Addis History and Carving Tool Imprint Overview
copyright 2006, Gary P. Laroff
This is an updated discussion of the two major makers of "Addis" tools and
attempt to assign and date the imprints on the tools. Aside from the Galoot
and collector interest in Addis carving tools, the leading carving experts,
when asked about second-hand or classic carving tools, almost always list
"Addis", "Herring Bros." and "Ward & Payne" as the best. Current experts
Chris Pye, Ian Agrell, Mack Headley and others use Addis, Herring and Ward
carving tools. Therefore a bit of Herring and Ward history is tossed in as
necessary when they crossed paths with the Addises.
This compendium is based on the private and published work of others.
Although all the tools referenced are mine, the historical research is a
summary of the primary research of others. For the most part, the
information presented here is consistent with that of Don McConnell some of
which has been copied from his post of 2005. This summary also includes
facts from the Oldtools posts of the past, Barry Learoyd and that forwarded
by others. Much of Don's summary is not repeated here, so you need both
postings to build a complete story. Some facts have been adjusted or
deleted based on new information from The Hawley Collection, who is
especially thanked for unraveling many of the details related to James Bacon
Addis and for the dating of some S. J. Addis trademarks from the period
after Samuel Joseph's death and are on tools made by the firm of Ward &
Payne. This Addis project continues. All those interested in the Addis
history and tools are requested to continue communicating new-found Addis
information to correct and expand what is listed here.
Examples of tools with all the tool imprints/trade marks listed here are
present in my collection of carving tools. All of these are, of course,
Our main interest is with Samuel Joseph Addis (S. J. Addis) and his younger
brother James Bacon Addis (J. B. Addis). There is evidence that the Addis
family was in the edge-tool business as far back as 1717 or 1720 with
continuation well into the 20th Century. Late 19th Century Addis listings
state "Established 1717". There were perhaps as many as ten generations of
Addis edge-tool makers.
Addis History, mostly chronological:
1792 - This is the furthest back we can go at this time. Samuel Addis was
an edge tool maker who lived on Church Street, Deptford, in the County of
Kent and who was listed as an auctioneer in the 1820s and 1830s. He had two
sons, Samuel Addis (uncle to S. J. Addis, otherwise a dead end) and Joseph
1792 - Joseph James Addis born to Samuel Addis. Joseph James was a tool
maker and had eight children: three sons and five daughters. The oldest was
Samuel Joseph and the youngest was James Bacon. Both sons, and perhaps
others, were apprenticed to Joseph James, but we know the most about Samuel
Joseph's apprenticeship and life in London and James Bacon's business
relationship with the firm of Ward & Payne and his difficulties with the
Joseph James was apprenticed to his father Samuel and started in business in
Kent. We can track him back to at least 1840, but he must have been in
business in Kent before that. He is first listed in London in 1845 and is
still listed there in 1858 at the time of his death. Address was 4 Church
Street, Deptford. The earliest tool imprint we have of Joseph James is
"ADDIS". The tools have all the characteristics of early carving tools.
1811 - Samuel Joseph Addis (the S. J. Addis) born to Joseph James Addis.
1829 - James Bacon Addis (the J. B. Addis) born to Joseph James Addis as the
third son and eighth (last) child.
1840 (or 1845) to 1858 - Joseph James worked at 4 Church Street, Deptford
and stayed there until he died in 1858. For the earlier part of this
period, Samuel Joseph was his apprentice and or partner. During this time
or earlier, he used the "ADDIS" and later the "ADDIS SENr" imprints. The
latter was to differentiate his work from that of Samuel Joseph.
1846 to 1853 - Samuel Joseph, carving tool maker, was located at 6 Lower
Fore Street, Lambeth. For a time in 1851, the Hawley Report notes him away
from home at Union Court, possibly setting up his display at The Great
Exhibition, 1851. Primary imprints were "S. J. ADDIS JUNr" and "S. J. ADDIS
JUNr LONDON." I know of no tools with a "Lower Fore Street" imprint.
