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, June 29, 2017

History of John Yates & Company, Ltd.

John Yates & Co., Ltd. was an English forged tool maker in the Birmingham area. The firm also went by J. Yates & Co., and Yates & Co. Their products included brick trowels, axes, brick axes, billhooks, spades, eye hoes, picks, mattocks, and other edge and striking tools. An early specialty was hoes and other tools for overseas cotton, rubber, and tea plantations.  By 1900, Yates was also advertising hand tools for road construction. Yates brick trowels and catalogues are very rare.

Yates began before 1838, when it advertised in Osborne's railway guide book. At that time they operated Pritchet Street Works, and by 1863 had added Exchange Works on Rocky Lane in Aston, later Aston Manor, Birmingham. It remained at Exchange Works for another 100 years.      

Osborne's Guide 1838
There are occasional print references to the company through 1965. By 1953 John Yates & Co. was included in the Eva Industries Group of Companies owned by Eva Brothers Ltd., of Crabtree Forge, Clayton, Manchester.  The group was renamed Eva Industries in 1960, and it continued to acquire toolmakers, including Edge Tool Industries (Edward Elwell Ltd. and Chillington Tool Co.) in 1962, reaching at least 10 subsidiaries in 1972.  In 1982 Eva Industries was acquired by Anglo-Indonesian Corporation plc. Currently, the John Yates & Co. name is held by the Ralph Martindale Group of Companies, who still manufacture agricultural hand tools as Ralph Martindale & Co. and Chillington Tool Co.  The date that John Yates & Co. tools stopped being manufactured is unknown.

Yates & Co. brick trowel stamp
Yates & Co. brick trowel (incorrect handle)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

History of Louden Machinery Co. Cement Tools

Louden No. 2 curved edger
Louden Machinery Company is best known for cast iron barn hardware and fittings, and they also designed barns for their customers. Louden made and sold at least 7 cement tools designed for building dairy barns. As shown in their 1918 barn plans catalog, these tools supplemented the conventional edger and finishing trowel in constructing concrete floors and stalls. Tools shown in their 1918 catalog are the No. 1 straight edger, No. 2 curved edger, No. 4 small curb tool, No. 5 and No. 6 curved steel trowels. Louden's 1928 catalog features the No. 2, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6, No. 7 radius trowel, the No. 8 cut-out smoother, and the No. 9 curved edger. The 2 small tool are very similar to foundry molding tools.

Wikipedia has an excellent history of the business. "The Louden Machinery Company was an American engineering, manufacturing and design company based in Fairfield, Iowa. Founded by William Louden, the company in its early years manufactured and sold the patented hay carrier that he invented in 1867. The company later expanded into a wide variety of farm equipment and, in 1906, began an Architecture Department that reportedly designed more than 25,000 barns from 1906 to 1939." Louden also had a Canadian location in Guelph, Ontario.

Louden 1918 dairy barn plans catalog
Louden 1928 catalog