English Saws


The History of Industries and Toolmaking in United Kingdom



"In England the name 'Sheffield' has long been synonymous with fine-quality steel, no more so than in the early nineteenth century when the town, though seeming to possess few advantages for the manufacture of steel, virtually monopolized the industry in Europe.

In contrast, the United States before 1860 was still in the age of wood and iron, relying almost exclusively on England for supplies of cast steel.  No better example illustrates the Anglo-American relationship termed the Atlantic economy."

Geoffrey Tweedale,
Sheffield Steel and America.




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Categorizing British toolmakers is not a trivial matter. It is especially cumbersome when working on Sheffield toolmakers of late 18th and early 19th centuries. Although there are some that specialized in a specific tool, the majority of them produced a large variety of tools (or sometimes simply marketed tools made by others).

In the second half of 19th century, firms increasingly began to specialize. Some remained tool makers, but became known for a particular type of tool. For example, Spear & Jackson, which developed an enduring reputation as sawmakers. Other firms emerged as steel producers, to become some of the largest in the world.

The categories listed here are inevitably somewhat arbitrary. Sawmakers are listed as a separate group, although many toolmakers in other groupings also produced saws. The "Toolmakers" group lists everybody else, except for plane makers and steel producers.

This arrangement will be refined further as we focus on specific tools, made by particular toolmakers.



Ibbotson Brothers
Globe Works

Tweedale’s Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers

2nd Edition

The early history of Globe Works was intertwined with the Ibbotson family.  This was a relatively common name in Sheffield, so untangling the history of the factory is difficult.
Find more in the Directory.

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English Tools


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