Timeline Discussion Additions and Corrections

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by ray, Feb 6, 2011.

  1. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    668
    Hi All,

    As raised by Graham in an earlier thread..

    Here is an experimental timeline, I know there isn't much data of value there just yet, but I'm interested in what people think of the format.

    http://www.backsaw.net/timeline

    Is it something I should persevere with?

    If you have features that you would like added to the timeline, reply in this thread. I'll make this thread sticky, so it stays at the top of the list.

    Regards
    Ray
     
    shoarthing likes this.
  2. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    1,084
    Hi Ray,

    The Limited Liabilities Act appeared in 1855 (I think, going from memory). Now I know that many companies did not go "limited" until the late 1800's/early 1900's but it is a cut off point.

    Would it also be possible to do "advisory" timelines which are useful but have to be taken cautiously, such as the introduction of larger diameter saw screws, (poss. even larger diameter medallions if that is a valid notion)) the introduction of 3 fixings on quality products ( secondary ones are a problem here), the phasing out of London Pattern cheeks as opposed to flat handles, the usage of the term London/London Spring as a quality mark as opposed to a location and a timeline for the usage of German Steel and its quality implications.

    I know that some of these are not easy to sort out, but if they are included with sufficient caveats, then they may be useful pointers as opposed to the relative "absolutes" already provided. A contradiction in terms I know.

    Hope this helps and does not provide too much work or grief.

    Fred.
     
  3. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    668
    Hi Fred,

    The idea's haven't quite gelled yet, but I'm thinking that a seperate timeline for each region might be appropriate, there is a clear enough timeline for Disston that could at least provide a model for extending to other makers in other regions.

    For example there is a style emerging which I will call 18th Century "Birmingham" as illustrated by the Barnard and Dallaway saws Joe has posted.

    It's a work in progress... I'm playing around with colours and grouping events to try and put related events and features together.

    No sure how to display the number and size of screws. Still working on it..

    Regarding the usage of the "CAST.STEEL" mark, (note the dot) I'm using an earlier comment by Simon that this feature appeared before 1830, and not after. But when was the first "CAST STEEL" mark used?

    Also, the timeline link now appears on the menu bar at the top of the page. Might make it easier to navigate.

    Regards
    Ray
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011
  4. ilges71

    ilges71 Member

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    22
    Well done Ray. I think this is a superb start. I thought I knew quite a lot, but there are terms here I was not aware of, names of patents etc,

    Would it possible to produce a list of terminology with a photo to explain the feature? Paricularly or new members and visitors.
    As an additonal thought, for example medallions, I have not yet got very far into these, but from the styles there is obviously a progression over time, so initially if there was a photo of an early medallion then a bit later one then a late one. Anyone could then look at their saw and say it has an early medallion so they can judge the approximate date.

    I know from the discussions that handle shape evolved, but I am not clear what the progress was and over what time scale.

    Just rambling as thoughts come to me, so use any thing which makes sense and ignore most of it!!!!

    The book (HMSOB is it?) distinguishes 2 screws as earlier than 3 and later 4 and 5. Of course quality come into play too. Is there a first date known for 3 and 4 and 5 screws?

    Again well done and I hope this progresses a long way, it ought to.

    Graham
     
  5. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    668
    Hi Graham,

    Thanks for the comments, much appreciated.

    I already have some information embedded into the timeline, if you click on, for example, the blue dot next to Glover's patent the little pop-up balloon has a brief description, but if you look at the double underlined title in the balloon, and click on that, it will take you to Wiktor's web site with full details of the patent.

    Some of the other dot and bars have images embedded in the "balloons"

    As time goes by, I will get the hang of how to program the timeline features.

    One thing I'm stumped on is how to show things like number of screws.

    Regards
    Ray
     
  6. ilges71

    ilges71 Member

    Messages:
    22
    Is there an earliest date known for 3,4 and 5 screws?
    I do not think a latest date can be applied as lower grade saws have often had two screws.

    I did not think to click to find links, sorry

    Graham
     
  7. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    668
    Hi Graham,

    I've been looking at your gallery, you have some excellent information. Early books and catalogues are in lots of ways more reliable sources than saws themselves.

    I'll scan the Smith's Key saw page and post it. for comparison.

    Regarding number of screws, the actual number used varied depending on the quality and length of the saw, longer saws often had more screws.
    Lower quality saws often had less.

    4 screws probably later than 1820, 5 screws on handsaws tends to be late 19th early 20th century.

    There is also, a general trend to larger diameter screws. That would work in conjunction with the number and type of screws.

