Unusual Panel Saw by the American Saw Co.

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by wiktor48, Jul 26, 2014.

  1. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    Couple of weeks ago I asked for help with a medallion from American saw. The medallion was very much compatible with two medallions from this site.

    After gathering some more information about medallions I put together an article and posted on EAIA new website in the blog section.

    The story is related to this forum in many ways and especially because Joe Steiner was the instigator of this affair.

    It starts like this:

    Some time ago Joe Steiner (former partner at Sauer & Steiner Toolworks) sent me this email:

    "Hey Wiktor,

    I don't know if this interests you but here are some pics of a saw from a co. that is the first example I have seen (maybe you have some examples) but which I would think are relatively scarce. The saw was in rough shape and the etching was nowhere to be seen behind some very thick rust. I saw the handle in a pile of saws and it screamed special. Cleaned it a bit but didn't want to go too far. It will never be a collector or even a user saw because of the unfortunate breakage on the nose but what a cool etch. I wonder if this was advertising in a useful form for their patented removable teeth in the circular blades that they may be more famous for. I don't know if you want to include it in the stuff you have on the American Saw co site.

    Specifics on the saw... 20"s now but has been broken so was a little longer, closed drop beech handle held on with 4 split nuts (2 on back MIA) and a graphic 1" Warranted Superior medallion with eagle holding arrows below 8 (9?)Stars. Mr. FARMER was very proud of his saw because he signed it on both sides. The etch in the middle of the blade - "MANUFACTURED BY AMERICAN SAW CO, NEW YORK XLNT WARRANTED SUPERIOR EMERSON'S PATENT JULY 16th 1867".

    I don't know if there was something special on that date but his patents weren't on this date. I love the "XLNT", short for excellent?

    enjoy,
    Joe Steiner"

    From here the story continuing on the blog.

    I am also posting pictures of the saw and three medallions related to the article. Since the article is rather extensive and many images are interspaced within the text, it is not suitable for the forum format. You can read the full article here:

    http://eaiainfo.org/2014/07/25/unusual-panel-saw-by-the-american-saw-co/

    Your comments and any further help will be greatly appreciated.
    Wiktor
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  2. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Wiktor & Joe,

    Interesting article about a very unique saw, One thing I noticed about the medallions is that the arrows are held in the eagle's dexter talon, rather than the sinister talon... there was some speculation that this was representing a more war-like stance than the more usual olive branch for peace in the right (dexter) talon.

    I'm starting to think that the reversal might just be that the English version by someone at Taylor Brothers got it the wrong way around... rather than a declaration of warlike intentions :)

    Ray
     
  3. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    Hi Ray, thanks for the kudos and comment of medallion design.

    I agree with you that to assign the meaning about the right or left talon holding arrow is a bit too much. I am rather skeptical about the designer of the eagle for this medallion planned to send some subliminal messages to the world this way. This also reminds me some discussions I read about number of stars in some of the medallions on early saws and the meaning of these numbers. The point for me is that these interpretations are simply a speculations by our contemporaries and I haven’t seen any historical source for this.

    On another note, just yesterday I found another medallion of the same design, see attached. It is from a saw by Tillotson and the whole article is on my site. (I guess memory goes first… :cool:.

    This leads me to the Tillotson subject. I checked your Checklist of Sawmakers but there is nothing about them. I do have material from Geoff Tweedale but I am looking for some more. I would love to see more of their saws and good picture of their trade mark. It is a harp but this is all I know. I have very small pic of it and attaching it here (eBay). The article on the Tillotson backsaw is here: http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/CiantiM/Tillotson-02/tillotson-02-01.asp

    Any help on this?

    Best regards to all,
    WK
     

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    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  4. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

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    1,084
    Hi Wiktor and Ray,

    Lets get the easy bit out of the way first.

    HSMOB has Thomas Tillotson down as 1834 to 1856 and registered as a merchant at 56 Coal Pit Lane in 1839. He further has Thomas and John as 1834 and 1841, the and Sons mark as 1839 and the and "Co." mark as 1852 to 1856.

    But I suspect that you will have this information already. I can tell you that virtually all the Tillotsons that I have seen on Ebay have come from North America and which would indicate that their major market was there.

    As for the medallions, if evidence as opposed to conjecture is being sought, then the only real evidence that I can conceive of is a document from a medallion manufacturer sourcing the medallions to either a British firm, a American firm, or both.

