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, October 23, 2014

History of Goldblatt Tool Co.

Goldblatt advertisement 1918 
Goldblatt Tool Co. has been a manufacturer and retailer of a full line of masonry tools in the Kansas City, Missouri area for over 100 years. Goldblatt sold directly to retail customers for decades, so many of their catalogs survived.

According to the Goldblatt Tool Company's version of its history, "In 1885 when a Russian immigrant named Henry Goldblatt, hoping to build a new life in the frontier town of Kansas City, opened the 'H. Goldblatt Tool Company' it was with the unbridled optimism that was sweeping the United States."

The real story, researched from, other internet sources, and a Goldblatt family member, follows. Thank you to Andrew Goldblatt for his photographs.

Henry H. Goldblatt was born about July, 1855, as Henry Milner in Lithuania. Henry took the surname Goldblatt as a ruse to avoid conscription. According to the family, an adopted child could not get drafted in the czar's army. Henry, his wife Mary, and 3 children emigrated to the United States around 1882, and later had 2 more children.
Henry Goldblatt's hardware store, 1425 Grand Ave., around 1901
Henry began business in Kansas City, MO, selling second hand furniture. In the 1897 city directory, he owned a saloon at 1434 E. 18th St. In the 1900 city directory he owned a second hand store at 1425 Grand Ave. In the 1901 directory, the business description had changed to retail hardware, with the family living upstairs at 1425 Grand Ave. By 1906 the retail hardware store had moved to 1410 Grand Ave.

1909 Sanborn map, 1400 block Grand Ave.
1896 Sanborn map, 1434 E. 18th St.

Not until the 1909 city directory is Henry listed as having H. Goldblatt Tool Co. at 1402 Grand Ave. In 1910 the company issued Catalogue No. 6, which suggests that No. 1 was in 1904. Henry's fourth child, Louis I. Goldblatt (1887-1955) was a manufacturer’s agent with the same business and home address as Henry.

In 1922 Goldblatt built a distinguished brick and stone 2-story brick building at 1522 Walnut St., Kansas City. The street number has changed to 1520 Walnut St. The building is in a National Historic District, and is described on page 6 of this document.

The 1933 city directory lists Louis I. Goldblatt as president of Goldblatt Tool Co., and his older brother Philip G. Goldblatt (1878-1961) as vice president-secretary-treasurer. Henry died in 1934. The illustration to the right is from their 1928 catalog and is not identified but is likely a member of the Goldblatt family.

After World War II, Louis's son-in-law Alexander A. Levy (1914-2007) was president, Louis's son Melvin Lloyd Goldblatt (1922-2012) was treasurer, Philip Goldblatt was vice president, and Philip's son Norman F. Goldblatt (1908-1981) was secretary. The company moved to 1910 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO in 1949. An interesting aside is that Melvin left the company and moved to California in 1960, where he was bookkeeper for the rock band Jefferson Starship. Melvin Goldblatt obituary Alexander Levy obituary  Norman F. Goldblatt

Goldblatt Tool Co. employees, November 1953
Advertisements and catalogs from 1960-1969 list Simon (Si) Kraft (1924-1990) as Sales Manager. Ronald G. Meyer was National Sales Manager of Goldblatt Tool Co. from 1969 to 1981. Mr. Kraft and Mr. Meyer co-founded Kraft Tool Co. of Shawnee, Kansas in 1981. Business Week 

Around 1963 or 1964, steel maker Bliss and Laughlin Industries bought Goldblatt Tool Co. from the Goldblatt and Levy families. In 1965 the company built a 200,000 square feet manufacturing facility on a nine acre site at 511 Osage Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas.

In 1982 Bliss and Laughlin changed its name to Axia Inc., and in 1984 a group of investors acquired Axia in a leveraged buyout. The new company sold Bliss and Laughlin Steel Co., leaving Goldblatt Tool Co. as its largest division.

