Early Robt Sorby... Blind Medallion - Sapele handle?

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by Kerry, Nov 2, 2021.

  1. Kerry

    Kerry Member

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    20
    I recently received an intriguing saw made by Robt Sorby, which appears to be somewhat older and differs from what I've typically seen and held. I haven't seen too many earlier Robt Sorby saws on this site, so thought photos and a description might be of some interest here.

    It has the following characteristics:
    - 4 split nuts with a larger blind medallion (suggesting 1840-1850s perhaps?)
    - wonderfully arissed handle that appears to be Sapele (or Mahogany...but I'm willing to be both scorned and corrected by someone who may know better here)
    -Stamped plate with Robt Sorby, Maltese cross, CAST STEEL, SHEFFIELD and three crowns (no kangaroo)

    I'm a little baffled as this seems to be a higher quality saw, arissed handle with specially ordered sapele(?), yet its 30" plate with very large 3ppt teeth suggest a saw made for very rough dimensioning. A beautiful saw nonetheless.
     

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  2. Dusty Shed Dweller

    Dusty Shed Dweller Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    128
    Yes, a beautiful and very, very unusual saw...for starters, a 30" plate is extremely rare. Agreed, it is a tropical hardwood, though the exact species is very difficult to identify from photos (the prominently reversing grain could be from many species eg bubinga, sapele, one of the rosewoods). The arised handle also screams high end. Such handles often went on presentation saws, but this is a saw for serious use, and they were typically beech. I'm wondering if this was a user made handle fitted to what is clearly a saw intended for heavy use... Maybe a ship carpenter's saw (they often worked big stuff, and had access to unusual woods from exotic places).
     
  3. Kerry

    Kerry Member

    Messages:
    20
    Thanks for the reply. Interesting thought about the handle being a user made. I hadn't even considered this as most user made handles I've seen are rough at best. Here the split nuts are untouched and the handle is, well, an incredible bit of work. However, given its age the handle could possibly have been replaced well over 100 years ago and would probably look original. If so, whoever made it was an excellent craftsman! It was certainly used as well, there are wear marks on the lower cheek where the saw was run into the wood repeatedly.

    I was also thinking rosewood, but it's less dense and hard than the rosewood I've worked with previously. That said, I've mistaken a mahogany handle for rosewood, so my confidence isn't terribly high.

    Attaching a view of the arissed top.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 5, 2021
  4. Dusty Shed Dweller

    Dusty Shed Dweller Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    128
    I reckon it's one of the mahoganies, or at least a Caribbean/S American hardwood, and if so, that screams ship's carpenter, boat builder etc.
     
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