Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life.

Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life. Sunset at Telegraph Point.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Value Far Beyond Pearls - Old World Chisels

Yep - Old Tools time again.
By now you will know that I have a relationship with old hand tools that permeates my woodwork.  And from time to time I wax lyrical about them.

Anyhoo, years and years back - can't remember when, it may be decades by now, I acquired one chisel among a few others, that I liked immediately, and have used ever since. It is a Mathieson bevelled edge with a lovely fine blade.

Ever since, I have kept looking for others - and every few years or more, another has come along.

On Sunday, I found another, and now have a grand total of four.
These are 1/8, 1/2, 5/8 and 1-1/4.
The handles are a joy to hold, and the steel is very good.

Alex Mathieson - Glasgow - made hand tools from 1822-1966.  Just when these particular four chisels were made is unknown to me, but I'd like to think that they are either late 19th or early 20th century tools.

The handles are beech, and brass ferrules guard against splitting - as these are tanged bevelled edge chisels.  They are excellent paring chisels, the shape of the handle aiding their dexterity.

Having shared my find with some friends, the subject of American chisels came along, specifically in relation to trying to identify trade marks stamped on the chisel face or socket.

This is the one that sparked the discussion, and next to it, what it would have looked like in its younger days:

Specifically: Union Hardware Co - Torrington Connecticut
It occurred to me to post some more of the American made chisel logos to assist in identifying troublesome and hazy trade marks in the future.
So - here they are.

Chisels Manufactured in the USA
Brand and Trademark

Of necessity, this will be a work in progress as I do not have access to all the possible trade marks and logos - there are hundreds.  It is but a start.

Blue Grass by The Belknap Hardware & Manufacturing Co

D R Barton - Rochester NY - One of the best

Douglass Manufacturing Co - Precursor to The James Swan Co - and as good as ...

Greenlee - Rockford Illinois

C E Jennings & Co

G I Mix & Co

And ........

Peck, Stowe & Wilcox - later to become:

Pexto - along with P S & W - one of the best

Sargent & Co NY

Stanley - of course!  Of which there were numerous trade marks.

The James Swan Co - successor to the Douglass - One of my top two US chisel makers of all time.

L & I J White

Image courtesy of Nicholas Bourke - Gratias my friend
Winsted Edge Tool Works - aka Thomas Witherby

T H Witherby - The other of my top two US chisel makers of all time.

Well this is a start - I'll add to these marks as they come to hand.  In the meantime here is a small reference for those seeking clarification of US Chisel Trade Marks & Logos.

If you have any different logos or trade marks that you don't mind sharing, you can: would be very much appreciated.

Happy chiselling


  1. Lovely chisels. I went through a phase where I collected (and still use) a full set of witherby socket chisels from 1/8 to 2 inches and rehandled them from an old claret ash we removed from our yard. They are great to work with, hold an edge well and are coveted by my children!



  2. Thanks Gavin.
    I don't have a full set of anything in the US chisels department.
    All of mine are a mixture - predominantly Swan, Witherby and Pexto, but I rank D R Barton very highly too.
    If you have any logos that you don't mind sharing you can e-mail me as above.

  3. Not a problem - I'll check when I get home.



  4. Came across this almost a year after the post.
    I've been collecting a number of ld makers, including many listed above and some others.

    Coincidence being that your top two is mine as well. I love many brands, but the ones I seek out the most are the Swans and Witherby's

    PS7W/Pexto, Jennings, Greenlee, Winchester, Bartons, Whites (in no particular order) are some of the others I look out for.

    Nice post :-)


    1. Thanks Jake. All of the brands of chisel that you have listed are classics, and splendid steel.
      I have come to like very much any of the D R Barton chisels. Of all those that I have used, the edge holding is excellent - and it goes without saying that they sharpen to a fine edge. They seem a little harder in their steel for some reason.
      Enjoy your chisels.

  5. I have a chiesel marked Rsarton or barton with some more letters after it number 832 any info would be appreciated.

    1. D. R. Barton
      Is a common stamp for his chisels. I believe it references a medal award in that year.

  6. D R Barton - Rochester NY - One of the best steel chisel manufacturers from this period in the US. The steel is consistently well tempered and the chisels hold a very sharp edge. Keep them, care for them and use them - they are true jewels

  7. Hello,
    I recently acquired an old slick chisel . Total length is 24 inches. Width is 1 3/4 inches, maybe a hair more. As best I can tell it reads H. Morte ...Cast Steel Warranted. I've researched a fair bit and can find no US ( I'm in the US) or UK maker by this name. Any thoughts or clues where to look would be appreciated. thank you.

    1. That is something of a mystery to me too - I have a nagging connection somewhere in my grey matter but it refuses to surface at the moment. If I can remember the reference I will update these comments here.
      The one person who might know is Ol' Jim Bassett who wrote "Chisels, Chissels, Chizzels". Jim lives in the US but I do not have a contact for him. He must be getting on in years now, but if he is still alive I'm sure that he would be interested in your find