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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

History of Fayette R. Plumb Inc.

Fayette R. Plumb was one of the major American tool makers of the late 19th and 20th centuries, and their products included a variety of hammers for brick and stone. Their factory was within walking distance of Henry Disston and Sons, another firm whose market dominance was a result of high product quality, management skill, and a dedicated work force. This chronology of Fayette R. Plumb,  Inc. owes much to Yesteryears Tools.

Plumb brick hammers sold in 1924
1856 – Jonathan Yerkes (1830-1897) relocated his Moreland, Pennsylvania works to the former borough of Frankford, PA, annexed by Philadelphia in 1854.

1867 – After completing his formal education, Fayette Rumsey Plumb (1848–1905) took a job with the hardware firm Lloyd, Supplee & Walton in Philadelphia, intending to learn the hardware business. This link is a photograph of a painting of Mr. Plumb.

1869 – Plumb formed a partnership with Jonathan Yerkes. Yerkes and Plumb began building a new works in Bridesburg, another former borough just south of Frankford, adjacent to the Pennsylvania Railroad.

1887 – A complete takeover by Plumb began with Yerkes's retirement in April, 1886. Jonathan Yerkes initially sold his stake in the company to his brother Edward A. Yerkes. Shortly thereafter Edward A. sold out to Plumb but the Yerkes & Plumb name was maintained on products for some time. Other Plumb brands included Y & P with an anchor and Anchor Brand, possibly used until the 1930s.

1899 – Incorporated as Fayette R. Plumb, Inc., with Mr. Plumb as president. A manufacturing directory published the same year gives Plumb's address as East Tucker St. and Trenton Ave.

1901 – Fayette Rumsey Plumb, Jr. (1877-1966) was treasurer.

1905 – The elder Mr. Plumb died suddenly while on a trip.

1906 – Fayette R. Plumb's products in a hardware whole catalog.

1910 – The company began construction of a plant in St. Louis, Missouri. The project was overseen by Calvin Perry Bascom, who then became general manager of the St. Louis facility.

Plumb's Philadelphia plant (before 1918)

1918 – Company officers and management were:
Fayette R. Plumb Jr., President
Joseph H. Plumb, Treasurer
John M. Williams, Secretary
Frank L. Campbell, Assistant Sales Manager
S. Herbert Logan, Statistician
William D. Plumb, Factory Manager
William J. Walsh, Plant Superintendent
J.A. Mellon, Comptroller

1919 – History of Plumb's production during World War I.

1920 – Fayette R. Plumb, Jr. was president, his brother William Dodman Plumb (1888-1944) was works and employment manager. The 1920 Sanborn fire insurance map shows Plumb's works on James St. between Buckius St. and Wakeling St. To see the map click this link and then scroll down Content to the sheet Philadelphia-19161929-Vol11_sheet1020. To go directly to a copy I made of the same map, click here.

1920 Sanborn map, Fayette R. Plumb
1929 – Plumb's mailing address was 4830 James St., Philadelphia. Bing Maps

1944 – William D. Plumb died.

1945 – After World War II, Fayette Rumsey Plumb II (1920-1911) entered the family business, eventually becoming vice president in charge of manufacturing. His father was William D. Plumb.

1953 – Fayette R. Plumb Jr. stepped down as president after 48 years, and was replaced by his son D. Rumsey Plumb.

1960 – Their mailing address was 4837 James, Philadelphia 37, PA.

1966 – Fayette R. Plumb Jr. died.

1971 – Plumb Company was acquired by the Ames Co. of Parkersburg, West Virginia. Ames was owned by industrialist and philanthropist Bernard Patrick McDonough Jr. (1903-1985), and labels and advertisements identified it as a McDonough Company.

1980 – The Plumb division of Ames was sold to Cooper Industries, Inc. of Houston, Texas (the date is according to a Cooper catalog). Cooper placed Plumb in its Cooper Group operating division with other hand tool brands including Crescent, Lufkin, Nicholson, Weller, and Wiss. The Cooper Group's address was PO Box 728, Apex, NC 27502.
Plumb Cooper 24 oz. brick hammer
1981–  A new Plumb factory opened at 3012 Mason St., Monroe, NC.

