F Constantine backsaw

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by geojoe, Mar 25, 2011.

  1. geojoe

    geojoe Active Member

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    34
    Hello everyone,

    This is my first post here. I've lurked about for some time and have greatly enjoyed this forum. This seems like a great group.

    I have acquired a few backsaws--but there is one I really know nothing about and so far have not seen another near enough like it for comparison. It was kind of a "throw-in" in a group of tools I purchased from someone last year and has been hanging in my shop since.

    It has the maker mark of F (I assume--part of the letter is gone) Constantine. It has dome nuts (hope that is correct terminology) rather than split ones. It has a brass back and has an 8-inch blade.

    For it to become usable, the blade will have to be straightened, jointed and sharpened. Is it worth paying someone for doing all this (I don't feel qualified to try it--something I hope for eventually) or am I better of simply keeping the saw on display?

    Does anyone have an idea regarding the date of this saw?

    I will appreciate any information about this saw.

    Now I will try to attach photos.

    Thanks much!
    Joe
     

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  2. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

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    1,084
    Hi Joe,

    I have not seen enough Contantine saws to really know what I am talking about, but I can tell you what is in "Handsaw Makers of Britain".

    They have the following:-
    Francis Constantine (68 Hollis Croft, Sheffield) 1845 to 1849.

    But before you get too excited, they also have
    Constantine Brothers (68 and 70 Hollis Croft, Sheffield) 1856 to 1900. One of their marks is "F Constantine".

    I do not know how F Constantine 1845 to 1849 marked his saws, but looking at the saw I am inclined to think it may be a saw by the the "Brothers". I have a handsaw by "F Constantine" somewhere, and I came to the conclusion (why I did so I have now forgotten) that it was a later saw.

    There are a couple of things that strike me about it. First the beak and the horns, they are very accentuated and look marvellous and secondly the nuts. If they are original (and I will stick my neck out here and say it looks to be a big if - but I am more often wrong than right), then they are fascinating. They are still fascinating even if they are not original but they look a lot later to me than the 1840 's/ 1850's (perhaps even modern-ish replacements). If they are original, then someone must have seen them before and they must therefore be a good aid to dating it.

    As for straightening, sharpening and setting, I think that the cost to have it done (including postage both ways) would make it prohibitive except for an exceptional saw. I have toyed with the idea, but have never actually found anyone who sharpens handsaws/backsaws as a commercial venture anymore. I read on one website that Flinn-Garlick do it, and do it well, but I have never contacted them to see if it is true.

    All in all a lovely looking saw and I am sure that others who use the site will have more to say than I can.

    Fred
     
  3. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    668
    Hi Joe,

    Welcome to the forum, very nice looking saw.. those saw nuts are intriguing to say the least!.

    I think Fred has identified it pretty well already, I think it's most likely by the Constantine Brothers Henry and Charles

    Francis Constantine was 57 at the time of the 1851 Census. The general appearance looks like late 1800's, so it's more likely to be made by his sons continuing to use their father's "F.CONSTANTINE" mark, (as Fred has already noted) but here is the interesting bit....

    The screws look like the might be similar to Glover's 1887 patent, but the decorative treatment of the heads is unusual.

    Glover's patent is here http://www.wkfinetools.com/hUS-saws/z_reading/hSaws-Screws/375,350-1887-1227/375,350-1887-1227.asp

    Perhaps it's a decorative version of the Glover's screw?

    Regards
    Ray

    PS..
    Here's a previous thread
    http://www.backsaw.net/index.php?option=com_jfusion&Itemid=58&jfile=showthread.php&t=41
     
  4. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    668
    Hi All,

    Sometimes you can get a glimpse into the progression of a saw making business, by looking at burial records, looking for Charles Constantine in the "Sheffield Records OnLine" http://www.sheffieldrecordsonline.org.uk/

    The following are buried in the Sheffield General Cemetery

    Kate CONSTANTINE
    Daughter of Charles Constantine, Saw Manufacturer
    age 3d, buried: 8 Apr 1862

    Joseph CONSTANTINE
    Son of Charles Constantine,Manufacturer, Montgomery Road,Sharrow
    age: 2y 10m, buried: 20 Jul 1868

    Charles Alfred CONSTANTINE
    Son of Charles Constantine, Montgomery Road,Sharrow
    age: 1y 8m, buried: 19 Aug 1868

    Caroline CONSTANTINE
    Wife of Charles Constantine, Ironmonger, 31 Montgomery Road
    age: 55, buried: 23 Jul 1883

    Charles CONSTANTINE
    Ironmonger, Harrogate
    age: 69, buried: 1 Jul 1899

    Life must have been tough, with so many deaths at young ages.