    In the absence of such evidence (Simon where are you?), then conjecture is all that we have. Having said that, if the Eagle medallion in question or its derivatives is on three different makes of British export saw, then presuming that the saws were exported as a finished product and not as unfinished/parts, it must be odds on that it was a British produced medallion. (But was the design originated from here or copied or adapted from a prior American design?)

    Which brings us on to the the American Saw Co. saw. As soon as I saw the image I thought "that must be a British Saw". It is not impossible that it (or at least part of it) was manufactured in America but the medallion is possibly British and the handle is certainly a style frequently found over here. In fact we only really produced two handle designs here about the time in question, this one and its near variants or a London flat.

    This brings me to no answers but some questions.

    Did the three British firms copy and American design and produce their versions of the medallion here?. HSMOB has Beardshaws as from 1825 to 1895 or 1911 when a "Limited" Company. He has Taylor Brothers from 1849 to 1915 and Tillotson from 1834 to 1856. So from this point of view the question to ask is "Are any of the medallions on the American Saws dated to pre 1849?" If so then we definitely copied your design to tart up our saws to make them more acceptable to your market. If not, it gets us no further as we do not know which came first - the American chicken or the British egg. (Although I do suspect that we would have copied you to make the saws more attractive to your market, never mind when they were made. It is the sort of thing that we did. Ref the George Washington Greaves Export medallion on my Slack Sellars and Graysons saw.)

    Was the handle made in America to a British pattern or manufactured over here and exported.? I notice that the handle is beech. I know that we were using beech for handles. What I do not know is what the predominant handle woods were in America at the time of manufacture and in particular what woods the American Saw Co. was using at the time. If it wasn't beech then the handle is probably British made. If you generally or the A S Co. were using beech as well then, as above, it gets us no further.

    Was the entire saw manufactured over here and exported without the etch?

    And now the heresy, was the entire saw(including the etch) manufactured over here and exported? But to where, America or Canada? I don't know how many saws we were exporting to America post 1867, or how many America was exporting to Canada but I suspect that our exports directly to Canada were quite prolific and we may not have been too bothered about cutting out the middle-man with or without his consent. Is it possible that a saw manufactured over here and exported directly to Canada would be a way of avoiding import tariffs?? I do not know what the regime, if any, was around this time.

    It could, of course, have got to Canada via a migrant worker at the time or at any time since.

    One more comment before I finish. In the article on the EAIA, reference was made to the saw possibly being made/presented in connection with the Paris Expo in 1867.
    I have seen a couple of saws posted on this site that were probably made for one of the Great Exhibitions of the 19th century. From memory I would say that these saws had far more grandiose etches and exotic wood handles than this one. Whilst the etch is complex and pretty I am not so sure that it is up to such an auspicious occasion, nor would the standard beechwood handle be. Which means, of course that whilst it may still have been made for some other occasion, it could easily have been a very ornate production model, or, as alluded to, a marketing device.

    I don't think that this has got us anywhere, but it has been an interesting WAG.

    Fred
     
  5. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    Fred, thanks for the comments. All options you listed are obviously possible, but I would like to limit the scope a bit.

    1. Many sawmakers in US, especially at the beginning of their carriers used very traditional English handles design.
    2. The American Saw Company did not produced hand saws of any kind for mass market. They specialized in circular and long cross-cut saws. Very few hand saws exist and no known catalog lists any hand saw.
    3. I suspect that hand saws that we know about were made during very few years that Emerson was a superintendent at the works. I also think that they were a demonstration saws or gifts to potential customers of their circular saws. I know about another saw with similar, large etch - see pics attached.

    Now, you elaborated extensively about various routs that the saw could take, including production in US, assembling in UK, medallions going every possible way across the pond, etc., etc.

    I admit that these options are a new information to me. I would like to know some more about these different possibilities and are they documented in any literature. To be blunt, I have never come across this type of information or (possibly) didn't pay attention. So, please let me know the sources - I would like to learn some more.

    Thanks much, WK
     
  6. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    97
    No pics

    For whatever reasons, pictures are not showing...

    Ray, It appears that upload of images doesn't fork for me. ???
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  7. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    668
  8. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    Ray, images are in the mail... email, that is.
    Thanks for your comments on the article. It is an interesting story to me and Joe as well.
    Best, WK
     
  9. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    668
    Hi Wiktor, Good timing. Here are the pictures..

    emerson_saw-620.jpg

    EMERSON_SAW_ETCH-620.jpg
    I don't think you did anything wrong, with the image upload, there seems to be some sort of server issue with uploading..