Regarding "S. J. Addis, Junior", this was a common reference to a son and
Samuel Joseph had two daughters and no sons. There was no S. J. Addis, Jr.
and numerous sources agree on this fact, which contradicts Goodman. The
terms senior and junior refer to a father and son was quite common. After
Samuel Joseph's death, his nephew James Bacon Addis, Jr. had a son named
1850 - Thomas Herring, the 16 year old son of William Herring, an edge tool
forger in Sheffield, moves to London and "visits" Samuel Joseph Addis.
Thomas began working for Samuel Joseph, perhaps as an apprentice.
1853 - Thomas Herring, 19, marries Harriet Addis, daughter of Samuel Joseph
Addis. The couple had two sons, Thomas Herring (born 1853) and Joseph
Herring (born 1857). Harriet died in childbirth in 1857. Thomas later went
into the carving tool business with his brother Edwin, setting up shop
across the street from Samuel Joseph Addis on Gravel Lane.
1854 - James Bacon Addis (age 25), carving tool maker, was located at 17
Charlotte Street, Blackfriars. The year 1851, when he was 22, is also
documented. The Hawley Report notes this as the last known address until
1871 in Sheffield, although we know he moved to Sheffield in 1863. Other
sources also list the address 29 Lucus St. There are no known imprints from
the London era of James Bacon Addis, but some probably exist out there
somewhere. The tools with prize medals dates of 1870 and later are too late
to have been made in London and those with early prize medal dates state an
address of Sheffield.
1853 (or 54) to 1863 (or 64) - Samuel James listed at 2 & 20 Gravel Lane,
Southwark, London. Imprints were "S.J. ADDIS, 20 GRAVEL LANE, LONDON" and
"S.J. ADDIS, 20 GRAVEL LANE, SOUTHWARK LONDON". There are also tools
imprinted with a large "S.J. ADDIS JUNr LONDON" on the back and a smaller,
finer "S.J. ADDIS 20 GRAVEL LANE SOUTHWARK LONDON" on the top, which might
be old stock from Lower Fore Street remarked early in the Gravel Lane era.
The evidence seems to fit this assumption.
1858 - Joseph James Addis dies.
1863 to 1867 (or 68) - Samuel Joseph working at 49 & 50 Worship St.,
Finsbury, London. Imprint: "WORSHIP ST, FINSBURY" with "S.J. ADDIS LONDON"
followed by the Masonic crossed compass and square insignia, often noted in
writing as "XX". These are the first of the S. J. Addis tools that appear
to have the crossed compass and square insignia. The insignia is part of
the metal name stamp and is always after the name and address on these
1867 (or 68) to 1870 (or 1871?) - Samuel Joseph working at 68 & 70 Worship
St. It has been suggested that Samuel Joseph didn't move in the 1867
timeframe but that the city renumbered Worship St. so that 49 & 50 became 68
1869, 1870 or 1871 (probably 1870) - Samuel Joseph Addis dies. He outlived
one of his daughters. Shortly after his death, the Sheffield firm of Ward &
Payne bought rights to his name. There remain open questions regarding
whether S. J. Addis or Ward & Payne stamped the sweep numbers on the tools
and who manufactured the S. J. Addis tools with the crossed compass and
square insignia. These issues are discussed further below. The tools with
crossed hammers over an anvil and the letters W P are from the Ward & Payne
era and were manufactured after S. J. Addis had passed away. At this point
the S. J. Addis story moves from London to Sheffield.
There was potential competition between the Addis brothers. The Hawley
Collection states "Although both Samuel Joseph and James Bacon Addis
exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851, with James Bacon being awarded a
medal, they do not seem to have been working in a formal partnership. From
1854, Samuel's advertisements claim that he was the 'sole inventor of the
improved carvers' tools exhibited at the Great Exhibition, 1851'".
Before discussing the Sheffield years, we should discuss the firm of Ward &
Payne. Much is known and written about them so the following is just enough
to place them in perspective and allow us to continue the story. Apologies
for any errors in the company's early history.
Many companies, especially Ward & Payne, had a penchant for marketing and
the tendency to claim they were older and bigger than they actually were.
