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 on 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.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Colonel Tools, Sheffield

Liverpool Echo, 20 Apr. 1959
Tools labeled "Colonel Sheffield" have mystified collectors and others for at least 20 years. It was a house brand for Woolworths stores in the United Kingdom in the 1950s. The tools were manufactured by an unknown firm in Sheffield exclusively for Woolworths, and included trowels, paint scrapers, screwdrivers, and wood chisels.


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

History of Nelson & Doble

The San Francisco, California firm of Nelson & Doble was a partnership of two blacksmiths, Thomas Nelson (1821-1907) and Abner Doble (1829-1904). Operating from 1855 to 1878, Nelson & Doble were "manufacturers of sledges, hammers, picks, wedges, stone-cutters’, miners’, blacksmiths’, horse shoers’, pavers’ and railway contractors’ tools."  Their 1872 ad went to to state, "These tools are manufactured from cast steel made expressly for our use, by the celebrated makers, Thos. Firth & Sons, Sheffield, England, and are warranted superior to any in the market."

Thomas Nelson was born 12 May 1821 in Nebthwaite, Lancashire, England and arrived in the US at age 14. In 1842 he married Elizabeth Walmsley in Passaic, NJ, and he would have been a journeyman blacksmith by that time. He was living in San Francisco by 1852. He and his wife apparently divorced, and in 1888 he married Margaret Jennings, who was 39 years younger.  

The article below covers Abner Doble's career. The Wikipedia article on his grandson, also named Abner Doble, gives additional details of the elder Abner's life.

Pacific Coast Mercantile Director, Vol. I, No. 2, June 1872, pg. 37

Report of the First Industrial Exhibition of the Mechanics Institute of the City of San Francisco, 1858

Historical Abstract of San Francisco, Oscar T. Shuck, 1897, pg. 72

Monday, July 12, 2021

History of George W. Ziegler Machinery Co.

George W. Ziegler Machinery Co., Pittsburgh, PA, was a concrete machinery dealer and a manufacturer of concrete edgers and groovers. The company typically abbreviated their name to Geo. W. Ziegler Machinery Co., and known operating dates are 1917-1929. The company was named for George W. Ziegler (1877-1938). One example of their tools has shown up on eBay, and apparently they were offered in cast iron or bronze. 

The Pittsburgh Press, 5 May 1918, pg. 42

Contractors and Engineers, 1924, pg. 117

The Pittsburgh Press, 31 Dec. 1929, pg. 7


Monday, May 10, 2021

The Knox Concrete Block Machine

Thank you to a reader, Donovan, for sending these photos of his restored and unrestored Knox concrete block machines. His YouTube video 
demonstrates making a block, and his YouTube channel has more videos about other block machines.

Knox was one of the brands sold by Sears, Roebuck & Co. in 1915. 

 Sears, Roebuck & Co. Concrete Machinery, 1915, pg. 16

Monday, April 5, 2021

History of Dearosa Manufacturing Co.

Hardware Age, Vol. 162, No. 3, 15 July 1948.
Dearosa Manufacturing Co. was operating in 1948 in Brooklyn, NY. They manufactured tools for plasterers and masons, including Blu-Lite finishing trowels and forged brick trowels. By 1952, the firm had moved to Mt. Vernon, NY, and was making forged brick trowels and hawks. They appear in directories through 1958.

Hardware Age, Vol. 163 No. 10, 19 May 1949, pg. 211