MOORMAN London Cast.Steel

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by wiktor48, Sep 17, 2014.

  1. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    97
    This saw was sold on eBay two days ago. Unfortunately I did not win this bid - missed it by a notch. I am really angry at myself… I don’t know what I was thinking…

    Anyway, this post is after the BSSM release and we are all a bit more knowledgeable or at least have a book to learn from. From BSSM we can learn that there were three time frames that Moorman's firm operated within. The closest stamp example shown in the book would be one in the middle, dated ca. 1800, which suggests that the firm at that time is the Moorman & Sons.

    There is more information on this maker and company in the “Christopher Gabriel” by Jane and Mark Rees.

    Using this example, I would love to learn from Simon how he arrived with this estimated date. Explanation would be a great exercise for me and most likely to most of us.

    Moorman-01.jpg Moorman-02.jpg Moorman-03.jpg Moorman-04.jpg Moorman-05.jpg Moorman-06.jpg Moorman-07.jpg Moorman-08.jpg Moorman-09.jpg Moorman-10.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
  2. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

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    534
    Sorry not to have replied before, Wiktor. These Moorman saws are very rare in my experience, and I was fortunate to be able to take the pictures of two examples owned by a friend who has made a special hunt for the oldest London saws he can find. We looked at this saw and debated for a long time about the dating, and decided it on all the features together - handle, blade, back, lettering. And do you imagine we might not have been wrong?! The one you missed – and I can imagine your chagrin – I'd put at maybe c1800?
    My own one and only Moorman is a very poor thing, a broken handsaw of c1830.
     
  3. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    97
    Thanks Simon... I admit, I am very disappointed at missing my bid at the last moment. I really wanted this saw...
     
  4. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

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    1,032
    Hello all,

    As there are not a lot of these around I hope that no-one will mind if I piggy back this thread.

    I have just taken delivery of this one and apart from the absolutely insensitive cleaning (electrolytic/chemical?) I cannot fault it. The handle is tight and the blade is within a smidgin of being straight, and with a lot of blade left to boot.

    It was expensive but not ridiculously so for a saw of this age, scarcity and quality.

    The blade is 14 inches long but the mark is tiny, 16mm long. It is also canted slightly, forwards at the front and backwards at the rear. The back is 24.16mm broad at the rear and 22.24mm at the toe, so there is a slight cant on the back as well.

    Simon has had a preview of this and suggests that it may be the 1767 to 1795 Moorman and which, if it is, then I am chuffed.

    Fred.
     

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  5. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    592
    Congratulations Fred, on a rare and interesting find. And it's in a very impressive condition for 230 odd years. Just beautiful!

    Ray
     
  6. David

    David Most Valued Member

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    218
    Hello all,
    Taking a cue from Fred, I'll piggyback this Moorman here as well. (Even though this saw is marked German Steel.) Simpler, perhaps, if we keep them all together.

    The blade is 15 1/4" long which may indicate this saw was cut down. The front edge of the spine looks a bit suspect, and the stamp is not centered like Fred's example so I'm inclined to believe it probably has been trimmed. If the mark was originally centered the saw would have been 18" long.

    The spine is slightly tapered; 23.2 mm at heel and and 22 mm at toe. The spine is 7 mm thick, with almost a right angle to the blade, hardly any bevel. Although it's deeply pitted, it appears from some of the spine detail that it may be of wrought iron.

    The name stamp is 16mm long, like Fred's example, and 2 mm high. The London mark is only 9 mm long and 1 mm high. The faint German Steel mark is also 1 mm high and only fully readable in bright, early morning raking light. The photo is the best image I could get.

    The screws are 9/16" in diameter and the handle is 7/8" thick (and I'd be interested to know the size of the screws on your example, Fred). The top chamfer is longer than Fred's example and very beveled. The chamfer stop curves up right under the curved hook and appears almost in the same plane. The boss/cheek appears a bit wider than on Fred's saw, but just about the same height. The top horn was missing when received. The new restoration, however, is discernible when examined.

    I've shown these pictures and had some back and forth with Simon about this saw and the German Steel mark it bears and we've arrived at a tentative dating for it of sometime between 1790 to 1800, based on its appearance and features (mark, metal, handle). Tentative of course means that other ideas, thoughts, opinions and arguments are sought and welcomed. We're certainly not sure.