1982 – Fayette R. Plumb II retired as Vice President in Charge of Manufacturing; the Philadelphia factory was closed. A supermarket was built on the site north of James St., and  the building was converted to The Baptist Worship Center in 2007. One surviving Plumb building is on the south side of James St. Google Street View in September 2014 shows the rear wall of Plumb’s handle and coal storage building (below).

2010 – Cooper Hand Tools division was spun off into Apex Tool Group, a joint venture of Danaher Corp. and Cooper Industries. Apex Tool Group had over 30 brands including Plumb. “Apex is a company that Danaher and Cooper formed in 2010 by merging their individual hardware making assets. Danaher and Cooper each hold 50% of Apex Tool.” Plumb tools are being made outside the United States, primarily in China.

October 2012 – Danaher Corporation and Cooper Industries sold Apex Tool Group to Bain Capital.

Plumb's hammer brands in 1940 included these, starting with the most expensive:
Yerkes & Plumb knapping hammer
Plumb Chrome
Plumb Au-to-graf
Plumb Favorite
Plumb Leader

Plumb's other brands, marks, and labels included these:
James West & Co. (early, second quality)
Vulcan Tool Co. (early, second quality)
Q. C. Mfg. Co. (third quality line)
Quaker City Mfg. Co. (for hardware wholesalers)
Philadelphia Tool Co. (Plumb’s bought the company)
Private label production for major hardware wholesalers

History of Nutting & Hayden, Concord, NH

Nutting and Hayden described themselves as manufacturers of granite cutters’ and quarry tools. Their office and factory were at  12 Ferry St., Concord, New Hampshire. There are no old buildings located at this site today. The business began in 1881 as a partnership between Luther Morse Nutting (1846-1924) and Henry W. Hayden (1856-1917). Mr. Nutting patented a bush hammer design, US 412,532, ‎filed Mar. 12, 1885, issued Oct. 8, 1889.

According to a 1906 Concord directory, Walter O. Sweet owned Nutting & Hayden and his residence was at 93 N. State St., Concord. Walter Orrin Sweet (1877-1916) married Daisy Ethel
Hayden (1881-1969), daughter of Henry W. Hayden and Eliza L. Loring Hayden.

The most recent advertisement found for Nutting & Hayden is 1907, although it is possible the business continued past that date. The article is from The Leading Business Men of Concord, and Vicinity, Embracing Penacook, East and West Concord, by George Fox Bacon, 1890.

Stone; an Illustrated Magazine, Volume 2, 1889
Nutting & Hayden bush hammer

Thursday, December 18, 2014

History of C.T. Skelton & Co., Sheffield

C.T. Skelton & Co. made some of the highest quality hand tools produced in Sheffield, UK. Following is an edited synopsis of their history from Grace's Guide:

C.T. Skelton and Co. of Sheafbank (or Sheaf Bank) Works, Sheffield, Yorkshire
1855 Company founded.
1902 Private Limited Company.
1914 Employees 400.
1961 Manufacturers of shovels, forks, picks, engineers and garden tools. 250 employees.
1962 Brades and Nash Tyzack Industries merged with C.T. Skelton and Co. of Sheffield to form Brades, Skelton and Tyzack, making garden, contractors and some agricultural tools.
1967 Became part of Spearwell Tools

CT Skelton plasterers' trowel
CT Skelton brick hammer

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

S. Tyzack & Son 1957 Catalogue Now Available

S. Tyzack 1957
From a book seller in the UK, I have just received S. Tyzack & Son's Ltd. Tools, their 1957 catalogue. Plasterers', bricklayers', and moulders' tools are on pages 80 to 87. The brands are Brades and WHS, but please note that S. Tyzack & Son is a different company than Joseph Tyzack of Sheffield, the company whose successor owned the Brades and WHS brands.

This is the only scanned S. Tyzack catalogue I can find on the internet.

