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 and 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, June 15, 2014

History of Buffum Tool Co.

Buffum Tool Co., in the town of Louisiana, Missouri, made tools for the bricklayer, cement worker, plasterer, and stone mason, as well as many other forged steel and cast iron products. From Buffum's other products, it seems likely that the masonry tools included brick chisels, stone chisels, brick jointers, and cement tools.

Frank Washburn Buffum (1859-1922) founded Buffum Tool Co. around 1907, after selling a telephone company. With his brother Charles, Buffum was also in the lumber business in 1909-1910 and founded the Nord-Buffum Pearl Button Co. in 1902. After Frank Buffum’s death, Buffum Tool Co. was sold in 1924 and it became Buffum Tools, Inc., William George Marqua, President. Apparently Marqua left the firm in 1926, and according to one source Buffum Tools Inc. continued to operate until about 1940.

Besides being a prolific manufacturer and energetic businessman, Frank Buffum was an inventor and held several US patents in his name. His tools have a reputation for good quality, and Buffum proudly identified them with the company name, city, and state. His distinctive trademark was a swastika with right facing arms, considered a good luck charm at that time. Buffum advertised frequently in trade publications and sold by direct mail.

By 1914, The Iron Age Directory listed Buffum Tool Co. in 29 categories. At a 1917 trade show, Buffum Tool Co. exhibited over 500 tools. Besides the above named tools, their products included tools for the machinist, mechanic, engineer, blacksmith, plumber, tinsmith, and gardener. They also made household items, a small printing press, animal traps, and wagon jacks. During World War I, Buffum made bayonets and airplane parts. Buffum’s main plant, partially rebuilt after a fire, still stands at 198 North 4th Street, Louisiana, MO. Google Maps
Buffum Tool Co. 1921 advertisement

Buffum Tool Co. logo

Buffum Tool Co. stamp


  1. Great stone mason tool information, Its really high grade and very useful tools.Thanks for sharing this.
    Posted by: Mary Davis | Stone Mason Tools

  2. I have a but fun door latch with the logo and swastika in tact.

  3. I have a but fun door latch with the logo and swastika in tact.

  4. I have a tool that looks like a nut cracker with the company name in tact. Can anyone tell me what tool it is? Any info would be helpful

  5. Email me a picture and I can tell you.

  6. I have an entire set of what I believe are masonary tools, my Grandfather was a mason. Was an odd find to be sure until we figured out what they were.

    1. found tools, whole set as seen in this old ad>

  7. I just cleaned this really old, dilapidated house that was filled from floor to ceiling with stuff... as I got to a section in the corner I found a metal ammo box and opened it up only to find a bunch of antique wrenches, drill bits, nail punches, and a couple cold chisels... so, I just got done soaking it all in WD-40 and took a wire wheel to the chisels and wrenches only to find a swastika on the head of the wrench, at first I thought someone had been just fucking around or was whatever... I have never heard of this tool company but I truly feel these pieces are a cool footnote in American history and being a Norseman by bloodlines and an Odin and Thor believer as I practice the Norse pagan religion, Asatru... to have these tools basically fall out of the sky and into my lap is a really weird but seriously cool stroke of the fates!!

  8. I found a really chill looking tool but can't figure out what it is can anyone help