    In discussing this very early use of the German Steel mark we considered the fact that Christopher Gabriel, in his 1800 inventory, described his saws in stock by both maker and steel quality, using the terms common, cast and german steel. In his earlier 1791 inventory he only described saws by maker (although he did describe his chisels as common or cast steel). The saws certainly must have been marked as to steel type by 1800 since one can't identify the differing grades visually. That seems the only firm information as to when the use of the German Steel mark began, that I know about, although it certainly could have begun a bit earlier.
    In any case, I'm very happy to have this saw.
    David
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
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  7. Araldite

    Araldite Member

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    18
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  8. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

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    534
    I can add another one, bought from a charity, but only in a completion sense for the museum collection, as mine comes from the end of this firm's life, I suspect, and has not had a happy existence. It's 12 1/2 inches long, and as the photo of the toe indicates, the shortening (done with his teeth?) has left characteristic traces – no saw maker would leave the iron back closed over so crudely. I cleaned up the mark area only, in order to have a good quality picture; the mark is 18mm long, so I don't think it is the same punch as the one that was used to mark Fred's. Why the handle (enlivened with a bit of furniture polish, to take pity on it) was used for hole-drilling practice I can't say, unless someone thought to put another screw in and gave up when he met the steel. It's badly damaged across the boss, and the tongue is cracked through. I've not photographed the tooth line, which is all over the place in both planes. IMG_7896.JPG
    Dated at c1825. IMG_7897.JPG IMG_7899.jpg
     
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  9. David

    David Most Valued Member

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    218
    Hello all,
    Well, I went to an auction this weekend and was awash in luck. Having discovered this saw in an ugly box lot I bid for it and won another Moorman to add to this compendium we've built here. It's 19 " long and certainly hasn't been cut down. The toe of the spine has the curved bottom corner that sometimes appears on early saws. The spine tapers from 1" (25mm +) at the heel to 7/8" (22 mm) at the toe and tapers in thickness also, from almost 3/8" (9 mm) at the heel to 5/16" (8 mm) thick at the toe.

    The handle is a hair over 7/8" thick with 9/16" screws. It has a more rounded cheek/boss than the other examples shown here so far. And there's no chamfer and thus no chamfer stop.

    The "Moorman" stamp is 14 mm long, smaller than those we've seen thus far, and the "London" is 11mm.

    Among the attached images is one of both Moormans together for size comparison.
    David
     

    Attached Files:

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  10. Joe S

    Joe S Most Valued Member

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    306
    Well done David.
    I often find that some one else is always looking for something completely different in those "ugly box lots" and is willing to take it to extraordinary lengths to get it. Then it is further complicated when it is an absentee bidder and the lot can't be broken. Enjoy that gem.
    Joe S.
     
  11. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

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    534
    A of an understatement to say I "like" this – a great find, David. You are (carefully?!) avoiding suggesting a date – will you have first go?

    Simon
     
  12. David

    David Most Valued Member

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    218
    Hello, all followers of this thread,
    Since Simon has asked me to have a crack at dating this saw I'll rise to the challenge. Given our putative datings of the previous saws (possibly 1767 to 1795 for Fred's and possibly 1790 to 1800 for my previous example) I'll posit that this example is certainly pre-1790 and possibly as early as 1780. Two things incline me to this opinion. First is the very round boss/cheek of the handle which I think is such a strong indicator of an earlier date. And second is the curved bottom corner of the toe of the spine (what a mouthful that is!) which is so uncommonly seen. I attach two photos of an example of another, definitely early but unmarked, saw which came in the same box lot, which has that detail, to bolster my speculation. And an image of another, also unmarked, saw which, although damaged, seems to possibly show the same feature.

    But I'm really on slim ground here. We don't have much firm information to go on. I welcome other arguments and/or discussion of this dating.
    David
     

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    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
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  13. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    592
    I wonder if the degree of taper could give some indication of the date? The impression I have is that more heavily tapered blades tend to be earlier.

    General impression on the style is that it is at least before 1790, perhaps much earlier?

    Congratulations on an important find.
     
  14. David

    David Most Valued Member

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    218
    Here is a better example of the curved bottom corner of the toe of the spine. It's from a saw on page 61 in "TOOLS: Working Wood in Eighteenth Century America" I hope this post of a scan is all right with the copyright authorities since it's solely for educational purposes. If you have to pull it, Ray, then folks will just have to look it up for themselves. The book dates the saw as mid to late 18c. In that light I think my proposed dating of my 19" Moorman to 1780 is reasonable even though the curved toe is not as extreme. The Moorman also has the same pronounced lack of bevel on the boss/cheek as the mid to late 18c example, although the handle is of a slightly later form.

    An image of the 19" Moorman is also attached below.
    David
    Mid to late18c saw, Wmsburg book 2.jpg 19.jpg
     
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