Very short Blythe London Backsaw

Discussion in 'Forum: Saw Identification and Discussion' started by streetcore, Aug 17, 2017.

  1. streetcore

    streetcore New Member

    Hi there. I've started to get interested in old hand tools recently and found a very short brass backed saw the other day that is stamped "Blythe London". The useable portion of the blade is only about four inches long and I'm wondering if it could have been made this way or is it more likely that someone cut it down to this size? I found a picture on this site of a similar saw with a longer blade, but I've not found anything similar to this one.

    If the blade was replaced, could this still be a useful saw or is it more of a novelty item at this size?

    Thanks for any advice or information. Here's a few pics:



  2. fred0325

    fred0325 Most Valued Member


    I don't know whether it has been cut down or not, although I suspect that it has. The front of the brass back does not look at all factory made, and there looks to be a little heat bluing on the none-toothed part of the blade under the handle. This may have been done by an uncooled rotating wheel (angle grinder?)

    Although, in the saw's favour, the fracture in the blade under the handle is in about the right place for such a thing being the genuine article (at the back at least) and so perhaps the bluing may be a recent attempt to tidy the back of the blade up.

    The stamp is currently central to the back, which could be the "right" place for the stamp, but it is also possible that the stamp may have been originally asymmetrically placed towards the rear, so that if it has been cut down from the front, the mark would have been centralised.

    Perhaps someone else could give an opinion on this.

  3. Peter Armstrong

    Peter Armstrong Member

    I'm far from an expert but the edges of the stamp around Blythe is what you see on saws made in the late 1700's early 1800's. In the day music instrument makers did use small saws so the length could be kosher.

    I have a 7" dovetail saw I use for cutting small trim in a little mitre box I made for that saw but a 4 1/2" saw would do the job just as good. Just depends on how big a piece you want to cut with it, for small jobs it would work good.

  4. David

    David Most Valued Member

    Here's a picture of the only Blythe London saw I have, and the mark is, as Fred suggests, closer to the handle and not centered. BSSM has the mark shown as being around 1840, which is more or less in line with Peter's suggestion. The handle shape of your saw, Streetcore, strikes me as possibly being earlier than that, but we all know the folly of dating by handle shape.
    . Blythe.jpg
  5. Peter Armstrong

    Peter Armstrong Member

    Just looking at the shape of that saw, to me they both look like a Howel and if the Blythe wording was changed to Howel the makers stamp would look correct too.

    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
  6. Peter Armstrong

    Peter Armstrong Member

    A question for the saw historians.
    Looking around online a few seem to think the Blythe saws with this stamp are very early 1800 saws. Now given how close the Blythe is to a Howel, could be that Howel took over the design from Blythe?

  7. Underthedirt

    Underthedirt Most Valued Member

    Here's another Blythe for comparison, off center stamp, smaller fixings. Streetcore that's a lovely little saw you have, that handle is to die for...:)
    I find London saws difficult to date, a lot of early features seemed to linger on, rounded toes to the spine, smaller fixings & simple decoration & slight chamfers to the boss areas.....
    Peter, I'm with you- the Blythe, Howel & J.V.Hill saws all have the same look about them.



    Attached Files:

  8. Dusty Shed Dweller

    Dusty Shed Dweller Most Valued Member

    What is the exact length of the saw? Commercial saws tend to be to the inch, with little variation.

    The spine end is certainly not factory, and the blueing both lend credence to this saw being cut down, but I doubt that it was ever a particularly big saw. Why not retooth at say 18 or 20 ppi and use it for dovetails?
  9. David

    David Most Valued Member

    Peter, since Howel's working dates are earlier than the Blythes it's possible that they used Howel's pattern, but not the other way around. In any case, handle patterns often seem to have been shared by several makers over time. That's part of why using them for dating is so inexact.
  10. Barleys

    Barleys Most Valued Member

    The sight of a 4inch back saw must raise the question of whether this started out that size, or was modified:
    In favour of originality are the name and place marks, nicely centred. The Sheffield saw trade turned out what they called toy saws, starting at 4inch blade length, but whether they would have had a full sized handle I doubt (the half dozen or so saws I have which I've called toy saws all have smaller handles, some much smaller). The only catalogue which actually lists them is that of Ward&Payne (1911), who were major tool dealers and didn't make saws themselves. No other Sheffield saw maker (we have catalogues of all the main ones) lists toy saws, and their back saws start usually at 10in and occasionally at 8inches. Holtzapfellel's 1844 catalogue (again of a dealer, not maker) lists back saws starting at 6inches. Whether the London trade made toy saws I do not know.
    In favour of an altered saw is the screws, which are reversed, suggesting the handle has been off at some stage, the disproportion between blade and handle size (but I agree, a short blade for small work is fine), and the bluing under the handle.
    There is no documented date for Blythe prior to 1832, but the problem there is that there are no London directories before that date which list saw makers as a class. I have a Blythe saw with a mark that has a saw-tooth border which I've dated to c1840, and other makers, eg, Moulson Brothers (Sheffield), used that sort of decoration on their marks until the 1840s.

    All in all I'd vote for an altered saw – but such an interesting one. Simon

    PS picture of the W&P entry for toy saws (I've no idea what a "Fancy brass back dovetail saw" would look like – it could have looked like a gent's saw, with a straight, inline handle) IMG_0548.JPG