Some less well known British edge tool makers
This page was originally titled 'English edge tool makers' - but as billhooks are found in all parts of the UK, and also in Eire, I have changed the title. Most billhook makers however are English, with a few in Wales and Ireland - the only Scottish maker discovered to date is A Matheison of Glasgow...
Most edge tool makers made billhooks, but for some makers no examples have yet turned up. In some cases a maker's name stamp on a tool is all the information that I have - if you know more, please let me know.
On the following pages I am listing some of the smaller, and often less well known, British edge tool makers. The histories of the large industrial concerns such as Brades, Elwell or Spear and Jackson are readily available elsewhere.
Note: many of the images on the following pages are of billhooks, or other edge tools, not in my collection. The images have been taken from the web, e.g. eBay, and my apologies for not acknowledging the source or copyright.
One of the problems in researching the history of edge tool makers is that the information available on-line is often inaccurate. Obtaining via other sources is often difficult and time consuming.
The use of old trade catalogues, directories and year books, such as Kelly's or Piggot's, and the occasional advertisement help greatly. An excellent and accurate source is Grace's Guide.
The above advert for Marsden & Co, from 1858, is taken from their pages. Not only does it show the range of tools and other products, it givbes an indiacvtion of the size of the works, from which one can estimate the size of the workforce and the likely output. It also shows that they won a medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Following this there were many other international exhibitions in the Victorian era, and indeed up to WW2 in 1939, both in the UK and abroad. Occasionally images of the trade stands of edge tool makers can be found, or references to their range of products.
One of the aims of this website is to share information - if you have old catalogues, or copies of advertisments, of edge tool makers - please contact me to enable me to publish the information on these pages.