S. Tyzack part 1, pages 1 to 53
S. Tyzack part 2, pages 54 to 108 including index

"In 1839, 30-year-old sawmaker Henry Tyzack moved from Sheffield to Shoreditch, just outside the City of London. Henry's father Samuel was a sawmaker, as was his younger brother Joseph and his uncle, Thomas Tyzack. We do not know exactly when Henry started making saws and other tools under his own name, but 1843 is the date used by the successor firms. In 1861 or shortly afterwards, Henry transferred the business (with two employees) to his eldest son, Samuel, who in 1860 had leased a small shop of his own. By 1871 Samuel had five employees. Henry died in 1876 and Samuel died in 1903.

"The "& Son" in the name S. Tyzack & Son likely refers to Edgar, born in 1877.... The name changed to S. Tyzack & Sons in 1905, after Edgar Tyzack inherited the business.

"Throughout its history, the Tyzack firm resold tools made by others and also sold tools that they made themselves. Their product line primarily consisted of hand tools for the carpentry and cabinetmaking trades.... The company operated until 1987 when it was finally wound down."
Source of quote

Sunday, December 7, 2014

C. Drew & Company's Masonry Tools

C. Drew & Co. was a celebrated tool maker in the seaside town of Kingston, Massachusetts. C. Drew was founded by Christopher Prince Drew (1815-1907). Since its history is covered thoroughly elsewhere, there is no need to repeat it here. In addition to its famous caulking irons, Drew made a few masonry tools. These are well documented on the site, C. Drew & Co. Tool Collectors Research Forum:

C. DREW & CO. Brick, Tile, and Masons Chisels

C. Drew hammer head, unknown type
C. DREW & CO. Hammers (Masons and Tile Setters)

C. DREW & CO. Masons Brick Trimmers or Sets

C. DREW & CO. Brick Jointers

C. DREW & CO. Pitching Tool

C. Drew brick jointer

Saturday, December 6, 2014

History of Cincinnati Tool Co., Hargrave Co., Warren Tool Corp., Warren Tool Group

Cincinnati Tool Company, Hargrave Company, and their successors manufactured masonry and other chisels, drill bits, and a wide variety of clamps.
Hargrave The Cincinnati Tool Co. Catalog 39-B in full color

1877 Cincinnati Tool Co. founded, eventually owned by Edward Hollister Hargrave (1859-
1912) and then his son John Morris Hargrave (1889-1975).
Edward H. Hargrave obituary 1912

1901 Located in Cincinnati, OH, operated by E.H. Hargrave.

1911 Cincinnati Tool Co. located in Norwood, OH.

1912 Google Books

1915 Google Books

1925 Changed name to Hargrave Co., operated at 1951 Waverly Ave., Norwood, Ohio by John Morris Hargrave.
Hargrave catalog page, masonry chisels 

1955? Acquired by Warren Tool Corp., of Warren, Hiram, and Garrettsville, Ohio. Warren also owned Columbian vises, Ken-Tool automotive, Kal-Equip Co., Iron City Tool Works, Quikwerk.

1970? The Warren Group established as Warren Tool's marketing division for all manufacturing operations.

1994 Warren Tool was sold to Wilton Corp., Palatine, IL, and continued to operate as Warren Tool Group.

2002 “In 2002, the Wilton Tool Company and…Warren Tool were acquired by WMH Tool Group (Walter Meier Holding Company AG).” The Warren Tool Group trademark held by Warren Tool Corp. was cancelled in 2002.

2014 “…Tenex Capital Management New York City, NY acquired the Jet, Powermatic and Wilton brands from Walter Meier and changed the company name to JPW Industries….”
Wilton Tools Company History

Wilton Hargrave clamps and chisels are currently for sale at industrial suppliers and Amazon, but are not on Wilton’s website. At least 2 Hargrave trademarks have expired.

History of Dasco, Damascus Steel Products Co., Rockford, Illinois

The firm was originally Damascus Steel Products Co., then Dasco, and Dasco Pro since 1984. Their current address is 340 Blackhawk Park Ave., Rockford, IL. Earlier addresses include 2215 Kishwaukee St., where they still have a plant. Their product line over the past century has included thousands of tools and cutlery items, including a variety of brick, concrete, and tile chisels. 