This summary has little interest in whether Ward & Payne was discontinuous
with the previous David Ward company or not, as The Hawley reports shows
clearly, and will discuss Ward & Payne as the continuation and growth of an
old family-based company.
Ward & Payne was founded in Sheffield by one David Ward, edge-tool
manufacturer in 1803. The company had the name David Ward. David Ward's
son Edward joined the company around 1837 and the company name was changed
to David Ward & Sons or David Ward & Co. Perhaps both names were used in
Henry Payne appears as an edge tool maker in 1837 and joins the company
prior to 1845. Perhaps he joined in 1837 and caused the name change to
David Ward & Co. In 1843 Henry Payne registered the well-known Ward & Payne
trade mark of the crossed hammers above an anvil with W to the left and P to
the right. Henry Payne became junior partner in 1845 and died in 1850 and
ownership of the company reverted back to the Ward family. After 1845 the
firm built a large business in edge tools concentrating on carving tools,
chisels and gouges.
Another David Ward (1835 - 1889), possibly the son of Edward Ward, took over
the company in 1855 and was apparently an aggressive young executive with
the company before that. He grew the company's fortunes in both the sheep
shearing scissor and carving tool businesses. The company grew, expanded
their factory to a full city block and published a 501 page catalog in 1911.
They were apparently still in business up to around 1970.
1853 - James Bacon Addis, Jr. is born in Lambeth, London.
1863 or 1864 - James Bacon Addis, living in London and after winning a
second prize medal in 1862, essentially declares bankruptcy and applies for
work with Ward & Payne in Sheffield. Ward & Payne had received customer
feedback that Sheffield-made carving tools were not as good as those made in
London and that the tools made by Addis were the best, so James Bacon Addis
was given a job. James Bacon lived just outside the Sheffield town center,
on Triplett Lane, which becomes Portobello in Sheffield. This means he
lived in the shadow of the Ward & Payne factory. At the time, Samuel Joseph
Addis was still at the Gravel Lane address and would live for another 5 or 6
years. Stories that James Bacon moved to Sheffield when his brother died
are most likely incorrect. James Bacon worked as a contractor supplying
carving tools to Ward & Payne.
1871 - James Bacon Addis had considerable difficulties with the local union,
which are well documented elsewhere. On at least one occasion, he moved
back to London. In 1871 he is listed as a carving tool manufacturer at 127
Portobello in Sheffield. He is registered as living at Court 16, Rockingham
Street with his wife, son James Bacon Jr. and an extended family.
1870 to 1871 - After the death of James Bacon Addis's brother Samuel Joseph,
Ward & Payne bought the rights to the mark "S. J. Addis of London" and
started marketing carving tools under this esteemed brand. There may have
been a large stock of tools moved from London and either Ward & Payne or
James Bacon Addis may also have made them. The Hawley Collection and others
state that James Bacon made the carving tools for Ward & Payne for at least
James Bacon Addis was busy and made tools for a number of companies. I have
seen a carving tool with a Marples three-leaf clover imprint overstamped J.
B. Addis & Sons and also a Ward & Payne so overstamped.
1872 - By this time the relationship between James Bacon Addis and Ward &
Payne was apparently failing or canceled. James Bacon is listed as working
from Arctic Works, Court 2, Rockingham Street. Tool imprints from this
period state the maker as "J. B. Addis". Actual tool dates are indicated by
the Prize Medals years listed. See below.
After 1872 -- By this time James Bacon was articulating in advertisements
that the only true Addis-made carving tools carried the "J. B. Addis & Sons"
brand. Ads from this period state the valid imprints on tools and enable us
to date many of the J. B. Addis tools made after 1872. The Hawley
Collection lists 1874 as the most likely date for a split between James
Bacon Addis and Ward & Payne. The company was still working at the Arctic
Works at least past 1881.
1879 - James Bacon Addis, age 49, was living at 46 Newcastle Street with his
wife and two grandsons. Nearby, at the Arctic Works, lived James Bacon, Jr.
(age 26) a carving tool maker, his wife Elizabeth and son Samuel J. Addis.
