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.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

History of Sturgis Cement Worker's Tools

Sturgis cement tool advertisement, date unknown
Sturgis cement worker's tools were a secondary brand sold by the large hardware wholesaler Baker, Hamilton & Pacific Co. of San Francisco. The firm was the result of a 1918 merger between Pacific Hardware & Steel Co. and Baker & Hamilton Co. Their first quality tool brand was Stiletto, but I can't find a record of Stiletto cement tools.

A Google Books "snippet view" from page 571 of their Catalog No. 8 stated, "The jointer and edger illustrated below are not intended for skilled mechanics' use. They are inferior in construction to the regular line of tools...." Despite that, the tools advertised appear to be as well made as any other steel concrete tools, and the Safetred Step Tool is cast bronze, as is the bottom of the jointer pictured here.

Sturgis cement tools are quite rare. The steel tools were probably marked with a paper label which would have washed off. The adjustable jointer has "STURGIS" stamped into the edge of the bronze.

Sturgis adjustable finishing jointer, bronze

Saturday, September 2, 2017

History of Heller Majestic Trowels

Heller Brothers Majestic trowel etching
Majestic trowels were first made by Irvin Otto Gierman (28 Oct. 1919 - 8 Aug. 1958), a World War II veteran and welder in Chicago, Illinois. Gierman was unable to find a satisfactory trowel for his personal use, so he decided to attempt manufacturing his own. Upon seeing his work, a large Chicago wholesaler gave him an order for 600 dozen. At its peak, Majestic Trowel made 15,000 dozen annually with a workforce of 20 in Franklin Park, Illinois, near Chicago.

Heller Brothers Majestic No. 310-6 6 inch pointing trowel
On 15 Oct., 1949, Heller Brothers Company of Newcomerstown, Ohio, purchased Majestic and moved all its equipment to Newcomerstown. Heller Brothers put Gierman in charge of trowel manufacturing. Trowels fit with Heller's product line of forged tools, including a brick hammer, many other types of hammers, blacksmith's and farrier's tools, and files of all types.

Heller Brothers Co. sold to Simonds Saw and Steel Co. in 1955, and the name changed to Heller Tool Co.  According to advertisements visible on "snippet view" on Google Books, Heller Majestic brick and plaster trowels were made through at least 1957. They were etched, not stamped, with the name and logo. The etching was light and tended to wear away quickly. This makes Heller Majestic trowels difficult to find and identify today.
Heller Brothers 1.5 pound brick hammer