museings of a monger

Ok so we’ve established I look at a good deal of saws and I must enjoy working on them. Mix that with my love for details,  interest in history, and tools of all kind and you begin to see my neuroses.

Example A

Check out the chisel marks left when cutting the inlet for the back on this Spears & Jackson back saw. I’ve been working on dating it but it’s safe to say it was made in Sheffield England around 1850.

Let’s think about that. These delicate flakes of English beach were made about 162 years ago. True English beach these days is all but gone. Considering the tight and straight grain and the price of a saw like this when made new.  The wood used would be both, quality and well seasoned. It could easily have come from a tree 300 years old, and sprouted from the earth around 1550. That puts the wood at 462 years old!

Are we stoked yet?

That’s over 300 years before electricity was common place and the common working conditions would included daily contact with diseases like Smallpox, Cholera, Typhoid, and TB to name a few.

Whooph! that’s a lot of math and hopefully illustrates some of the fun history that goes along with these crazy old saws not to mention owners marks and other mysteries you find on handles, backs, and plates. It’s a treasure trove for a procrastinator like myself.

Not to leave commerce out of this post; after all this little beauty will be for sale once restored. To get a price I asked a friend and fellow saw lover, Andy aka Brit from the LumberJocks board for a guestimate on price. He loosely figured the price to about half a joiner / cabinet makers weekly wage or 3 shillings. . . .quite an investment by today’s standards.

Ok, back to work.

Joe F.
Bubble gun historian

2 thoughts on “museings of a monger

  1. Hey Joe (I almost typed ‘where you going with that gun in your hand’, but I guess you’ve heard that one before many times).

    If only tools could talk eh? What stories they could tell. Did you see the Spear and Jackson hand saw (circa 1839 I think) that I just sharpened on my Saw Talk blog, episode #18? What a beautiful tote?

    Getting back to the subject of your post here. Due to the price of quality saws in those days, theft was a problem. Some time ago Joel at TFWW posted some links to some tool theft cases from the records of the Old Bailey. They are interesting because the court records give the value of the items stolen and the date. One of the cases from 1806 says the value of a carcase saw was 4 shillings, so by 1850 a 14″ sash saw could have cost a whole week’s wages rather than half of their wage.

    When you consider the price they paid for their saws and the fact that theft was commonplace, I guess we can forgive them for stamping their names all over the totes.

    • No worries Andy. It’s not the first nor the last I hear it but rest assured Joe’s for generations to come will be tied legendary rocker and that’s fine by me.

      That’s a great point on the theft. I’ll check out Joel’s site.


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