Early Barber & Genn with Early Medallion

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by Kerry, Jun 5, 2020.

  1. Kerry

    Kerry Member

    Looking for some help on this saw, not mine, but the owner was thinking of installing a new plate and restoring the handle. I thought I'd get more information for him before he takes it apart and makes it a user.

    Have a look at the photos. The Barber & Genn stamp on the back is the earliest listed in Barley's book at 1790.
    But according to the book, medallions weren't used until around 1820's. In fact, the oldest medallion in the book looks VERY similar to that on this saw. St. George slaying the dragon with the exception that this one reads "Royal Improved".

    I'm wondering if the knowledgeable folks here have any opinions on age and modifications made to this saw.
    Could the medallion be original, or it could have been a very old replacement for a broken screw?
    Or maybe the mark on the plate was used later than we think?
    Would the saw be worth saving as is, or is this common enough that he shouldn't feel too terrible making a user out of it?
  2. Joe S

    Joe S Most Valued Member

    Hey Kerry
    This is my opinion so you can take it for the little, opinions are worth. As I have said before, he owns the saw and he can do as he wishes with it.
    As Rob Paul said when it was represented on another forum, the medallion is very old and may have been added later. This is a 200 year old saw and there just aren't that many around.When you ask "is this common enough" the answer is NO. If the medallion was added 20 years later it is still part of the story. It has been well loved over the years and it needs to be retired. To add a new plate and restore the handle seems like a lot of time and effort on an artifact that will always look restored when a very functional and not so early a saw can be found easily. There are so few people out there that have the skills to restore this to what is appropriate it would never look right. For the few times anyone uses a saw now, to get that "traditional feeling" of sawing with a vintage saw there are a lot out there. In the grand scheme of things, I always consider myself just the custodian of some early saws and later it may be of interest to someone else to carry on the tradition. Offer a user if needed to help save the "old girl"
    I have a feeling most members on this forum would agree with some of the opinions opined here.
    Joe S.
  3. Kerry

    Kerry Member

    Thanks for your opinion Joe. I appreciate it.
  4. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks for posting a very interesting saw, as previously noted it looks to be around 1790 ish, going by the mark on the spine.

    I'm curious about the medallion, it probably doesn't belong to the saw, since it features St George killing the Dragon, which was a popular design for coins, it's possible a coin collector might recognize it, if not a coin perhaps something like a pendant?

    I did a quick search for coins featuring George and the Dragon, but couldn't find any with the words "ROYAL" at the top. Anybody else got any ideas?

    I did note that some late 1800's Warranted Superior Medallions with St George and the Dragon were very similar, so maybe "ROYAL IMPROVED" is just a variant of that.

    The closest I found was an Ibbotson Bros, which had a medallion with "ROYAL IMPROVED" but the pictures don't show the medallion in sufficient detail. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/early-ibbotson-bros-brass-saw-127305177

    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  5. kiwi

    kiwi Most Valued Member

    That particular George and Dragon design was initially created for an English gold sovereign coin first issued in 1817 under George III, so the saw medallion presumably post dates 1817. Saw medallions with this design include Samuel Hill (Simon dates as 1820), Ibbottson Bros (with "Royal Improved"), and Warranted Superior (my one dates to c1850). Since Ibbottson Bros took over Barber & Genn, it has been suggested that perhaps the medallion on this saw is original, post 1817, possibly made by Ibbottson after the takeover. If the medallion was a later addition to the saw, it might be possible to detect alterations to the handle if the saw was dis-assembled (not that I would recommend dis-assembly).
    There seem to be quite a few Barber & Genn saws around (I've even found a couple locally in Ontario), but one with an original medallion would be special.
    David likes this.
  6. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks Kiwi, great information, that Ibbotson "Royal Inproved" medallion is a great find. It makes it clear that the mystery medallion in question is in fact a saw medallion.

    I haven't found a date for the Ibbotson take over, but Thomas Barber left the partnership in 1810, leaving just Frank Barber and John Genn.

    So Ibbotson take over must post date that at least. Which still leaves us with the mystery medallion. The generic nature of the ROYAL IMPROVED with George and the Dragon, and the lack of any
    manufacturers identification seems odd, why not put "Barber & Genn" on the medallion? Is this an early version of the generic Warranted Superior?

    One wild guess is that maybe Ibbotson reworked old Barber and Genn stock inherited after the takeover, making up handles as required and selling them under the Barber & Genn mark with a generic medallion?

    So, the question remains, is the medallion original to the saw? if so, it probably dates the saw to after 1817, but probably not much later.