Maker or dealer??

One of the problems for collectors and other tools enthusiasts is determining whether the stamp on a tool is that of a dealer rather than a maker. Sometimes it is easy to be sure as both dealer's and maker's stamps can be seen. For some local knowledge or a search through trade catalogues can find the answer,but for others more research is necessary.


DATE BROS FROME and PINDERS SALISBURY are both local ironmongers, neither of whom as far as I can determine ever made edge tools (the Elwell mark next to Pinders on one blade was also a clue). BOWSHER DEVIZES was a little more tricky, but as BOWSHER is listed in the FUSSELL year books as a customer, it is unlikely they made their own tools. JACKSON CIRENCESTER was originally an edge tool maker who later opened an ironmonger's shop. It is likely that early tools were made by Jackson himself, but later tools may not - close examination of the style of lettering can sometimes give a clue to the age, or maker, of the tool....


In Sheffield makers frequently outsourced edge tools to other makers either to complete an order because they did not have the capacity, or they did not usually make that particular tool (and did not want to lose the rest of the order). That this was carried on elsewhere came to light some years ago when I was restoring a  wooden sighting-level marked William Marples of Sheffield - on the underside of the brass cover was stamped J Rabone Birmingham.


If further evidence was needed, during a visit to the Morris' works in Dunsford some years ago, just after Alec Morris had bought the premises and the business back from Bulldog (English Tools Ltd) I discovered a box of name stamps. Enquiring of Alec  where they were from; he replied that they had made tools for other companies...

As well as Morris, Bulldog, English Tools and Parkes there are also the marks of Elwell, Brades, Marples, W A Tyzack, Whitehouse & Sons, Knapmans, Bowdon, Robert Sorby and Stockton Heath - all of whom were makers of billhooks....

OVENDEN of CANTERBURY - unsold on ebay in 2011/12 - William Hobday & Henry Ovenden are listed as ironmongers in Canterbury in 1838 - by 1889 their premises had been rebuilt as a bank....

This Norfolk pattern marked CWS has a similar stamp to those found on 19th century Kent and Sussex made tools stamped with just three letters. CWS also stands for Co-operative Wholesale Society (the Co-op) 

However on another similar blade one can clearly see the maker's stamp of Whitehouse & Sons, Cannock, Warrented next to the same CWS stamp.... which is probably Cornelius Whitehouse Cannock - another Whitehouse logo.

French makers also stamped tools with the seller's mark. This one by TALABOT (Creuset, Saut du Tarn) also has a partially legible retailer's stamp **(A?)NDRET A COUSSAC

LAUGHTON & JARRETT of HORSHAM are listed as iron merchants and wholesale ironmongers - it is unlikely they ever made any edge tools.

CARTERS Tested Seeds - Carters were nurserymen and seed merchants situated in West Barnes Lane, Raynes Park (London). Their nursrey became a housing estate in the 1970's. It is not known if they sold these billhooks, or if they were a presentation item for their distributers.

J GRIPPER Ltd - Joseph Gripper was an iron merchant supplying agricultural edge tools in Chelmsford (Essex) and nearby Maldon, who took over his father's business ca.1910. This Elwell 2941 Chelmsford pattern socketed billhook, belongs to fellow collector, Scotty Dee, and was previously the property of a labourer on an estate just outside of Chelmsford. It is unusual in that it is a 9 1/2" size, but also being stamped with Elwell's Janus trademark, more commonly seen on export tools. (Thanks to Scotty for researching this one for me...)

HARRY WILLIAMS  NEWPORT  - Williams had an ironmonger's shop at Newport on the Isle of Wight. There was a forge situated behind the shop, but it is not known if edge tools were made there. The IoW pattern is similar to the Devon Half Turn, with a long nose to the beak.

MALLACK of CHESHAM -  I've not yet found any details, but the position of the stamp near the handle and across the blade and its style is very similar to that on the Fussells Improved billhooks, made by Nash.

WOODS RYDE - another Isle of Wight ironmonger who, like Harry Williams in Newport, had a forge behind the shop, but it is not known if edge tools were made on the premises.

PINDERS SALISBURY - Ironmongers  - stamped on an Elwell 4554 7" hook

W C TILL Ltd of BATTLE, Sussex - to the right can be seen the Good Temper trademark of Brades (W Hunt & Sons)

R YATES of MALTON established in 1845 are still in business in North Yorkshire as agricultural and gardening suppliers