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




Warning: Your browser has Javascript disabled.

Some features of this site require Javascript.

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

Improvements for Tool Logos

January 28, 2023. We're currently working on some improvements that should make it easier to search for and identify tool logos. The first phase of the project is simple but time-consuming: we're going through all of the 200+ companies on the site to make sure that every company that used a tool logo has a "Tool Identification" section with images of the logos.

In addition, we're revising the names assigned to the tool logos to make them easier to find in an index search. By observation, most tool logos consist of one or more alphabetic letters enclosed in an outline such as a triangle, circle, or some other recognizable object. (Shields are very popular.)

Our assigned names are of the form XYZ-Outline, where XYZ are the observed letters in the logo, and Outline is one of the geometric or other outline shapes. (Many of our logos already have names of this form, such as the Billings B-Triangle or Vlchek V-Shield logos.) Looking up an unfamiliar logo could then be as simple as entering the letters and outline in the index search box.

Each logo image will be indexed twice under the entry "Logo Image", once for its image in the "Logos" section of the Trademarks page, and again for its image in the "Tool Identification" section of the corresponding company.

It will take a while to complete this project, but once finished we think it will be easier than ever to locate an unfamiliar tool logo. You can watch our progress by checking the index under "Logo Image".

Missing Indestro Catalog?

November 18, 2022. Catalogs are an important research tool here at Alloy Artifacts, and we would like to ask our readers for assistance in locating a possible missing Indestro catalog. The known catalogs for Indestro have a jump in the numbering from 22A to 55, and the publication date for catalog 55 is ambiguous, with the length of service statement indicating 1966, but a price list with the catalog showing 1971.

If catalog 55 is actually from 1971, then that would suggest that there may be a yet undiscovered Indestro catalog from the mid 1960s. We have a theory that such a catalog (if it exists) would likely be from 1966 and would be numbered as catalog 50, in recognition of their 50th year of service, counting from 1916 as Duro/Indestro did for most of their history. The catalog would also have a length of service statement of "over 50 years", possibly on the back cover.

Some of our readers probably have piles of old tool catalogs in their basements or garages, and we would like to ask you to look through your catalogs to see whether you have a previously unknown Indestro catalog. (The known Indestro catalogs can be viewed at the International Tool Catalog Library.) Also of interest would be any Indestro price lists dated from 1965 to 1970, as these may provide evidence of the unknown catalog.

If you do find such a catalog, please let us know via email, and thanks in advance!

Cold-Broached Sockets

February 9, 2022. Machined and cold-broached sockets were the dominant technology during the 1920s and 1930s, but two companies were using this method of socket construction well before 1920. Both R.F. Sedgley and Will B. Lane produced 1/2-hex drive socket sets for automotive service, with the sets including a ratchet handle, extension, screwdriver bits, and six or seven sockets turned from bar steel and cold-broached. We've known about the Sedgley "Hexall" and Lane "Unique" socket sets since the beginning of Alloy Artifacts, but were never quite sure which company came first.

We've spent the past few weeks updating the histories of the companies, and with the addition of some period advertisements and public notices, we now have a much clearer idea of their origin and development. We're reasonably certain that Will B. Lane's "Unique" set came first, and along the way we even discovered a surprising connection between the two companies.

Both company articles are now linked in the "Briefly Noted" section of the Navigation Bar. And to help track this important technology, we've added a "Cold-Broached Sockets" entry to the index.

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.

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.

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 February 2, 2023)
Alloy Artifacts Home Text and Photographs Copyright © 2005-2021 Alloy Artifacts Site Index