    Regards
    Ray
     
  8. Joe S

    Joe S Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    371
    Hey Ray et al
    I can only add a well done to you on this time line graph.
    My 2 cents might be the difficulty in doing a regional time line as you pointed out Ray. I would think saws were being made in many locations and as Simon points out not many in places we thought a lot were made like Scotland. It was an assembly area except for two true saw makers. Are the criteria for this line based on significant changes in style or one particular companies significance in the numbers of saws they made and how it impacted a region. Would the time line then open up to London, Norwich, Leeds and North American manufactures? I think the line might be unwieldy in this area.
    Great stuff though.
    Joe S
     
  9. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    546
    Timeline

    I salute the efforts of Ray and the others to contribute to this thread - THE difficult one!
    My own research is so Sheffield based that I sometimes fear I am overly biased.
    The big problems are:
    1. No saw makers' business documents are known from any place other than Sheffield (and there are precious few there), although the online Tyzack family history (good, but many inaccuracies) shows that the Tyzacks of London did make their own saws, as did a few other London makers like JVHill, Fitchew, Copley and Fletcher.
    2. Catalogues are a big help, but as we know, dealers used engravings from others' catalogues, overprinting them with their own name. After about 1880 Disston made big inroads into the British retail saw market, and some catalogues, eg William Marples, listed Disston saws, not always making clear that they were.
    3. Styles changed gradually, and in different places at different times and different rates; I find this point the hardest to accommodate to clear time lines.
    4. Dating is sometimes easier if there is a retailer's name as well as the maker's, as the retailer often, but by no means always, had a shorter period of activity than the maker. But (and every statement about saw dating seems to attract a but) - a maker could be bought up and his name continued on a secondary line, as his sales in a particular geographical area could have held up well, even though the overall business had failed.
    5. Sheffield was in the 19th century called "One great workshop", so that even though firms were named and situated in different parts of the town, there was enormous overlap, factoring and outworking. Smaller makers could fill up orders for the big guys who couldn't meet a deadline - and vice versa. Saw handle makers were distinct businesses, as were saw screw makers, mark makers, etching transfer printers, steel makers, grinders, tilters and rollers, and each of these could again be making for many different firms over the years, and putting on their own distinctive look. The town was constantly alive with hundreds of hand carts taking part made goods from one shop to another, usually without any written documentation (in the early days many craftsmen couldn't read or write). Some idea of what it was like can be found in Ashley Iles' "Memories of a Sheffield Tool Maker" - he started in about 1950.

    So (and I hate to sound dampening, or know-all - please excuse me if I feel a bit defeated by this task!) I personally am still searching for good ways to construct these time lines. I'll look forward to reading others' efforts, and I'm sure I'll learn a lot from them
    Best wishes Simon
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2011
  10. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    668
    Hi Simon Joe, All,

    No doubt it seems well nigh impossible..

    I suspect that if I was to buy 100 saws at random off ebay and ask anyone on this forum to assign each saw to a century, that is to say is it 18th 19th 20th century? I suspect that most of us would get it better than 75% right.

    What exactly are we all seeing?

    The first thing we would look for is a mark of some kind, and see if it's a known maker, then look at the handle shape, and style. The type of screws would probably be the next indicator, followed by the size and number.

    I think all of us can already do this, and get within +-50 years, or at least within a general era. With better than 50:50 success rate. The more saws we see on these forums the more we learn and while there will always be multiple exceptions, (there are always more exceptions than rules it seems).

    Sometimes the exceptions are the interesting ones.

    The first few pages of HSMOB has a sort of timeline of features, that could stand a little critical scrutiny and updating, I think that's a good place to start.

    Will it ever be an exact science, I doubt it. But it's fun to discuss.
    Every saw has it's own unique story to tell. I think that's the part of all this that I like the best.

    Regards
    Ray
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  11. pedder

    pedder Active Member

    Messages:
    40

    Hi Ray,

    is it blasphemy to add details like plastic handles, hardened teeth but also

    - slotted spines (Independent saw)
    - ornanmented scrolled spines (Vlad Spehar)
    - medaillons on open handled saws (Wenzloff & Sons?)
    - Corian as handle material?

    When did the use of expensive exotic woods a handle woods start? Lie-Nielsen with Cocobolo? Wenzloff & Sons? henever i get old saws they are made from beech or apple.

    So many saws so little time. :)

    Cheers
    Pedder
     
  12. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    668
    Hi Pedder,

    Sometimes I think that one day in the distant future, someone will be researching late 20th century and early 21st century classic revival hand tools and there will be long involved discussions on when Corian handles first appeared and who first manufcatured hard-point saws..

    So yes, I think it's all fair game, even if the level of interest today is fairly low, it's worth recording for the future..

    I can just see someone in the future writing a history of that famous German tool maker "Two Lawyers Tools" and marvelling at the fine craftsmanship and quality.

    Regards
    Ray
     
  13. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    546
    Timeline discussion

    Just a line or two to add to Pedder:
    The 19th cent catalogues all list a fair number of exotic timbers, such as rosewood, box, zebrawood, mahogany (never seen oak listed) as optional at extra cost. I think that like so many things in the catalogues (for instance supplying standard handsaws up to 44inches long - for 8foot giants??) they were listed just to look good and to pad out the information.
    (But where on earth did Henry Disston et al find all those millions of apple trees?)
     
