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, July 6, 2017

History of Vet-O-Vitz Masonry Systems

Vet-O-Vitz brochure 
Vet-O-Vitz Masonry Systems, Inc., of  2786 Center Rd., Brunswick, Ohio, was a manufacturer of 3 electrically powered machines for masonry. These were the Vet-O-Vitz Mortar Spreader, Wall Grouter, and Floor Grouter. A scanned copy of a 4-page Vet-O-Vitz Mortar Spreader brochure which pictures all 3 machines is on the Internet Archive.

William Vetovitz (born in 1928) was the company owner and a bricklayer. He received US Patent 3148432 for the mortar spreader on 15 Sept. 1964. He received US Patent 3799714 on 26 Mar. 1974 for a version called a mortar applicator. The 4-page brochure is not dated, but appears to be from the 1970s. This 1975 book mentions the Mortar Spreader. By that year, Vet-O-Vitz Masonry Systems was making prefabricated brick panels for buildings and retaining walls. One of his best-known projects was for the Vontz Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company was in business as recently as 2013, but is now out of business.

Monday, July 3, 2017

History of Coulaux & Compagnie

Coulaux & Compagnie was a French manufacturer of tools and armaments, with manufacturing in Klingenthal, Molsheim, Mutzig, and Gresswiller. The operation at Klingenthal is famous for its swords. The Molsheim plant made tools, including a full line of brick trowels and finishing trowels. The arms manufacturing dates to 1729, and the business closed in 1962. More information (Fran├žais) (English), and here (German).

Their 1932 catalog is on the Internet Archive:
Coulaux & Cie. Truelles et Platoirs, Transplantoirs, Couteaux, Binettes  (Trowels & Finishing Trowels, Garden Trowels, Knives, Hoes)

A larger 1931 catalog is also on the Internet Archive:
Coulaux & Cie. Petit Outillage 1931 (Small Tools)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

History of James J. Ryan Tool Works

James J. Ryan Tool Works, later J.J. Ryan Tool Co. and J.J. Ryan Corp., made a brick chisel, chisels for metal and wood, and screwdrivers. J.J. Ryan Corp., if it is still active, is the parent company for Rex Forge, a contract forging works. Ryan has always been located in Southington, Connecticut, and the Plantsville neighborhood of the same city. Southington is best known as the home of Peck, Stow, and Wilcox (Pexto), a major manufacturer of machinery and hand tools. There were number of other steel forging businesses in Southington 100 years ago.  

James J. Ryan Tool Works Catalog No. 23, 1940s   
James J. Ryan was born 3 Oct 1872 in Southington, the son of Irish immigrants. In the 1900 US Census he was single and living with his widowed father Patrick Ryan, an iron molder. James was a bolt header at Clark Brothers Bolt Co., forging a variety of bolt heads on steel rods. At the 1910 US Census, James Ryan had been married 6 years to Mary A. Callahan, and he was a machinist at the same employer.

Between 1914 and 1917, according to Southington city directories, Ryan entered business as a tool manufacturer with David E. Conners at 81 Water St., Southington. By the 1920 directory, he was on his own at the same address, manufacturing primarily screwdrivers, according the 1920 US Census. By 1930 the business was at 315 Center St., Southington. Ryan took over making the famous Perfect Handle screwdrivers when Plantsville's  H.D. Smith & Co. went out of business between 1930 and 1933. The name changed by 1951 to James J. Ryan Tool Co.  

James Ryan continued to run the business as president, retiring in 1959 at age 87. Anna, the oldest daughter of James and Mary, worked in the business, eventually becoming secretary-treasurer. Harold Francis Donnelly (1915-1996), vice president and plant superintendent in 1951, became president after James Ryan. Donnelly was married to Helen D. Ryan, the youngest daughter of James and Mary. James Ryan died in Southington 26 Jun 1974, age 101.

Ryan brick chisel
In March 1964 the business had a fire, followed about 10 years later by another which destroyed the plant. Ryan then moved its operations to Rex Forge in Plantsville, which had space available. After a few years, the companies consolidated. The date Ryan stopped manufacturing tools is unknown.

James J. Ryan Tool Works Catalog No. 23, from the 1940s, is on the Internet Archive, but their brick chisel is not in this catalog.