    The thing to note here is the description of Charles Constantine, progresses from Saw Manufacturer in 1862, by the time of his wife's death in 1883, he identifies himself as an Ironmonger.

    The implication is that of a saw making company that diversified into retailing, and quite likely outsourced the saw making to other sheffield firms in the later years. Whether this is in fact what happened, who knows, but the change in description over time, is probably significant.

    Regards
    Ray
     
  5. geojoe

    geojoe Active Member

    Messages:
    34
    Thank you Fred and Ray for your most helpful responses.

    I am intrigued by the history you shared. It adds to my appreciation of the saw to know more about the setting from which it originates.

    I also did some online searching to see if I can find similar examples of decorative saw nuts. I have not yet been successful in finding any such examples though.

    Thanks again for your help,
    Joe
     
  6. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    1,084
    Hello all,

    I knew that I had seen those nuts on a saw before and looking through ebay just now I have found them again. The images or available information are not that much help in dating unfortunately, but with that plate on the saw handle, someone must recognise the make and hopefully ascribe a more accurate date to the usage of those nuts.

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/VINTAGE-ANTIQ...865?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f08f03de9

    Fred
     

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  7. kiwi

    kiwi Most Valued Member

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    352
    More information, of no use whatsoever, on decorative dome nuts of a slightly different design, on one of my unidentified saws....
     

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  8. lui

    lui Most Valued Member

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    77
    Hi All,

    I know this question isn't relevent to the origninal saw, and for that I appologise to Joe, but can anyone explain any advantage gained from fitting a steel plate to the side of the handle. I've seen them in quite a few 20th C catalogues, but never with an explanation.

    regards

    lui
     
  9. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    1,084
    Hi Lui, Kiwi and everyone,

    If you look at the enlarged version of the second photo that I put on, it probably gives a good indicator as to why the plates were used - in this instance it looks to me like it was a repair to a split handle. (Just to the left of the bottom nut).

    Putting them on saws with intact handles may well have been a preventative measure.

    And Kiwi's photo and Lui's comment re 20th century saws has probably cleared up to a large extent the problem of the nuts on Joes saw. Kiwi's handle to me looks well into the first part of the 20th century and Lui was first to mention the time period complete with a source (catalogues) for the dating.

    So, Joe's saw may well have been very late Constantine Brothers (as per Ray and up to 1900 if original to the saw), or slightly/somewhat, later nuts which were replacements.

    Fred
     
  10. kiwi

    kiwi Most Valued Member

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    352
  11. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    668
    Hi Kiwi,

    Drifting slightly further off-topic...

    That un-identified saw, looks like a Wheeler Madden & Clemson No 52

    This is from an 1895 catalog, I couldn't see it in Wiktor's 1871 catalog.

    [​IMG]

    Kiwi's saw..
    [​IMG]

    Fred, I've see that one of yours before as well, but I can't find it at the minute..

    I think the advantage of the steel side plate is (obviously) to strengthen the handle to plate joint, this must have been something the market demanded because you also see saws with up to 5 screws fixing the handle as well..

    As to whether it actually makes it stronger, I'm not so sure, from a marketting viewpoint it certainly looks more robust?

    Regards
    Ray
     
  12. kiwi

    kiwi Most Valued Member

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    352
    Thanks Ray
    That looks like a match.
    [I'd had an almost match with a Shurly&Dietrich No25, which has the same shape but doesn't have that 4th (lower) screw]
     
  13. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

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    546
    This is a lovely saw, and differs from the others by this maker that I've seen in being high quality (the others are all 2nd qual at best).
    I have the family's dates as:

