Groves & Sons / London

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by David, Mar 25, 2017.

  1. David

    David Most Valued Member

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    260
    Hello All,
    I just received this fine little saw. It's a 9 3/8" dovetail which has 20 very worn down tpi. The blade is .017 thick. The 7/16" diameter screw heads seem to faintly show that their original filing marks are still in their original orientation, although the rear of the screws shows some evidence of having been tightened.

    The brass back is just under 5/8" wide, which seems to be on the narrow side from what I usually see on saws of this period. The ampersand is so angled that it's almost flat on its back, which I think might possibly imply that it's from fairly early in Groves' production. The London stamp, which I assume is a quality reference, might also imply an early date. But since these dating speculations are just that, I'd welcome hearing your opinions as to when you think this may have been made.
    David
     

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  2. Joe S

    Joe S Most Valued Member

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    328
    Hi David
    This can only be an early Groves and Sons saw and it is again so nice to see a handle of that age last in such wonderful order. Long time ago I presented this saw to the group and again there is such a similarity in stamps and ampersand.
    http://www.backsaw.net/forum/index.php?threads/groves-and-sons-london.36/

    At the end of the discussion Simon chimed in with this observation and I quote "The original Groves/London saw looks pretty early to me - handle, screws and style of ampersand suggest (not long) pre-1830, I think. The puzzle is the word London; its use was indeed at first (and much later also) an attempt to suggest quality, and is sometimes short for Warranted London Spring, which was the top quality, better than simple Cast Steel. The (not many) Sheffield-made saws of this and earlier dates with London (and not Sheffield) on them have London and the maker's name widely separated, confirming it as quality mark. The style here, of maker/London bang together is new to me. What is absolutely clear is that Groves never ever made saws in London, even though later they had a London office address, and an agency address in Glasgow in the 1850s."
    Enjoy that one David, it is a keeper
    Joe S.
     
  3. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

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    Hi David,

    I am going back to HSMOB on this one, and as I know not that of which I speak, I will just repeat, without much comment that he lists Richard Groves from 1787 to circa 1815 and cites Gale and Martin (1787) and a publication by the Ruskin Gallery as sources.

    He puts R Groves and Son 1817 to 1821 and cites Kenneth Roberts as a source.

    He then has R Groves and Sons from 1822 onwards.

    So, assuming that reclining ampersands were phased out by about 1825, this would give your saw a narrow manufacturing window of 3-odd years.

    The reason that I am being a little mealy mouthed on this is that BSSM has nothing to say on "Groves only/Son/ Sons" marks during this early time period and the listing is entitled "Groves - Richard and Sons. I do not have access to a Gales and Martin to look up what the Groves listing says. Neither do I have access to Kenneth Roberts book to check that either, or his sources.

    But, of course none of this detracts from the fact that you have a very desirable little saw there, and about as early as they come. As you are undoubtedly aware, BSSM has a mark similar to yours but with Cast.Steel and this is dated about 1820.

    Fred

    Apologies David, There is a Gales and Martin on Historical directories and on page 26 under Saws, Richard Groves is listed in Trinity Street without sons. So there was a time when he was listed as a saw maker on his own. The question is when were Son/Sons added in order to give your saw its earliest possible date? Is HSMOB correct on this?

    Also apologies because it took me so long to research and write this that Joe got in a post before me and so this may seem a little disjointed.

    As an aside, here is a saw a little later than yours but which is London Spring. (For Joe).
     

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    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  4. David

    David Most Valued Member

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    260
    Hi Joe & Fred,
    Thanks for your responses and examples which help to clarify some ideas about the age of this saw, insofar as we can from what little info exists. Happily, your thoughts have brought up some other points for me to ponder.

    The first is when I dive back into the mugs game; handle styles. Joe, your saw and mine, both marked London, seem to have the same curved top chamfer. When I scour Google images for Groves & Sons backsaws I don't find any other saws with that same chamfer. Admittedly my brass saw differs a bit from yours by having a little "birds mouth" at the end of the chamfer. Which reminds me of my recent discussion with Mari about the same "birds mouth" on brass backed Kenyons ( http://www.backsaw.net/forum/index.php?threads/kenyon-14-brass-back-saw.961/ ). I wonder if that "birds mouth" detail was used by several Sheffield makers only on brassback saws of that time period? In any case the only two Groves & Sons / London saws I've seen do have a similar, seemingly unique, top chamfer.