The principles of J. B. Addis & Sons were listed as James Bacon Addis, James
Bacon Addis, Jr., and George Allkins Addis. Don McConnell also lists Samuel
Joseph Addis of London, but this is probably a reference to Samuel Joseph
Addis, born that year as son of James Bacon Jr. and grandson of James Bacon
1890 - James Bacon Addis dies in Sheffield.
1891 - Jane Addis, widow of James Bacon, lives at 46 Newcastle Street.
James Bacon Jr. (age 39), carving tool manufacturer, lives next door at 44
Newcastle Street with his wife Elizabeth (age 35), and three sons and a
daughter - Samuel J, aged 12; James B, aged 8; Thomas F, aged 6 and Ada aged
1911 - Apparently James Bacon Addis, Jr. has died by this date. J. B. Addis
& Sons continues with principles Elizabeth (55), George Addis (age 43) and
James Bacon Addis III (age 28).
1960s - Ward & Payne were selling S. J. Addis Brand carving tools through
the 1960s. The latest catalog in my collection is from 1961. Ken Hawley
notes that J. B. Addis & Sons carving tools were made in the same factory
until shortly before World War I when the manufacturing was moved to the
Soho Wheel in Sheffield. Directory entries for the company end in 1965.
Trade Marks, Marks and Imprints on Tools
This list of tool trade marks and imprints comes from the tools that I have.
Certainly others must exist. In the list below, the word "over" refers to
two lines of text. The slash symbol "/" implies part of the imprint is on
the top of the tool and part is on the bottom (or left and right of the
tool). The symbol "XX" stands for the crossed compass and square. WP
stands for the Ward & Payne insignia of W and P flanking crossed hammers
over an anvil.
ADDIS Joseph James Addis, probably between 1811 and early 1840s. The
tool looks old with solid square billet shaft and a well shaped thick
octagonal shoulder. Lettering is large. No sweep number.
ADDIS SENr Joseph James Addis probably 1845 - 1858 when he needed to
differentiate his product from those of his son. Tool is very much like the
one described above except the octagonal shoulder is flatter. Lettering is
large. No sweep number.
S. J. ADDIS JUNr Samuel Joseph Addis probably 1846 - 1853. Tool is very
much like the one described above except the octagonal shoulder is flatter.
Lettering is large. No sweep number.
S. J. ADDIS JUNr over LONDON (large lettering) / S.J. ADDIS 20 GRAVEL LANE
SOUTHWARK LONDON (medium lettering). Samuel Joseph Addis probably early
in the period 1853 - 1863 when older product from Lower Fore Street was over
stamped for new shop location. No sweep number.
S.J. ADDIS 20 GRAVEL LANE / SOUTHWARK LONDON (medium lettering) Samuel
Joseph Addis 1853 - 1863 or 1864. The shoulder is a heavily rounded
octagon. No sweep number.
S. J. ADDIS LONDON followed by XX / WORSHIP ST FINSBURY Samuel Joseph
Addis 1863 - 1867 or 1869. No sweep number.
XX followed by S. J. ADDIS over LONDON (small lettering) Without a
street address and without a sweep number, this tool might be a late S. J.
Addis made tool around 1869, an S. J. Addis made tool left over and
purchased by Ward & Payne or could be a Ward & Payne carving tool. If the
imprint has the XX taller than the small neat two lines of text , then this
tool should date to the 1880s. Ward & Payne had their markmaker, Edward
Prior of Sheffield, make this trademark during the 1880s. Note that during
this period, some if not most Ward & Payne carving tools were still being
made by J. B. Addis.
XX followed by S. J. ADDIS over LONDON / Sweep Number This is probably a
Ward & Payne tool from the 1880s. See above.
XX followed by S. J. ADDIS over CAST STEEL / Sweep Number This is
probably a Ward & Payne tool from the 1880s or early 1890s. The only reason
I would date this as 1880s is that other CAST STEEL imprints have ENGLAND on
the reverse, which usually implies the tool is from after the 1890s or early
XX followed by S. J. ADDIS over CAST STEEL / ENGLAND and Sweep Number
This is probably a Ward & Payne tool from the 1890s or later. Although I
can't find the definitive resource, I believe tools had to state their
country of origin starting around the mid 1890s.
