John Spear Spring Steel

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by houblon, Sep 23, 2018.

  1. houblon

    houblon Member

    Messages:
    11
    I was afraid that after my recent purchase of BSSM I would no longer find any British saws...
    Here's today's flea market find:

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    After cleanup:

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    It looks like the handle has been attached at an angle. The screws have been tampered with, and an iron screw added. I believe the back should be aligned with the top of the handle. Would you agree? As for the age, I am not sure. BSSM shows no spring steel, and the use of John seems to continue after the addition of Jackson.
    Would 1850 be reasonable?
     
  2. David

    David Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    263
    Hi,
    I'd agree with you that the handle has been changed from the original hang angle, which suggests some doubt as to whether either the blade or handle is original. If that is the original handle and blade I wonder if there shouldn't be a visible hole in the blade for the rear fastener? It's hard to tell, but if you made a paper template of the handle with the holes and placed it where you think it ought to have been perhaps it could indicate where the hole for the rear fastener should be in the blade. (The previous sentence was difficult to construct and I may not be clearly expressing my meaning, but I hope I have.)
    As to dating, I can be no help other than to say that my guess is that this John Spear mark is the one used after the Spear & Jackson partnership.
    I'm not sure I've harmed more than helped your question.
    David
     
  3. houblon

    houblon Member

    Messages:
    11
    Yes I understand perfectly what you are hinting at. Measuring the depth of the back below the surface and then transferring that to the screw center gives me a location that would be just covered by the handle. But you are right that this is most likely not the original blade, since it is 12.5 in at the teeth and 12.25 at the back. Which begs the question: what IS original? The back? The handle? In any case it is a solid saw and fits my hand perfectly. It might just become my favorite dovetail saw. After a first jointing and sharpening it cuts nicely but pulls a bit to the right.
     
  4. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    1,082
    Hi,

    A bit of a WAG re dating and handle.

    According to the entry on p.73 of BSSM, the mixture of capitals and lower case in "Sheffield" should put the saw between 1840 and 1870.

    I still look at between 500 and 700 saws an evening in my ever vain search for something to buy. It takes me about 1/2 an hour and I do it mainly by looking very quickly at the handles. The handle on this , I would discard as being a saw of interest at the first glance - as being too late for my increasingly picky tastes.

    This handle, to me, screams late 19th/early 20th century. This is because of the acute angle on the bottom point of the boss. The bottom curves to the bosses of earlier saws tend to be slightly more, to much more oblique. The blade and the back look about right for a saw of the 1850's - ish though.

    One thing that I do like about this saw is the letter style used in the stamping of "Spring Steel". The "SPRING" is so crudely done that one could hazard a guess that it was an inexperienced stamp cutter who made it. I think that the American term "primitive" may well be applied to this section of the overall stamp.

    Fred
     
  5. houblon

    houblon Member

    Messages:
    11
    Could you explain to an untrained eye what classifies the stamp as crudely done? The S of spring seems a bit smaller than could be expected. I thought the SPRING was rather better done than the rest. Maybe an uneven blow? Or two separate stamps for Spring and Steel?

    Still according to BSSM the blade should not be original or at least was cut down, since sizes should be in increments of 2in if I understand correctly. The handle is in a much better shape than I would expect from 150 years of use.
     
  6. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    1,082
    Hi,

    upload_2018-10-11_20-21-30.jpeg

    If you look at "Warranted", that is somewhere near as regular as a stamp should be. Most of the letter placings are just about equidistant and most of them more or less the same size.

    You mentioned the major point about the small "S" in your post above. But add to that the relatively large gap between the "S" of Spring and the "P, compared to the rest of the gaps between the lettering, and the even larger gap between the "P" and the "R".

    The "T" of Steel looks to me to be slightly inclined from the "S" towards the first "E" and the last "E" and "L" are slightly smaller than the "T" and the "E" of Steel.

    It could well be that "Spring" and "Steel" are separate stamps although I would guess by the plane in which the bottom letters are placed, that they are the same stamp. If it is only one stamp then the words are too close together for convention.

    As hand cutting name stamps from a single block of steel is much more of an art than a science, small deviations must be expected, but what has happened on this stamp (I think) goes way beyond the deviations of a competent stamp cutter. Hence my WAG about an inexperienced stamp cutter (or one in a hurry). But it is quirky little things like this that makes a saw so attractive to me.

    Now, a thought has just occurred to me. Look at all the dirt and crud in the lettering of the stamp except "Spring Steel" and now compare it with the relatively clean and very much stylistically different Spring Steel stamp.

    I have absolutely no proof of this whatsoever, but I would bet a sizable chunk of someone-else's money that "Spring Steel" was added later, probably, from the letter styles, in America. Possibly at the time of re-handling??

    Are there any thoughts on this?

    Fred