    Ray
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  10. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    97
    Excellent Ray! Thanks so much for this.
     
  11. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

    Messages:
    1,084
    Hi Wiktor,

    I have done an inordinately long and perhaps not always to the point reply to try to put a base under my previous musings.

    If you do nothing else, look at the etch on Joe's Taylor export saw. It is a sight for sore eyes.


    That we exported saws to America is a given, and normally the better quality saws as would be natural if the desire was to maintain or enhance sales. Hence in the early days the Kenyon’s, Barber and Genn’s , Groves and S and J’s to mention but a few.

    That we, to put it crudely ,sometimes tarted our saws up in order to look better or to fit in with the American expectations of what a good saw should look like is also, I believe, indisputable.
    Ref.

    http://www.backsaw.net/forum/index.php?threads/458/
    Joe’s post no.1 and 6 and particularly the etch on the blade, and Simon’s post no. 5. Also referencing a four medallion export Sorby.

    http://www.backsaw.net/forum/index.php?threads/436/
    My Taylor Export Saw

    And, of course my Greaves export Slack Sellars as cited previously.

    I would put the Beardshaw and the Taylor Brothers with the Eagle medallions cited by you in this category, saws adapted for the American market. Being undoubtedly British saws I am assuming that the medallions were manufactured in this country. There is always the possibility that they were manufactured and fitted in America, but currently that is unknown. As is whether we designed them or you did and we copied them. I would go for the latter.

    Thus saws did go across the pond around the time in question whether whole or in parts. And by the looks of the relative disposition on Ebay of saws in our respective countries (and Canada), mainly from us to you. (More early British saws in North America than early North American saws in Britain by an enormous margin) And they did go in parts according to Simon, blades in one barrel/case, handles in another in order to facilitate efficient packing. (Where the medallions and saws screws went, I don’t know). So a mix and match on the saws being assembled in America would not be out of the question.

    Now the time of manufacture of your A S Co. saw (1867 at the earliest) comes at an interesting time as far as import tariffs go. America had imposed the Morrill Tariff Act of 1861 which made imported raw materials and finished goods into America significantly more expensive. I did read somewhere that Disston was a great proponent of this Act, and the Disstonian Institute website accepts that as Disston made his own steel, this gave him a price advantage over competitors domestic (and foreign) Italics mine. We would thus find it harder, although not impossible to export to you.

    As far as US/Canadian trade went, this picture is not as clear.

    The Cayley-Galt tariff of 1858 imposed duties of 20% on manufactured goods entering into Canada and 10% on partly manufactured goods. Whilst the Reciprocity Treaty which was cancelled in 1866 by Congress related to raw materials only, it was perhaps an indicator of which way the trade wind was blowing.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayley-Galt_Tariff


    Now the whole point of Empire was that, apart from the Mercantile advantages of raw material access and imports, it also gave a relatively captive market for exports.
    http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk/3397/1/B...in_the_Nineteenth_and_Twentieth_Centuries.pdf Page 1 para/3
    I cannot copy and paste the text of this.

    Thus, post 1867 we should have a much easier time (in principle, I don’t know how it worked in practice), exporting to Canada than you would. So why not commission saws in Britain to be exported to Canada. A bit far fetched I know, but possible if your saw is of British manufacture.

    I also find two points that you made in reply no. 5 to your AS Co. thread open to some interesting possibilities.

    “2. The American Saw Company did not produced hand saws of any kind for mass market. They specialized in circular and long cross-cut saws. Very few hand saws exist and no known catalog lists any hand saw.
    3. I suspect that hand saws that we know about were made during very few years that Emerson was a superintendent at the works. I also think that they were a demonstration saws or gifts to potential customers of their circular saws. I know about another saw with similar, large etch - see pics attached.â€

    I would comment here that as there are no extant catalogues of handsaws and the premise is that those that were produced were mainly produced for special purposes, then why should the company go to all the trouble of making them itself. Have them factored for it by a handsaw manufacturer. It would probably be a lot less expensive if done by a company that is already set up for the process of handsaw production. Saws made by a maker and marked for different companies was rife over here. Possibly so in America as well??

