1. Dusty Shed Dweller

    Dusty Shed Dweller Most Valued Member

    A subject that has been avoided for a long time is a basic history of the E.C. Atkins Company, and dating of their product line. I was hoping that one of the very knowledgeable US-based collectors would have prepared something by now but I the meantime these notes are what I have been able to piece together from old catalogues and documents (thanks to Viktor).

    Apologies to Simon, this is my first attempt at documenting this kind of thing.

    E.C. Atkins & Co. was a major American saw and tool manufacturer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Prior to 1893 the company concentrated on lumber, mill and circular saws, of which they were a major player but hand saws started to appear in the 1890’s catalogues. Atkins was purchased by the Borg-Warner Corporation in 1952; the factory at Indianapolis was closed in 1960-61 and operations were relocated to Greenville, Mississippi. The Nicholson File Co. bought the Atkins Division of Borg- Warner in 1966. Nicholson consolidated or eliminated many “Atkins” products, although some saws were produced under the Nicholson name before production ceased.

    Identifying an Atkins saw;

    Three styles of medallion nuts adorn products E.C. Atkins’ products (see Summerfi’s medallion links), which colloquially are ascribed as the old style “inset AAA”, the middle period “AAA circular saw” logo and the late-era “block text” logo. It is unclear what timeframes these medallions represent but my estimates are ca. 1893-1952 for the AAA medallion, 1952-1960 for the circular-saw style medallion and 1960-1966 for the script logo (If you have any definitive advice re dating of these I would greatly appreciate hearing from you).

    Aside from the medallion nut fitted to genuine products, Atkins' etches are distinctive but invariably they are light and often difficult to read. The “Perfection” style handle is characteristic of the brand but is only fitted to certain models. On a relative basis Atkins saws are typically harder and more evenly tempered than products by Disston. The taper grinding is also of very high quality- typically at least 3 gauges. Atkins also tend to attach the handles using an angled heel (see figure from 1930's catalogue below)- they weren’t as taken by Disston's “cover top” handle. .


    Suggested dating timeline;

    1. Medallions

    Old style AAA medallion (brass or plated); 1893-1952.
    Circular-saw style medallion (typically nickel-plated) 1952-1960.
    Block text logo (nickeled); 1960-1966.

    2. Other design features
    Fine chip carving; ca. 1899-1913
    Embossed AAA on wood handles and/or “tropical vine” pattern 1913 to mid 1930’s. Replaced by coarse (rotary-tool cut) “chip carving" from mid 1930’s.
    Grossly simplified perfection handles (beech, mahogany or meranti)…late ??? 1950's-1966?
    Underthedirt likes this.
  2. kiwi

    kiwi Most Valued Member

    Other Atkins medallions, also shown on Bob Summerfield's medallion link, include Indianapolis brands "Sheffield", "Phoenix", and "Columbian", and the Canadian medallions for "AAA Hamilton Ont." and "Shurly-Dietrich-Atkins" and "SDA" saws from Galt Ontario.
    The Sheffield saws and Phoenix medallion are noted in the 1919 Atkins catalog No.18 which is reprinted in "The Handsaw Catalog Collection", Astragal Press.
    Columbian saws and saws etched with "Columbia Saw Works, Indianapolis" seem to have emerged later.
    Atkins' "Saw Sense" shows saw types and is available at http://www.mvr1.com/atkinssaws2.html (undated 1930s??)
    Comparison of different catalogs may give you some timelines for when different saw models were sold.
    For Canada, Atkins' Hamilton Ontario plant existed 1910-1930 (my impression is that handsaws with the uncommon AAA Hamilton medallion were only made during the later years of this period), Atkins moved to Galt as "Shurly-Dietrich-Atkins" 1930-1973 (SDA medallions for the later part of this period)
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
    Underthedirt likes this.
  3. Dusty Shed Dweller

    Dusty Shed Dweller Most Valued Member

    Thanks kiwi, i have catalogues from 1891, 93, 99, 07, 18, 31, 37 and partials from elsewhere but full line Atkins catalogues are unbelievably rare. i have enough information to construct a basic table outlining the features of each saw model (Disstonian Institute style) but there is a block of missing data for the 1940s onwards. At this stage I am concentrating on the main line stuff, the second labels are a nightmare with the fragmentary data.