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Hummel, Charles F. / "English Tools in America: The Evidence of the Dominys" from Winterthur Portfolio
(Winter 1965)

English tools in America: the evidence of the Dominys,   pp. 27-36 PDF (3.2 MB)


Page 28

double jointed plyers, steel pads [braces] with sets of bits; silver-
smiths, braziers, and tinners tools; turning lathes for any trade
, coopers vices, all sorts of gimblets, plane irons double and
single center pins, . . all sorts of carving tools and white smith's
work.'
Advertisements by toolmakers in the newspapers of New York during
the post-Revolutionary period appear to be less frequent. A short notice in
the Columbia Gazetteer of August 29, 1793, mentioned: "Screw Augers
manufactured and sold by John Hull, No. 97 Queen Street, New York
where his Friends and the Public, may be supplied with any quantity or size
of the best warranted augers." : The growth in both size and efficiency of
the tool industries of Birmingham and Sheffield, beginning with the mid-
eighteenth century, probably made it difficult for American manufacturers
to compete with importers of tools. It is significant that the company of
William Butcher, a large Sheffield firm exporting edge tools, did not find it
necessary to register a trade-mark in the United States until 1872.'
Philadelphia, the largest and most important city in the colonies before
and just after the Revolution, did not attract as many toolmakers as New
York, but it did foster one specialty in tool manufacturing. The making of
craftsmen's planes developed in Philadelphia (luring the 1760's. Through
the apprenticeship system, as well as immigration, the city remained a
center of plane production until the early nineteenth century.
The first local craftsman to come to the attention of Philadelphia
artisans was Samuel Carruthers (also spelled Caruthers). His shop on
Third Street, "the third door turning up from Church Alley, and a little
above the Goal [sic]," was made conspicuous by a sign emblazoned with a
handsaw and a carpenter's plane. An advertisement he placed in the Penn-
sylvania Chronicle for March 6, 1767, is important to the study of Ameri-
can technology because it helps date the introduction of an improved form
of woodworking plane. Carruthers stated that among the carpenter and
joiner planes he produced were "double-iron'd planes of a late construction,
far exceeding any tooth planes or uprights whatsoever, for cross grained
or curled stuff." It has been assumed that this type of blade (Fig. 3) was
an innovation of the nineteenth century because it is common in planes and
catalogues of that date, but the advertisement by Carruthers proves it was
known by the mid-eighteenth century and was being produced by one of the
progressive toolmakers of Philadelphia.
Although he was successful enough to attract at least one apprentice,
Benjamin Armitage, Jr.,- Samuel Carruthers had to supplement his income
through the sale of imported tools. In the Pennsylvania Chronicle for
January 18, 1768, he notified readers:
'RITA S. GOTTESMAN, The Arts and Crafts in New York, 1726-1776 (New York: The New-York
Historical Society, 1938), pp. 197-198, 200-201, 290. See also advertisements for the manufacture
of tools by Elias Bonnell and Robert Farris, William Jasper, Bailey and Youle, and Thomas
Smart, clock and watch filemaker, pp. 162, 198-200, 204.
'RITA S. GOTTESMAN, The .4rts and Crafts in New York, 1777-1799 (New York: The New-York
Historical Society, 1954), p. 259. See also the notice in 1782 of Nathan Beers "who undertakes
to make and finish most edge tools," pp. 303-304.
* WAL.ACE A. BARTLETT, Digest of Trade-Marks Registered in the United States for Machines,
Metals, Jewrlry and the lardvare and Allied Trades (Washington, D. C.: Gibson Bros., 1893),
p. 161. The firm W. & S. Butcher registered three trade-marks: an anchor for use on files, a
horizontal B in a circle, and a Maltese cross for edge tools and razors.
' See his advertisement in the Pennsylvania Journal, August 26, 1772, in which he states that he
"served a regular apprenticeship with Samuel Caruthers, of this City."
WINTERTHUR PORTFOLIO II
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