  14. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    546
    Timeline discussion

    PS and also ebony and satinwood
     
  15. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    668
  16. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    546
    timeline discussion

    thanks a lot, Ray. That takes care of the first million or so....But Atkins, Simonds etc etc??


    Simon
     
  17. ilges71

    ilges71 Member

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    22
    With the shape of any saw handle there is going to be short grain. Close grained timber like beech will cope. Apple, ebony, box etc are even better.
    Oak and ash are too wide grained to be of use in this application as they would split at the short grain very quickly, hence they would not be used.
    Most tropical hardwoods grown in a spiral rather than straight as temperate hardwoods do. This means there is usually a twist in the grain, this will help reduce the short grain effect, but most of them were probably just for popular appeal.

    Graham
     
  18. ilges71

    ilges71 Member

    Messages:
    22
    Birmingham makers

    I have always been concerned that the timeline and some other published information suggests that saw making ceased in Birmingham about 1850 and was certainly aware that Atkins continued for some time longer. I had a chance to make a brief visit to the Birmingham city Library and do a quick analysis of Saw makers listed in their very good run of directories.
    Sadly I did not think to note the makers listed as I did not really have time.

    The results taken from a range of dates to cover the period up to World war 1 is as follows.
    1865 6 sawmakers
    1869 6
    1895 7
    1905 4
    1910 2 Including Atkin & son
    I agree small numbers compared with Sheffield, but still a continuation beyond the generally stated date.
    Details of Atkin, dates, locations etc. are dealt with in British planes by Rees. However the 1852 directory puts Atkin at 116/117 Barford St as opposed to just 96/97 Barford St.
    Additonal mention of other Atkin sawmakers from 1855, when Atkin & sons had apparently just moved to the Rea st Works.
    Edward Atkin Sawmaker Sherbourne St.
    Geo. Atkin sawmaker Moseley st.
    Both these streets are little more than a stones throw from Rea St. and would seem likely to be relations to the original Aaron. I will have to do some family history research into the family.
    The reason I was looking at Atkins is that the site of the factory is in the middle of back to back housing, so I was thinking the housing was old stock from the 1700's in poor condition so knocked down for the factory. Other houses in the area were in fact new in 1840. The National trust has preserved the last of the back to back houses in a nearby street. The usual thing in Birmingham was for a man to start a business from his back room, then take over the back to back house next door and if the factory expanded take over the whole of the courtyard. This was clearly not the case for Atkins, it must have been a purpose built factory, but I am still trying to work out why they started at Rea st, in 1855 when the rest of the area seems to have been developed a few years before then.

    Part of my reason for including the detail is that there has been a reasonable amount of discussion of Atkin saws. Any stamped just Atkin could refer to one of the two above mentioned.

    I have family history connections to a few streets around this area of Birmingham, so sorry if this is too much irrelevant detail, but it does suggest how much information on unknown sawmakers is still to be found from reference to first and second hand sources such as directories which are not available on the internet.
    Regards

    Graham
     
  19. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    668
    Hi Graeme,

    Good point, thanks for checking. I'll update the timeline accordingly.

    Regards
    Ray
     
  20. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    546
    Timeline discussion

    I'd like to post a thought which has occurred to me and would like to hear others' views:
    Has any Birmingham saw maker actually marked his saw as made in Birmingham?

    And that leads on to Atkin: I have the following for him:

    "ATKIN(S), Aaron & Son(s) Ltd BIRMINGHAM
    25 (35) Barford Street 1829-1839
    96 (&97) Barford Street 1842-1849
    116 (& 115 & 117) Barford Street 1850-1855
    Also 58 Ludgate Hill 1850-1855
    Sheffield Works, 12 Rea Street South 1856-1931
    98 (110) Bradford Street 1932-1982
    After 1982 the firm used several addresses, and were denoted as “saw sharpenersâ€￾; they ceased trading in the 1990’s. In many early directories, the name was spelled Atkins, but no saws have yet been recorded with this spelling.
    Atkin (as his name suggests - there were, and still are, lots of them in the locality) came to Birmingham, like William Betts, from Sheffield. From the start he made products other than saws, and like many other Birmingham tool makers his list was comprehensive; it is likely that they made their own saws for an unknown part of the firm’s existence, but none has been recorded with a date much after 1910, and it may be that from then on production was concentrated on planes. Took over Betts, using his Ludgate Hill premises for a time, before they passed to Charles Smith, and used this name for second quality products (the only known case of a non-Sheffield saw maker to adopt this practice). A considerable number of their saws were marked “Londonâ€￾, but as with Sheffield makers who used similar markings there is no evidence that the word implied manufacture there".

    I should add that a descendant of Atkin, (the late) Robert Vale, has just had quite a long article on the firm published in the newsletter of the Tools and Trades History Society.

    Happy New Year to one and all!