OldTools Archive

Recent Search Bios FAQ

206870 "Ray Gardiner" <ray@e...> 2010‑08‑04 Re: Spear & Jackson split nuts backsaw question
Hi Josh, Darren et al,

Spear and Jackson are one of the very few Sheffield sawmakers that have
survived for such a long time, that in itself makes dating very difficult
to be precise, the easiest ones to date are the saw makers that were only
in business for a few years, that makes it easier.  With Spear and
Jackson, it's not known with any certainty exactly when they started
making saws but most likely it was late 1790's early 1800's.  And the are
still there today in 2010, albeit rubbery handles and space age styling.

So the definitive answer for dating your saw is somewhere between 1800 and
2010... :-)  This can be narrowed somewhat by guesswork and looking at the
style...  Label Screws tended to become more popular later in the 1800's I
think the first instances were around the 1840's or therabouts, so we can
be fairly confident it's probably after the 1840's

The design doesn't appear in the 1915 catalog, and although not definitive
proof, that would very indicate a pre 1915 date.

I had a look at a few Spear and Jackson saws I have and making some guesses.

Towards the latter half of the 1800's the stamps on the back tend to
become more wordy and elaborate. Less stamps usually means earlier. I can
only make out "Warranted" and "Cast Steel" in addition the the S&J mark.

The sharpness of the hook, the overall shape and look of the handle looks
earlier than 1900...

Taking it all into account and having a wild guess, I would think it's pre
1900, maybe as early as the 1860's

For what it's worth, Spear and Jackson sponsored the publication of a book
in 1960 called "The Story of the Saw" to mark what they called their 200th
anniversary, which would imply they started making saws in 1760. I think
this is a bit of marketting exaggeration.  Referring to Simon Barley's
work on the subject, the early history of Spear and Jackson can be mostly

The following is mostly quoting from Simon Barley's research....

The precursor firm was Love and Spear (ok, I'm ignoring Love and Manson's
steel making partnership formed in 1764)

Love was a steel maker and a partnership was formed in 1769 with Alexander
Spear, a wealthy merchant from Wakefield, to make steel, there are no
records of them having made saws. Love died in 1783 and Alexander Spear
probably around 1805, later that year a partnership was formed of John
Spear (Alexander's Nephew) William Caldwell, William Barker and Samuel
Johnson, who had been "for several years past partners with Alexander
Spear making saws" The partnership agreement was renewed for 3 months,
after which a proper dissolution of the old partnership would be drawn up.

The implication here is that Samuel Johnson was making saws for at least a
few years prior to 1805... So 1800 seems a more likely date for the
earliest saws than does 1760 :-)

By 1814 Samuel Jackson was taken on as an apprentice, and sometime before
1825 as a partner.  Spear and Jackson was born..

The US market was a major customer as early as 1828-9 a ledger from that
year shows that some 19% of their total production was exported to the


> It looks like an earlier saw- it has that pronounced hook on the top
> which usually means mid-1800s, though with S&J that might be
> different. It definitely pre-dates the backsaws in the 1915 catalog I
> have.
> Nice saw!
> Josh

>>> For those that are interested, or might be able to date the saw a bit
>>> better if you had a look at it, I've uploaded some quick snaps of the
>>> backsaw:
>>> http://www.afewchase.com/Spear-Jackson/1.jpg
>>> http://www.afewchase.com/Spear-Jackson/2.jpg
>>> http://www.afewchase.com/Spear-Jackson/3.jpg
>>> http://www.afewchase.com/Spear-Jackson/4.jpg
>>> http://www.afewchase.com/Spear-Jackson/5.jpg
>>> The length of the blade at the teeth is 14-3/4".
>>> The exposed top of the blade back is 14-1/2".
>>> Darren Addy
>>> Kearney, NE
>>> --


Recent Search Bios FAQ