WP followed by S. J. ADDIS over CAST STEEL / ENGLAND and Sweep Number
This is probably a Ward & Payne tool between 1895 and World War I. Although
I can't find the definitive resource, I believe the imprints stating "CAST
STEEL" ended around World War I.
WP followed by S. J. ADDIS / ENGLAND and Sweep Number This is probably
Ward & Payne tool between World War I and World War II. This is really a
guess, but the XX trade mark and CAST STEEL are no longer there.
S. J. ADDIS / Sweep Number. These were in production by Ward & Payne in
1961. The removal of the WP logo seems to have occurred around or after
World War II.
J. B. ADDIS / PRIZE MEDAL over 51, 62, 70 & 71. No Sweep Number. J. B.
Addis production 1872.
J. B. ADDIS & SONS / PRIZE MEDALS over 51, 62, 70 & 71. (large lettering).
Probably early imprint with new company name including his sons. Post 1872.
J. B. ADDIS & SONS over ARCTIC WORKS SHEFFIELD / 9 PRIZE MEDALS over 51 &
62. Must be after 1872.
J. B. ADDIS & SONS over SHEFFIELD / 9 PRIZE MEDALS over 51 & 62. Current
J. B. ADDIS & SONS / 9 PRIZE MEDALS over 51 & 78 (large lettering). After
1878, probably after 1881.
J. B. ADDIS & SONS over SHEFFIELD / 9 PRIZE MEDALS over 51 & 78. After
1878, probably after 1881.
J. B. ADDIS & SONS over SHEFFIELD / 10 PRIZE MEDALS. Well after 1889,
J. B. ADDIS & SONS over SHEFFIELD, ENG. / 10 PRIZE MEDALS. Probably mid
1890s or later..
J. B. ADDIS & SONS over SHEFFIELD / 10 PRIZE MEDALS over 51 to 89. Well
after 1889, perhaps 1890s.
J. B. ADDIS & SONS over SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND / 10 PRIZE MEDALS over 51 to 89.
Probably after 1890s.
J.B. ADDIS & SONS with Sweep Number. Heavy black finish on back of tool
very much like a current carving tool from Henry Taylor. Probably well into
1900s and perhaps even World War II.
We should address the triple question of: A) who invented the current
universal system of carving tools, meaning the sweeps that became the London
or Sheffield list? B) who assigned the numbering system? and C) who started
putting the sweep numbers on the tools?
A) There is sufficient circumstantial evidence attributing the invention of
the "improved carvers tools" to S. J Addis for me to accept this as fact.
It has been repeated in many ways by various parties and no source or
advertisement ever seemed to discredit S. J. Addis from being the inventor.
Therefore, by default, I give him credit for the sweeps, etc. but not
necessarily for the numbering system describing them.
B) S.J. Addis might have invented the numbering system in use since at
least 1870, but he had no need for it. He had a single shop, advertised his
street address and patrons probably visited him and discussed their needs
face to face and then looked over the wares. Why would he need a four digit
SKU numbering system? On the other hand, Ward & Payne needed it. They sold
around the world (or at least Europe, Australia and North America) via
catalogs and needed a way to communicate tool length, the sweep, the size
and whether straight, long bent, short bent or back bent. Ward & Payne
needed the numbering system so that customers could accurately order tools
and their factory could ship the right ones. The earliest chart I can find
is from 1870 and is from Pawson & Brailsford, Sheffield. Whether S. J.
Addis invented the numbering system or not, there is no evidence that he
ever used it. The evidence is that the Sheffield manufacturers did use it.
C) The carving tools attributed to S. J. Addis in this summary do not have
the sweep numbers stamped into them. All the "S. J. Addis" carving tools
with sweep numbers bear the later Ward & Payne trademarks and imprints.
Stamping sweep numbers in carving tools seems to have begun after 1870, the
year S. J. Addis died.
There is a lot of information in the above summary and a lot of assumptions
had to be made. It is important for us to continue this research and
discuss the issues that don't seem to add up.