mystery 18th century saw?

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by Scott M., Feb 25, 2021.

  1. Scott M.

    Scott M. Active Member

    Hello all,
    I just received this saw today. Thought I'd share it with folks here and maybe get some thoughts and opinions. I shared some pictures with my friend David who posts here frequently and he validated my suspicion that this was indeed an 18th century saw. Problem is we can not make out the stamp. Getting good pictures of them proved very difficult. What I can make out for sure is SMITH, a reclining ampersand, and only the last two letters in the last name. . . . ME. Referencing BSSM I could not match this mark with any of the Smiths or combinations there of. Curiosity on the back of the spine it is stamped BROWNE. The spine itself is three sided on the top and rounded on the end. The blade measures 14 inches. The 1791 date looks to have been carved along time ago but who knows if that is accurate or not.
    Thanks for looking and best regards,
    Scott 20210225_130009.jpg 20210225_125824.jpg 20210225_124734.jpg 20210225_124645.jpg 20210225_125549.jpg 20210225_130152.jpg 20210225_130009.jpg 20210225_125824.jpg
  2. shoarthing

    shoarthing Active Member

    Scott - Hi - what a handsome early saw . . . . to narrow an origin down, it might be worth getting a specialist opinion on the timber variety used for the handle: it does not seem certain to be: Fagus Sylvatica to my elderly eye.
  3. Scott M.

    Scott M. Active Member

    Hi Shoarthing,
    Thanks for your reply. I've worked alot of Beech, albeit American, however I would bet the farm that this handle is indeed Beech.
  4. tonyba

    tonyba Active Member

    Love this saw; the carved date is very nice!
  5. Dr.S

    Dr.S New Member

    I'm always sceptical about dates inscribed in furniture, given the tendency of unscrupulous dealers to add them later, though I'd have thought that would be less of an issue with tools (where the traditional "making things older" market was less profitable.)
    My worry with this inscription though is that the first two digits look beautifully carved, closely positioned, accurately aligned and with prominent serifs, while the last two digits look to have been scratched on by a very different method, are sans-serif and not lined up. Obviously that doesn't mean it isn't 18th century - but in my ignorance, I'd be genuinely interested to know what features lead people to think it's an 18th century saw? Is it primarily the rounded front of the handle or are there other clues one should look out for?
  6. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Dating by style is always problematic, The handle shape is a good clue, also note the location of the stamp close to the chamfer of the spine, that is often seen in earlier saws. A positive ID on the maker and a confirmation of the dates during which he was making saws is the more usual clue as to the date of manufacture.
    Dr.S likes this.
  7. David

    David Most Valued Member

    I think Scott was clear that he wasn't trusting the inscribed date as any indication of age. But the name is plausibly early. Simon Barley has mentioned a Smith who made saws in 18c Birmingham, that he is researching.
    As well as the handle shape that Ray mentions, another, uncommon, stylistic feature that seems early to me is the rounded bottom edge of the toe of the spine (ain't that a mouthful!). I've only seen that on a few saws; an 18c Dalaway dovetail saw on p 4 of Tools; Working wood in the 18c and an unmarked tenon saw deemed 18c on p.61, as well as on a large Boulsover tenon and another unmarked large 18c tenon in my collection.
    The very steep angle, close to 90 degrees, where the cheek meets the blade is another feature that, from my experience, doesn't speak of the 19c. But in the end, just as Ray states, dating a saw positively needs both a maker's name and documented confirmation of when that maker worked. But until we can confirm it one way or the other, the stylistic features on Scott's saw still seem to point towards the late 1700's, for me.
  8. Underthedirt

    Underthedirt Most Valued Member

    It's a lovely early saw! Out of interest, how is the rear of the spine cut? 90° or angled / raking ? You should be able to see inside the spine mortise. Also, raking / oblique lighting can help with photographing stamps, however it does look worn. It's a cracking saw.
    David and shoarthing like this.
  9. pedder

    pedder Active Member

    Looks like the saws Adam Cherubini and others replicated for the Wiliams Museum.
    If it is more than 200 years old that is a fantastic condition!
  10. Charlie Earnest

    Charlie Earnest Member

    Great saw Scott! I’m actually in the process of making one that will look very similar.