    Another question that arises from your research, Fred, is where are the saws marked simply Groves or Groves & Son? I think I do have a vague memory of seeing a saw marked Groves & Son sometime in the last five or so years on ebay, but I've never seen a saw marked only Groves.

    But what I have seen, three times in the last two years on ebay, are saws marked Groves & Co. which I wonder might be the first Groves mark. Unfortunately, I didn't bid quite enthusiastically enough to acquire any of them. A failure of determination for sure. All were brass backs. Two had quite early-looking closed handles secured with rivets. If the rivets were original then they were quite early saws. The third was an open handle dovetail with split nuts. And, importantly, it had the same curved chamfer and "birds mouth" as my example above, which may reinforce my speculation about that detail.

    Saw #1 appeared in June 2015, Saw #2 in July 2016 and Saw # 3 in Jan 2017. Saw #2 sold for 179 pounds; the seller was Melox.
    David
     

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  5. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

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    544
    The entry I wrote for Groves in BSSM was a long and difficult one, not made any easier by my consulting on drafts of it with a man who is writing (still writing!) the definitive history of the firm, his wife being a descendant of that name; he offered countless changes and I ended up feeling more confused than helped. I would revise the writing in at least the respect that in the 1787 directory he appears as simply Richard Groves (he's not in the 1774 directory at all). Many more examples of their work have come to light since then, and it is certainly no longer true to say, as I did a few years ago, that the name Groves & Sons changed very little throughout their history.

    I do have one example of what I think of as the earliest (in my own collection, that is) of theirs so far, dated, as tentatively as always for an open handled dovetail saw, at around 1800. It's marked Groves only, and the other words Spring and London are disposed on the brass back in the same manner as the words Kenyon/Spring/London on the 1797 saw in the Seaton chest [needs a better photo, so will upload tomorrow].

    I have a handsaw that I've dated at about 1820 that is Groves & Co, with the same weary lying-down-for-a-rest ampersand as David's. It's 17mm long, and I assume reads Cast Steel below.
    IMG_5937.JPG
     
  6. David

    David Most Valued Member

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    260
    Thanks, Simon. I certainly look forward to your posting the Groves / Spring / London saw and finally getting to see a (solely) Groves saw, in the photographic flesh as it were. Also, can you tell us if you've seen Groves & Son saws and help clear up that mystery as well?

    And perhaps this is the place for me to post an image of the joint Worrall & Co / Groves' Son saw and die stamp from NYC. I assume Worrall was factoring his saws from someone in the Groves family at that time, which I would guess to be about the third decade of the 19c, just before he began producing his own handsaws.
    David
     

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  7. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

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    544
    Half way there, as it were, David: Groves alone yes, Groves and a single son, not yet… I will get back to the family history man and see if he might have any ideas on dates. The poor old thing has seen better days – broken off heel, toe cracked, half a horn gone, which is probably why I could buy it without taking out a mortgage.
    The Seaton chest images for comparison; they show what the Groves might look like if it had sat unused for 200 years. It's interesting that the marks are so similarly made –the capital R seems identical – the same mark maker??
    IMG_7759.jpg


    IMG_7759.jpg IMG_7762.JPG

    I think it is not impossible that Groves (other firms did it) used different combinations of their partners' names for different markets – so maybe the Worrall (thanks for that) may represent the firm choosing to put one son only into the NYC outlet.
     

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  8. David

    David Most Valued Member

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    260
    Simon, your Groves has just the same top chamfer and chamfer stop as the Kenyon, although the hook is not quite as pronounced. Still, same handle maker perhaps? I imagine Sheffield was a considerably smaller town in 1800 than it was by the 1820's, wasn't it? If you wanted the best handle there was likely one person you went to for it.
     
  9. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    1,077
    Hello all,

    I thought that I would put this one here in order to keep all the "early" similar stamps together.

    My saw, unfortunately is not a patch on Davids as far as quality goes, but the wording is identical and it does have the reclining ampersand.

    I am still trying to get an accurate time frame for this mark, and I am still not getting very far with it.

    In Baines 1822 (the year that HSMOB claims Groves became "Sons"), the listing is indeed for Groves and Sons, but there are no directories prior to this to see when Groves and Co ended. But I assume that the latest date when reclining ampersands went out of fashion is still around 1825.

    When I bought this saw, the seller commented on the very thin blade and I measure it at 0.0145 ins thick (at the top, below the handle). And because this area will get virtually no wear it was almost certainly made at this thickness.

