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, February 25, 2016

History of Brades, Skelton & Tyzack Ltd., The BST Group

The BST Group, or Brades, Skelton & Tyzack Ltd., was a business formed in 1962 from those venerable English tool manufacturers (Grace's Guide). This is the builders' tools section of BST's 1963 catalogue. BST manufactured a full line of builder's tools, including WHS and Tyzack brick trowels, plastering trowels, concreting trowels and tools, brick hammers, scutches, mortar picks, bolsters, chisels, and slater's tools. BST became part of Spearwell Tools in 1967.

The individual Companies of William Hunt & Sons The Brades Limited and Joseph Tyzack & Son Limited have been known for generations as the manufacturers of the finest Brick and Plastering Trowels in the country. The Brand Names "W.H.S." and "3-LEG" have long been established bywords with Bricklayers and Plasterers everywhere, some expressing a preference for one brand and some the other. Now that these two great Companies are both operating in the B.S.T. Group the best of manufacturing methods, highly skilled craftsmanship and vast resources are pooled to meet the ever increasing demand and to enhance still further the quality and finish of this comprehensive range of specialised products.


A link to the entire BST catalogue is under Vintage Trowel and Tool Catalog Downloads.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Astle Tool Co. of Annandale, NJ, and Union Steel Tool Co., Plainfield, NJ

Iron Trade Review, Vol. 47, 1910
Steel, Vol. 48, 1911
Astle Tool Co. of Annandale, New Jersey and Union Tool Steel Co., Plainfield, NJ were connected by the same tool maker. George W. Astle was born 10 Oct., 1861, in New Jersey, and died in 1941. Astle was trained as a blacksmith by his father, James T. Astle. George Astle made a brick trowel, mill picks, facing hammers, and other tools for stone. He worked in Annandale in Hunterdon County up to 1910, when he joined with businessmen Thomas F. Budlong and Ellsworth P. Baylor to form Union Steel Co., also called Union Steel Tool Co., with offices in nearby Plainfield, Union County, NJ. Apparently the business was short-lived or was bought by another tool maker, because no advertisements or articles appear after 1911. Union Tool Steel Co. is not listed in the 1912 Plainfield directory.

There is more information about George W. Astle in the book, Early Tools of New Jersey and the Men Who Made Them, by Alexander Farnham. Astle's brick trowel is pictured on page 65. It is deeply stamped G. W. ASTLE ANNANDALE, N.J. U.S.A. An 1886 panoramic map of Annandale shows James T. Astle's shop.

G.W. Astle mill pick head

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

C.M. Long Trowel Co., Toledo, Ohio

The Bricklayer Mason and Plasterer, April 1918
C.M. Long Trowel was a small company that was in business in Toledo, OH from 1918 to the early 1920s. Clyde M. Long, C.C. Montis, Asa Smith, T.P. Crawford, and H.M. Crawford filed for incorporation 19 March, 1919, with capital of $10,000. Clyde Merit Long was a union brick mason and also an inventor with at least 2 US patents. He ran the company from his home at 728 Parker Ave., but it is not known where the tools were manufactured. As pictured in the 1921 advertisement, he made a forged brick trowel, plasterer's finishing and browning trowels, and a level with an adjustable vial in pine or mahogany.

The brick trowel has a distinctive crook in the shank (neck), which would make it easy to identify to a collector today. This feature was advertised as being more ergonomic and giving greater control, but the curve was reduced between the 1918 and 1921 ads. The trowel was made in 2 widths and 2 pitches (heights, lifts), with wood or leather handle.

Clyde Merit Long was born in Ohio 22 Dec., 1877, and died after 1937. He married Sarah Almina Smith, and their one child, Asa Alden Long, was a world and US checkers champion, a game he learned from his father and grandfather.

Company ads appeared prominently from April 1918 to 1921 in The Bricklayer, Mason, and Plasterer, the journal of the Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers International Union of America. The ads stated that their tools were invented by Clyde M. Long, but I was unable to find any US patents for trowels or levels. He received US Patent 1,162,790 for prepared mortar on 7 Dec., 1915, and US Patent 1,547,178 for a milk-bottle holder on 28 July, 1925.
The Bricklayer Mason and Plasterer, 1921