    "CONSTANTINE, Alfred & Co SHEFFIELD
    9 Smithfield 1841
    Saw, calico web, loom spring, and file manufacturers. Premises taken over by William Blackford. In the 19th century a street with several saw makers (in a small area with many more): see Joseph Fearnehough, C.&S.Peace, and Richard and William Southern amongst others.
    CONSTANTINE, Francis
    Constantine Yard, 10 Hollis Croft 1841
    68 Hollis Croft 1846
    Saw, spiral cutter and ledger blade maker.
    CONSTANTINE Brothers (Henry & Charles)
    68 & 70 Hollis Croft (1862 only. premises designated St George’s Works) 1849-1909
    The above three firms seem, from the rarity of their surname and the continuity of their premises, to have been related.
    In 1849 Francis is listed as a saw manufacturer at no.68, and Henry as a saw smith at no.70.
    1879: Charles, Francis Alfred and Henry W.Constantine, manufacturers of saws, files, steel, machine knives, ledger blades, spiral cutters etc.
    Their saws are quite commonly found, but none of the first quality has been recorded so far. The premises at no.10 were previously occupied by William Marsden, and in 1913 by William Wagstaff. Several other saw makers had addresses in this street, notably Jonathan Beardshaw, Thomas Harrison, and John Kenyon.
    One of their trade marks - Battison - may be explained by the existence of Joseph G.Battison, described in the 1887 directory (but no other) as a blade grinder; he may have worked for this firm."

    I must amend the entry to take account of this high quality item!
    The nuts are reminiscent of ones on a Jonathan Beardshaw ultra-special (hand saw entered for the 1851 Great Exhibition) - will send pics to Ray, who is kind enough to put them up for me (can't hack how to do it, alas).

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I can only think that the saw screw makers were capable of producing expensive ones for specials, but that for production runs (they had to make a living in an incredibly competitive world) they didn't bother. The other reason for thinking it's a special is that the handle seems to be rosewood?
    Sideplates: these were a Registered Design introduced by Joseph Peace (saw makers) in 1850
    (photo coming also, same route).
    [​IMG]

    Simon also emailed the following Peace Advertisments. -- ray
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Floridly ornate examples were used on specials.

    Your Constantine is a mouthwatering saw!
    Simon
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2011
  14. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    668
    Hi Simon,

    That Beardshaw is magnificent, perfect condition too, I love the elaborate train etching.

    Looks like it's hardly ever been used.

    Regards
    Ray
     
  15. geojoe

    geojoe Active Member

    Messages:
    34
    Hello everyone,

    I was away on a vacation and then after returning was too busy catching up with my work to check this forum. I am delighted to see the additions to the discussion regarding my backsaw and the decorative nuts. I have not found any additional information on my own so I am thankful for your contributions.
    I shall have to read and re-read the entries to better digest the information that was shared.

    Incidentally, I have a Wheeler, Madden and Clemson saw but without the steel side plate and domed nuts. I have a couple saws with plain rounded domed nuts but no decoration.

    I still am not sure what I will do with my saw. Fortunately I have other backsaws that are good users. I do not consider myself to be a saw collector yet, though that might be gradually changing. The more saws I see and learn about, the more interesting they become.

    So, thanks again for this discussion!

    Joe
     
  16. garlicandcoffee

    garlicandcoffee Member

    Messages:
    6
    Very interesting thread!

    Here is the handle off my E.M. Boynton. I think the screws are a pretty good match for yours Joe, and the handle seems similar to the mystery ebay saw. Kiwi, the decorated screws on your Clemson are marvelous!

    [​IMG]

    mut
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011
    pmcgee likes this.
  17. geojoe

    geojoe Active Member

    Messages:
    34
    This E.M. Boynton saw is gorgeous! Thanks for posting the photo.
    Joe
     
  18. TobyC

    TobyC Most Valued Member

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    216
  19. steveatkinson

    steveatkinson Most Valued Member

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    56
    I recently was lucky enough to come across an F Constantine backsaw, I am pretty sure I have another, with an open handle, not all of the stamp is present, sorry back to this saw.
    12" Iron back 2 split nuts holding the handle on, very slim chance it could be by the father or rather being honest just about no chance, seen as he was only in operation on his own for only a couple of years.
    Nor am I convinced that this is a top of the line saw, it is very nice, maybe not as robust as I think a top of the line saw should be, but hey thats only me, after all what do I know.
    Front View F Constantine 12 iron.jpg
     

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