    Perhaps this helps to account for the "dog leg" in it.

    The stamp is 17mm long as compared to a similar stamp in BSSM of 18mm. The back itself tapers from 17mm at the handle to 13mm at the toe.

    Fred
     

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  10. summerfi

    summerfi Most Valued Member

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    167
    Hi all,
    My little Groves saw isn't as old as those above, but it has one item that confuses me a bit as to it's age. The stamp is nearly identical to one in BSSM dated 1840., with one exception. The name on my saw is simply Groves & Sons rather than R. Groves & Sons. Does anyone know where the missing R may put this saw in the Groves timeline? I suspect the nicely chamfered spine and the very rounded end of the spine are also clues to its age.

    Bob

    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg
     
  11. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    1,077
    Hi Bob,

    If I had to guess, I would have to put this at just before 1840 -ish (as per BSSM's mark) and in a transition period (however long or short that may have been) from Groves to R Groves. (Either that or it is a stamp that someone forgot to put the "R" on.):)

    I am not so sure that the chamfer and the rounded nose are a lot of help in dating. I seem to remember that Groves used chamfered backs until quite late into his career and I also have my doubts that the rounded nose was done at manufacture.

    I have never seen a saw with the blade going into the nose like that before, or a nose that pronounced before. If you look at the stamp, it is offset a little towards the front of the back which may mean that the saw has been shortened from the front at some time, or at least the back has been adapted.

    I look forward to reading other, perhaps more considered and knowledgeable views on this.

    Fred
     
  12. summerfi

    summerfi Most Valued Member

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    167
    Hi Fred,
    I hadn't considered that the end of the spine may have been altered, but you could be right. The plate, however, measures exactly 10 inches, and if someone did alter the nose they did a good job of it. The screw heads look like they have never been removed from the saw, though the nuts appear to have been tightened at some point. I too look forward to other views.

    Bob
     
  13. Underthedirt

    Underthedirt Most Valued Member

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    203
    Hi Bob,

    I have an R.Groves & Sons that has a very rounded end of the spine like yours- I've not seen anything similar except for your Groves, so that's cool.
    I think that mine is around 1850-60s, yours may well be earlier?

    Regards

    Mari
     

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  14. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    1,077
    Thank-you both,

    Well, in this case you (or I as it happens) live and learn. Mari's stamp is slightly offset to the front as well.

    This may well be a turn-up for the book. Well somebody's book in any case.:) (Apologies for repeating this very weak humorous quip).

    Fred
     
  15. summerfi

    summerfi Most Valued Member

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    167
    Thank you Mari and Fred. I guess that puts a wrap on the round nose question. What are the odds that the only two known examples of a round-nosed Groves, each made in Sheffield, would end up on opposite sides of the earth and then meet on the Internet more than 150 years later. It's rather astounding when you think about it. That's a beautiful saw Mari. These two saws seem to belong together.

    Bob
     
  16. Underthedirt

    Underthedirt Most Valued Member

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    203
    Glad to help gentlemen...:) there are some beautiful saws on this thread. I think R.Groves made arguably some of the most beautiful saws, especially in the first 1/2 of the 19th century. I keep hoping that one day I'll find a nice early one like David & Freds & Simons ones, but they are quite scarce.

    Regards

    Mari
     
  17. greyhound

    greyhound Most Valued Member

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    47
    Thought I would add photos of this R. Groves with rounded back at the toe. This is 10" dovetail with open handle, WARRANTED GOOD and SHEFFIELD (italic) stamped. The plate is very thin re-sharpened to the original 18tpi rip (few teeth book off when setting still cuts beautifully though). The brass back is also distinctly flat on the top. Due to the shape of the brass back I though this saw was made closer to 1900 but seems I was wrong...
     

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    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
  18. TraditionalToolworks

    TraditionalToolworks Most Valued Member

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    There are a lot of different R.Groves saws, but the one pictured in the first post by the OP of this thread is very similar if not the same saw that Pete Taran patterned the original Independence Saw from. He once shared pics of the saw with me several years ago.

    I haven't bought any saws in quite some time, but I always found it difficult to find genuine dovetail saws from the 1800s, and in fact only have one in my collection which I bought from a gent that had Tom Law sharpen and blue. Tom Law used to cold blue saws. Somehow I doubt Tom Law is still with us, but he taught many people how to sharpen with his videos, me included. Many of what appear to be dovetail saws are actually carcass or sash saws that were filed or cut down.