Alloy Artifacts Museum of Tool History "Exploring Ingenuity in Iron"




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Welcome to Alloy Artifacts!

Alloy Artifacts is an online tool museum and resource center for information on 20th century hand tools. You'll find thousands of high-quality photographs of different types and makes of tools, with background history on the tool companies that helped shape the industry. We also provide tables of patents and trademarks, logo images to help identify unfamiliar tools, a timeline of tool industry events, and finally a Site Index to help find everything.

Tools in the Alloy Artifacts Collection
(Click on photo for more information.)

  The Quotidian Artifact

Publication Date for J.M. Waterston Catalog No. 25

January 17, 2022. One of the distributor catalogs in our collection here is the catalog No. 25 from J.M. Waterston of Detroit, which is available as a reprint from the MWTCA. The catalog is undated and there's no discussion of the publication date in the reprint edition, but the catalog lists Blackhawk Q.D. tools that were first offered in 1925.

We did some checking online and found some confusion about the date, with one source placing it in 1930. But with some further research, we found an advertisement for J.M. Waterston on page 545 of the November, 1926 edition of the Machinists' Monthly Journal, with a note that catalog No. 25 was available. A similar ad in the November, 1925 edition of the same publication offered catalog No. 24, so on the basis of this evidence we can conclude that catalog No. 25 was published in 1926.

If a further refinement to the publication date were necessary, we could note that the J.M. Waterston ads in the same publication for July and August of 1926 did not mention a catalog, likely in anticipation of the new edition being ready late in 1926.

Tracking Distributor Catalogs

January 15, 2022. Distributor catalogs can be an important source of product information, especially when a company-specific catalog is not available. Most of our company articles have a section for industrial distributors, where we summarize the company's product listings in the catalogs of their known distributors. The catalog number and year are then indexed under the distributor's name, along with the companies represented.

Recently we've wanted a way to check on what distributor catalogs are available, so we've added an index entry "Distributor Catalogs" to summarize the references. The sub-entries are all See Also links to the specific distributor in the index, making it easy to review what catalog editions are available and what companies are represented.

More Website Maintenance ...

December 4, 2021. After a productive summer and fall of house maintenance and outdoor projects, we're ready to get back to work on Alloy Artifacts and do .. more website maintenance. We've started looking for broken links and references that have turned to gibberish, but have also been adding some period advertisements and catalog scans.

As always, we have a substantial backlog of tools waiting to be cleaned and photographed, and hope to be adding new material soon. In particular, we have two more 1920s era socket sets from Packer Auto Specialty and hope to add these in the near future.

Mystery Solved .. 14 Years Later!

May 2, 2021. Back in 2007 we found several "Chrome Molybdenum" offset box wrenches with distinctive forged-in "size panels" on the shank, but couldn't identify the manufacturer. With the hope that additional clues would appear (or that someone would recognize the maker), we placed the wrenches in our "Mystery Tools" section.

Then recently while doing a routine review of the 1938 None Better catalog, we noticed that the illustration for offset box wrenches seemed to have some faint markings. Getting out the magnifying glass, we found what appeared to be ... "Chrome Molybdenum" and two size panels! This piqued our curiosity, and remembering that None Better sometimes used Barcalo as a contract manufacturer, we next got out the 1934 Barcalo catalog. The last page of the catalog has an illustration of chrome molybdenum box wrenches, and close inspection found the same distinctive markings! With Barcalo confirmed as the maker of the mystery wrenches, we have moved them to their proper home in the Barcalo article.

To save our readers the trouble of straining their eyes (or finding a magnifying glass), we made a high-resolution scan of the illustration and extracted a close-up view of the markings. We're glad to have finally solved the mystery, and this exercise also confirms the importance of good catalog illustrations in rediscovering the history of the tool industry.

Tracking Alloy Usage

April 23, 2021. Readers of this site know that the development of alloy steel is one of the ├╝ber-themes appearing throughout the site. In order to help track the progression of alloy steel, we've started tagging early reports of alloy steel usage in tools with an entry in the index, under the heading "Alloy Steel".

We haven't finished yet, but the entries so far are showing that alloy steel usage began seeping into the tool industry well in advance of the momentous introduction of the Bonney CV line in 1922. This confirms our impression that interest in alloy steel was already very high in the 1910s, and it was only a matter of time before the tool industry adopted the new alloys.

New Index Search Now Available

April 14, 2019. We've added a new feature that lets you search the entire index using keywords such as company names, tool types, or model numbers. Just enter your search terms in the form at the top of the home page and hit 'Search', and a new page will come up with a ranked list of matching links. The search is case-insensitive and will find partial matches, so you don't need to enter the full keyword, and to look for multiple words together you can join them with an underscore (e.g. duro_metal_products).

Home Page Changelog (Last Updated January 23, 2022)
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