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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 30

as they may be had again, shall have .5 reward from James
Rousham.8
The number of men making tools in Sheffield suggests the extent of
production in England. The tool industry there, as in Birmingham, was
highly specialized. The Local Register of Sheffield, compiled by John
Thomas and published by Robert Leader in 1830, lists the number of
these manufacturers in tracing the growth of the tool industry from 1797
to 1828 (pp. xxvi-xxix) :                1797        1821        1828
Anvil makers                          4           3           4
Brace-and-bit makers                              5          11
Auger makers                                      2           3
Awl-blade makers                      4           7
Edge-tool makers                     13          40
Makers of joiner's tools                         10          20
Sawmakers                            14          43          60
File manufacturers                   40          47          80
These figures represent only the number of firms in Sheffield. The number
of craftsmen they employed is another means of estimating the scale of the
industry. In the Local Register of Sheffield (pp. xxix-xl), John Thomas
reports that in 1830 he found 1,458 people engaged in making files, 463 in
making saws, and 603 in making edge tools.
Sheffield firms boasted they could supply quality as well as quantity.
The title page of a catalogue for the Castle Hill Works of Cutler and Com-
pany, published in Sheffield between 1833 and 1837 and bearing a title in
longhand identifying it as "Book 87," includes the motto: "~It is well known
that a great proportion of Tools are manufactured Only to Sell, and, an
Infallible Truth, That those are the Cheapest which do the most Work."
Two engravings also appear on the title page, each a composite view of
procedures at the factory which specialized in saws, files, edge tools, tools
for joiners, knives, and forks. One engraving represents the melting and
molding of cast, or crucible, steel (Fig. 1 ). In comparison to other steels
known in the period, this steel was "more homogeneous in composition and
more free from impurities.""~ Perfected by Benjamin Huntsman (1704-
1774), it was not accepted immediately. English manufacturers at first
considered it a harder steel than most products required, but in the late
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, tool manufacturers were among
those recognizing the advantages it offered.10 The view of the manufactur-
ing processes at Castle Hill reveals that workmen first cast the steel in
ingots, then shaped and tempered the different forms. External appearance
of the factory, transporting raw materials to it, and loading barrels packed
with finished tools are all illustrated in the second engraving on the title
page of the catalogue issued by Cutler and Company (Fig. 2). "Book 87"
is typical of the catalogues used by factors, merchants, and craftsmen in
placing their orders. Printed from engraved plates, the pages include illus-
trations of tools or parts for them, notes on dimensions, and comments on
quantities that could be ordered (Figs. 3, 4). Prices, the most variable
'ALFRED CoxE PRIME, The Arts and Crafts in Phitadetphia, Marytand, and South Carotina, 1721-
1785 (Philadelphia: The WAalpole Society, 1929), p. 187.
'H. R. SCHUBERT, "Extraction and Production of Metals: Iron and Steel," A History of Tech-
notogy, ed. Charles Singer et a]. (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1958), IV, 107.
"1 SCHUBERT, 108.
WINTERTHUR PORTFOLIO II
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