    Now I accept that if this was done, it would be much more sensible to have an American company do it for you, but a British company would not be out of the question. After all, it was only 6 odd years after the inflow of British saws to America would have been severely curtailed, perhaps we still had some kudos whether deserved or not.

    I think that it was Kiwi who coined the term WAG (Wild Ass Guess). In the absence of real evidence, WAG-ging is all there is. And who knows, there may sometimes be a kernel of truth in it.

    Fred
     
  12. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    Fred,
    I think you spent a lot of time to convince me of issues I know quite a bit about already. I have been studying saw making in US and UK for years by now and do know basic issues like import, export, tariffs and competition. Look at my website some time, if you have a minute, at sections on UK Tools and Saws and saw tools - www.wkFineTools.com is the url. So, I propose to mutually understand that we both know what is it that we are talking about on at least basic level.

    My questions were specifically related to your speculative propositions about the AS saw and how it might travel back and forth to have it made. I was asking about any specific example in literature or documents that would illustrate the travels you propose for one saw, several saws or big shipment that would be exported or imported either way, partial product, like blades or handles exported to US from UK for assembly in US, medallions being made in US for saws imported from UK and assembling UK saws in US. These are the issues that I am interested in.

    And I am not thinking about George Sitwell and the export of saws to Barbados. I am basic my questions on your statements that similarities of medallions of AS saw and Taylor medallion could be because the medallion was made in US and Taylor saws were assembled in US or something to that extent... Although I understand that specific documents about that probably do not exist, however I am looking for any material that would describe similar transactions. I think it would be fascinating read for all of us.

    In any case, I will check all the links you posted to see what's there. Thanks for the PDF file on trade with South America, but it is a bit out of line of my interest at the moment. I will keep it however for later reading.

    Best, WK
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
  13. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member

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    1,084
    Hi Wiktor,
    I think that Simon put the question to bed about the documentation for the production of medallions in Sheffield at least, in another thread on here – it does not exist. There were brass founders and saw screw makers aplenty and some at least probably made medallions but documentation seems to be lacking. If you have any or find any, it would be nice if you put a link to any article on this site as, I am sure it is of interest to all of us.

    I do not know of documentation for saw exports/imports. It may or may not exist. It would probably take quite a while in Sheffield library to find it if it is there but that saws were exported, mainly one way (to America) at least until the 1860’s is indisputable.

    As for the AS Co. saw I have no facts as to its manufacture or the source of its W/S medallion. I suspect that as far as documents go, there will be none if it is not included in any available catalogues.
    My speculation was about the saw being commissioned in Britain as opposed to the physical saw traversing the Atlantic twice in order to get to Canada. And that I believe is an outside chance.

    You, more so than I probably know the rarity or otherwise of English handle designs being used in 1867 in the US. Again, I suspect (excepting Disston) that they were few and far between in terms of volume for production saws, but a presentation saw may be another matter. Thus the English pattern handle coupled with the fact that two of the three known Eagle W/S medallions cited by you were found on English saws led me to said speculation.

    Speculation. by its nature, lacks proof/evidence, otherwise it is fact.

    Irrespective of the country of manufacture and without whatever amount of tongue-in-cheek I made my original statements I do, however, think that you should seriously consider whether or not this saw was made by the AS Co. If they did not have production model handsaws, it would make much more economic and practical sense to have a small run of the saws factored for them. Again, no evidence – just instinct.

    If you have examples of American handsaws (excepting Disston) of pre or around this period that are accessible online, I would be grateful for the links as I have seen so few

    Fred
     
  14. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    Fred,
    thanks for your response and clarification of your comments.
    Now I know you a bit better.
    Best, WK
     
  15. Joe S

    Joe S Most Valued Member

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    Hery Ray, Fred , Wiktur, et al.
    I figured I might add a couple of things. I knew I had seen other examples of the medallion and I finally found one in Mike Stemple's great assemblage of different saws. Fred asked where he might find good pictures of early American saws and Mike has done a wonderful job of collecting a huge array of some very interesting and rare saws. That collection has grown considerably since this album was last updated.

    https://plus.google.com/photos/1167...5490065710312392834&oid=116740232904988541224

    I have mentioned before in another post the whole album here.
    https://plus.google.com/photos/116740232904988541224/albums?banner=pwa

    The saw was a Cortland/Wood saw that Mike figures to date in the mid 1850's and probably one of the Sing,Sing products. Other saws in the collection have different connectors but it is another example. It is ironic that the American Saw Co. that I started this with was found in a very small village called Courtland (spelled differently) just north of the shores of lake Erie. How it got there after 150 years, who knows.
    I dont' know if there is a connection to all these saws other than the American saw co saw being from New Jersey which is relatively close, but all the saws could have been built in New York and therefore used a screw/medallion maker close by. A short run order with slight variations suited to a client and this is why the odd eagles that aren't quite the same doesn't seem too far fetched. Again, finding a specific documented New York screw maker would help a lot I think.

