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.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

History of FIBCO, F.I. Blake Co.

FIBCO finishing trowel, 11.5" x 4.5"
The F.I. Blake Company, of Worcester in central Massachusetts, was one of the United States's least known finishing trowel manufacturers. Their primary products were inside and outside calipers, dividers, drawing compasses, scribers, screw gauges, putty knives, and wall scrapers.

Frank I. Blake founded the company with his name between 1910 and 1918. He was born in early 1868 in Maine, and worked as a machinist and superintendent of a machine shop. This experience apparently led him to begin manufacturing machinist's small tools, sharing a building at 24 Washington Square, Worcester in 1918.

After Blake's death 18 July 1930, his daughter Ruth took over the business and ran it until at least 1962. This makes her one of a very few women known to have managed a tool manufacturer.

Ruth A. Blake was born 7 Apr 1892 in Maine, and married John H. Beck. In May 1935 Ruth Beck began using the brand name FIBCO, and she applied for a trademark 29 Nov. 1945. By 1941, the operation had moved to 31 Shrewsbury St., Worcester, where they remained. Ms. Beck was manufacturing finishing trowels for concrete and plaster by 1958. It's unknown when the F.I. Blake Co. went out of business, but it appears to be in the early 1960s. The center of Wooster has been extensively redeveloped, and no old buildings remain at either of F.I. Blake Co.'s addresses. Frank Blake and Ruth and John Beck were living at 9 Winslow St. in 1920, and the Becks were still there in 1940.
Popular Mechanics 1953
FIBCO Multiple Gage Plate

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