Axia sold Goldblatt and another division to Stanley Works in 1991, and Stanley continued to operate the plant at 511 Osage Ave. Goldblatt’s market share declined after the sale, resulting in Stanley’s selling the division to FinishPro Tools of Lenexa, Kansas in 2006. In 2010 Goldblatt Tool Co. was sold again, to Hangzhou Greatstar Tools Co., Ltd. (HKGS) of Hong Kong, China, operating under Goldblatt Industries, LLC. Goldblatt press release YouTube video 2011 

Under Vintage Trowel Catalog Downloads is a high quality scan of the Goldblatt Tool Co. 1938 Catalog. It includes tools and clothing for brick masons, stone masons, cement workers, and plasterers. Due to the file size, it is broken into 2 downloads, pages 1 to 43 and pages 44 to 80. This is only half of the 160-page catalog. The rest is not scanned, including concrete molds, machines, and paint. More scans of Goldblatt catalogs are coming.

Norman F. Goldblatt 

1938 catalog

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Japanese Trowels

Here are several sites and searches that show a variety of Japanese masonry and plastering tools:

Monotaro construction tools - trowels - trowels

eBay US - Akacho trowel manufacturer

eBay US - Midoricho trowel manufacturer

Japanese sakan kote trowel
Manufacturers include:
Tokyo Nishikan

History of Red Devil Tools, Smith & Hemenway Co., Landon P. Smith, Inc.

Red Devil, Inc. is the best known US manufacturer of glazing tools and putty knives, and they also made cement tools at one time. A summary of their history follows:
  • Frank (Francis) Ross Woodward (1845-1931), of Hill, New Hampshire, invented glass cutters and began making them in the 1870s, eventually as Woodward Glass Cutter Co. 
  • In March 1898, Landon P. Smith (1869-1946) and John Francis Hemenway (1856-1926) founded Smith & Hemenway Co. in New York City. Among other hardware products, they sold Woodward's glass cutters. John Francis Hemenway biography
  • Although it began as a sales and import firm, Smith & Hemenway soon began manufacturing their own tools using Red Devil as a company trademark. Google Books - 1921 article Their best selling products during this period were over 100 styles and sizes of pliers. Smith & Hemenway pliers   
  • In 1925 Landon P. Smith began a successful effort to take control of the company from Hemenway, accusing Hemenway of neglecting the business. The ownership and name changed in 1926 to Landon P. Smith, Inc., operating at 106 Coit St., Irvington New Jersey. At this time the pliers line was sold to Crescent Tool Co., and Smith's new firm merged with Woodward Glass Cutter Co., concentrating on making painting and glazing tools. Numerous advertisements from 1926 through the early 1940s confirm the name Landon P. Smith, Inc.
  • The 1929 purchase of Master Manufacturing Co. added a line of paint hooks and related products, and in 1932 Smith acquired Vosco Tool's wood scrapers line. Also in 1932, company leadership passed to Smith's son-in-law George Ludlow Lee (1901-1966). George Ludlow Lee photograph 
  • The name changed to Red Devil Tool Co. in 1945, according to the journal, "Factory Management and Maintenance". This contradicts Wikipedia - Red Devil, Inc. Company leadership passed to George Ludlow Lee, Jr. (1926-1999). 
  • Red Devil Tool Co. was located at 2400 Vauxhall Rd., Union, New Jersey in late the 20th century. Google Maps - former Red Devil facility, Union NJ, now demolished
  • In 1965 Red Devil registered the trademark "Dresden" for a line of masonry, plaster, and tile tools, and sold those for an unknown time. At least some of those tools were made in Japan. The Dresden trademark expired in 2006. Dresden trademark history Red Devil Tools Catalog 26 1965
  • Red Devil, Inc. is still a family-owned business, located in Pryor, Oklahoma. Red Devil, Inc. website
The chronology above disagrees with several published histories of the companies involved, including Red Devil Inc. and Wikipedia. My account uses 2 or more sources each from the time periods. The most significant disagreement is with Smith and Hemenway starting the firm in 1872 in Hill, NH. There is no evidence that they ever lived in Hill, and in 1872 Smith was 3 years old and Hemenway was 16 years old.

Here is a scanned copy of a small, early Smith & Hemenway catalog, when they were located in New York City, and much larger Green Book of Hardware Specialties & Red Devil Tools, Sixth Edition
Red Devil putty knife, rosewood handle, pewter bolster 

Red Devil brochure 1939
Red Devil Dresden catalog 1969

Red Devil cement groover and edger

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Curb Tools

Antique curb tools, usually made of cast iron, are rare. This example is a Miles Craft, by Milescraft Manufacturing Co., 10409 Meech Ave.,Cleveland, OH.