Damascus Steel Products was founded in 1921 by a group of investors, and this press release appeared in several publications around March 1922: "Damascus Steel Products Corporation, Rockford, Ill., has been incorporated to manufacture and deal in tools, machinery and merchandise. Capital $50,000. The incorporators are C.F. Maitland, C.P. Twomey, J.R. Hughes and Jacob Aaron.”  The following men were instrumental in the company's early years, with their positions if known:
Dasco 1925 

Charles F. Maitland, president
J.R. Hughes, vice president
A.T. Hayes, vice president
Carl A. Palmgren, vice president and production manager
Dr. C.V. Nyman, secretary, a prominent physician
C.P. Twomey, secretary
Jacob Aaron, treasurer
Harry M. Hanson, treasurer, later president Harry M. Hanson biography

Carl A. Palmgren, a Swedish immigrant trained as a machinist and in tool making, provided the necessary technical and managerial experience to the new company. He had been plant superintendent of the Enderes Manufacturing Co. in Minnesota. Carl A. Palmgren biography
Dasco toothed bush hammer

Damascus began in leased space at 1500 14th Ave. (now named Broadway), and they moved in a year or so to 1800 14th Ave., Rockford, where there are some surviving factory buildings.

Their 1925 catalog is the only vintage Dasco catalog available on the internet.    

Friday, December 5, 2014

History of W.H. Anderson, Detroit, Michigan

W.H. Anderson was a manufacturer and supplier of tools for stonemason's tools, cement tools, and other tools. They were located at 14 and 16 Macomb St., Detroit, Michigan, but no old buildings are in this area now. William Henry Anderson (1837–1914) founded the company in 1870 or 1871, took his 3 sons into the business, and it operated at least to World War II, when Harold Stewart was president. They used the names W.H. Anderson & Son, W.H. Anderson & Sons, and Anderson Tool & Supply Co. Here is a complete catalog of their cement tools from about 1910:
W.H. Anderson's Tools and Supplies for Cement Workers

Many of Anderson's stone hammers and chisels can be seen in this circa 1940 catalog; tools for working stone begin on page 35 of the scanned copy: J.M. Waterston Catalog

William Henry Anderson
"William H. Anderson, of the firm W.H. Anderson & Son, manufacturer of stonecutter’s tools and supplies, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1837. He received a liberal education and learned the tool and smithing trade. In 1856 he emigrated to America, spending some time in New York State. He settled in Detroit in 1861, working as a journeyman at his trade. In 1865 he became mastersmith at Fort Wayne, in the employ of the government, remaining three years. In 1868 he went to Pittsburgh, Pa. In 1870 he returned to Detroit and founded his present manufacturing business, purchasing a lot and erecting his factory and smith shop, of 40x106 feet, and 3 stories high, at Nos. 14 and 16 Macomb Street. In 1886 his son, James D. Anderson, was admitted as partner. William Anderson married Janet [or Jannet] McVittie in 1863. She was born in Scotland and died in 1865, leaving one son, James D., who was born in 1864. William Anderson married Elizabeth McVittie [Jannet's older sister] in 1871. They have three children, William R., Gilbert J., and Mary M."
History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan, 1890

In 1919 the company celebrated its 48th anniversary, and all 3 of the founder's sons were officers:
James D. Anderson, president 
Gilbert J. Anderson, vice president
William R. Anderson, secretary Biography
Article on Google Books

Set of Anderson stone chisels

Anderson brass edger
Anderson chisel

W.H. Anderson brass groover

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Miniature Trowels

Collecting or making miniatures is a specialized aspect of any hobby. Miniature tools can be toys, so-called salesman's samples, jewelry, or hand-crafted for the joy and challenge of making a small object. Here is a link to a UK eBay listing for a plasterer's trowel and a picture from the listing.
eBay UK

Unmarked trowel 4-1/2 inches x 2 inches