    Joe S.
     
  16. ray

    ray Administrator Staff Member

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    668
    Hi Joe, Wiktor, Fred..

    Another thought...

    We know, from Simon's research, that, In the UK the major supplier of transfers was Bagshaw, starting from around 1849, and spread quickly, because of the cost and production advantages.

    The question, is who was the supplier of etching transfers in the US? Was Henry Disston making his own?

    Such a large and elaborate transfer 1867... Which company in the US had expertise similar to Bagshaw?

    Regards
    Ray
     
  17. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    Joe, Ray and Fred,

    Yes, the review of saw from Mike’s collection would be a good example for Fred to see many American saws with handles patterned from English makers.

    As to Cortland Wood (this is a first and last name of one person) – this is a nice example of the same medallion. Excellent memory Joe… Unfortunately there is not good close up of the medallion… I will see if I can get that from Mike.

    I am positive that the ASC saw was not made in New York and I suspect it was made by Emerson himself. We all need to keep in mind that Emerson, who was a driving force behind the company, was a special character and very controlling and focused person. Emerson would never even thought. IMO, about having his saws made by anybody else. I suspect that there was very few hand saws made by the company, possibly only special saws as gifts of marketing tools (speculation only at this point). I also believe that in analyzing this saw or any other saw it is very helpful to get familiar with a history of the company and biography of the principles, if possible.

    With that in mind I would suggest for all to read this part on my site: http://www.wkfinetools.com/hUS-saws...inetools.com/hUS-saws/AmSawComp/ASC-index.asp.

    Another point is that the ASC was organized in January 1866 and the saw was made in 1867 or later (not too much later). The saw was a celebration of the patent received by Emerson in that year – 1867.

    Back to Cortland Wood – he was a part of several contracts awarded by Sing Sing prison for manufacturing of saws and files. He was actually one of several members of the click that was investigated in mid 1850s (1855 if memory serves) for shenanigans in the prison and all contracts were suspended during that time. He was not a sawmaker, really, and limited his work to putting his name of some saws made at Sing Sing. He was involved in complicated scheme with Ibbotson (Ibbotson Brothers-Globe Works) and was selling his saws out of Ibbotson’s store/office. He disappeared from the scene after investigations. Other members of this group of “businessmen†were Holroyd, Cheesman and a few others (don’t remember the names right now). Someday I will write it all up – have all research done and compiled, just not enough time to do everything I would like to do.

    As to medallions makers and etch makers in US – even more murky scene than in UK. No info – as far as I know. But I have hopes that some material will surface at some point. Mostly major sawmakers made their medallions themselves, but question still remains about earlier period – 1835 to, say, 1845 for branded medallions and much wider period for generic medallions with Warranted Superior label. I think that Philadelphia sawmakers of 1840s – 1860s had their medallions made locally. The capabilities were in place already.

    As to the etching – no info so far.

    Well, this is enough for this post.

    Best, WK
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  18. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    Here is another saw with a medallion of my interest.
    The saw maker is... J & I Taylor... Interesting!
    I briefly checked any material that I have or exist on the net about their offices in US - nothing.

    The last pic is a medallion from this site and originally included in the article.

    If any of you have something on their activities in US, I would appreciate it very much.

    Best,
    WK
     

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    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014
  19. kiwi

    kiwi Most Valued Member

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    352
    Another Taylor & Son (a Taylor Bros tradename).
    This is a small 3/4" dia medallion, on what was originally a 4 medallion saw, found locally in Ontario. It's been modified with a replacement steel shank peened to the medallion (a seemingly not uncommon practice to repair/strengthen medallions)
    The smaller nose medallion, 1/2" dia, is a warranted superior "lion and unicorn". Unfortunately I don't know what the 2 missing medallions looked like.
     

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  20. wiktor48

    wiktor48 Most Valued Member

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    Thanks kiwi for keeping your eyes open.
    Maybe we will be able to find some clues in numbers... ;-)