und Luxemburg exportiert…"

"...the mechanical workshop of M. Barth in Cannstatt, which manufactured specialty molds and exported to Germany and to Austria-Hungary, Bosnia and Luxembourg..."

Beschreibung des Oberamts Cannstatt
W. Barth foundry molding tool (top)
German foundry molding tools

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

History of E.C. Atkins & Co., Indianapolis, Indiana

E.C. Atkins plastering trowel
E.C. Atkins & Co. was a major saw and tool manufacturer in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1952 it was purchased by Borg-Warner Corporation. The Indianapolis factory was closed in 1960-61 and its operations relocated to Greenville, Mississippi. Nicholson File Co. bought the Atkins Division of Borg Warner in 1966. Atkins had 14 major product lines which Nicholson quickly consolidated or eliminated.

From the 1890s through the mid-twentieth century, Atkins made plastering and cement finishing trowels. The 1910 advertisement shows a plastering trowel with a patent-applied-for movable handle. I have links to 3 E.C. Atkins publications under Vintage Trowel Catalog Downloads.

E.C. Atkins 1906 catalog

Swedish Bricklaying Tools, Svenska Murarverktyg

Sweden has a very long tradition of making steel and tools, as described by Tekniska museet (Technical Museum) in Stockholm:
Ferrum – Swedish Iron and Steel through the Ages

KGC, founded 1950, is one of Sweden's trowel makers. Following is a translated quote from their website KGC History

Karl Gustav Cederberg, a skilled concrete worker, started the KGC's Bricklayer’s Tools 1 April 1950. KGC quickly became known for its high quality and good service, two qualities that still permeate the company.

In the 1950s there were not many shippers, thus KGC bought a Ford Anglia and delivered himself to building sites around the Stockholm area and up to Uppsala, which was then almost a day trip.

1966 sold the company to the Cederberg Hadar Gustafsson streamlined production and increased range. [In 1966 the company sold Cederberg to Hadar Gustafsson as streamlined manufacturing and extended range.] In 1979 KGC was acquired by Orwar Eriksson. On first September 2005, Patrik Wahlfridsson and Mats Engqvist took over the company.  The first catalog contained 30 products, most of them made ​​by KGC. 25 of these are still in the range and further approximately 1800 products. Many products are now, as then, developed by the KGC and we always listen to the end user to find optimum solutions to problems.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

History of Matthias Spencer and Sons, John R. Spencer and Son, Albion Steel Works, Sheffield

Matthias Spencer and Sons, Albion Steel Works, Sheffield, were in business from 1749 to 1968. They manufactured brick trowels and other products of forged, plate, and drawn steel, such as shovels, miner's picks, files, table knives, razors, and wire. In the 19th century the works were on Pea Croft, now Solly Street, Sheffield, a neighborhood of small factories and attached worker housing. According to the book, "Illustrated Guide to Sheffield & District 1879", they were called John R. Spencer and Son, Albion Steel Works at that time. The picture shows 3 cone-shaped cementation furnaces at the rear, indicating that Spencer was making their own steel from wrought iron and charcoal.

For an article about a surviving steel works and owner's house, located only a few blocks away from Matthias Spencer and Sons, see the fifth link below.

Grace's Guide - Matthias Spencer and Sons
Albion Steel Works picture, circa 1879
Wikipedia - Cementation process of steelmaking
Google Maps - Solly Street, Sheffield
Wikipedia - Well Meadow Street Crucible Furnace
Wikipedia - Surviving cementation furnace, Sheffield
Related article - Early Victorian Housing in Sheffield

Matthias Spencer brick trowel, missing handle 

Matthias Spencer 1895 (Grace's Guide)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Medieval Plasterer's Trowel

This is identified as, "A complete cast copper alloy plasterer's / bricklayer's pointing tool / trowel, of probable Medieval to Post Medieval dating (14th to 17th Centuries AD)." It is from Cheshire East, UK.

Medieval plasterer's trowel (4 views)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Roman Mosaic Hammer

The Roman mosaic hammer, or mosaic hammer, is used with a small anvil called a hardie or hardy to cut smalti (glass), stone, and marble for mosaic and terrazzo work. The hardie is usually driven into a wood block. This technique and tools are reportedly 2,000 or more years old. - tools
YouTube - Roman mosaic hammer & hardie

Mosaic hammer
Roman mosaic

Mosaic hammer and hardie

Macadamizing Hammer

The macadamizing hammer has a round head when viewed from the top, making every side a striking surface. It can be several shapes in the third dimension, including spherical, oval, ovoid, or disc-shaped. The handle length varies more than other hammers, from about 10 inches (25 cm) to 18 inches (46 cm) or 30 inches (76 cm) or more. Like other hammers for working stone, these were usually sold without handles, allowing the user to choose the best handle for the work. The macadamizing hammer was simply used to break or pulverize stone for road construction. Other names are macadam hammer, nappan knocker, and napping or knapping hammer.

"Macadam is a type of road construction pioneered by Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam around 1820. The method simplified what had been considered state of the art at that point. Single-sized aggregate layers of small stones, with a coating of binder as a cementing agent, are mixed in an open-structured roadway." Wikipedia Macadam

Macadam hammer from Maine, USA
Macadamizing hammer in new condition (USA)

Evansville Tool Works (USA) macadamizing hammer
French macadamizing hammer 
Macadamizing hammer, 12-3/4" handle

Thursday, September 4, 2014

How To Find Old Masonry Tools

Old, antique, and unique masonry tools can be found at the same places as other antiques, collectibles, and used items. Masonry tools are less common than other antiques, so finding them will require more effort. However, because demand for them is less, prices will be lower than for other antique tools.  

Yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores. Flea markets are usually the best and cheapest source for old tools of all kinds.

Antique stores and antique malls. Masonry tools show up occasionally in these outlets.

Antique tool clubs and other antique tool collectors.

Internet marketplaces, including eBay and Etsy. Keep in mind that sellers may not know the correct name for tools they are selling, so you may need to get creative with the words you use in your searches. Also check off "Used" to narrow down your results. See the screen shot from eBay of a search for the word "trowel".


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

History of Charles Monk Foundry Molding Tools

Charles Monk, 190 16th St. and 83 18th St., Brooklyn, NY was a major US manufacturer of molder's and plasterer's tools. Molding tools are usually identified as "C MONK" or "CM MONK". I have just scanned a Charles Monk catalog, date unknown but estimated about 1900. This is the only historic molders' tool catalog available on the internet. 
Charles Monk products 1895

Charles Monk catalog page 1
C Monk foundry molding trowels 
CM Monk foundry molder's tool