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.

[Sample Photo]
Examples of Tools in the Alloy Artifacts Collection
(Click on photo for more information.)

  The Quotidian Artifact

Noteworthy Events for 2019

Although we usually don't mention the coming of a new calendar year, 2019 brings several events that should be of interest to our readers. The first is that Cornwell Quality Tools has reached their 100th year milestone, and we'd like to offer them a big shout-out: Congratulations on your first century! Cornwell is the first of the modern tool-truck companies to reach the century mark, and we wish them continued success in the future.

Cornwell has had many achievements during its long history, but we'd like to mention a couple from their early history: Cornwell was the first company to use alloy steels for substantially all of their production, beginning at their inception in 1919, and Cornwell was also the first company to make hot-forged sockets in the standard 1/2-drive configuration, starting around 1926.

A second noteworthy event for 2019 is that the U.S. copyright laws will finally release another year of publications into the public domain. Beginning in 2019, works copyrighted in 1923 or earlier are now in the public domain. Why is this important to Alloy Artifacts? Readers familiar with the slice of history documented by this site know that many of the interesting developments in the tool industry occurred during the 1920s and 1930s. But until this year, anything published in 1923 or later was potentially still under copyright, under the absurdly long copyright period granted by U.S. laws. This meant that publications from 1923 on could not be presented as full text by Google Books, which has greatly hampered our ability to track developments in the tool industry. We hope that Google will act promptly to release materials published in 1923, and that each coming year will bring new resources for historical research.

One final event will probably not be noted anywhere else except here at Alloy Artifacts, but we think it should be significant for our readers. May 31, 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of modern socket technology, based on the release of Blackhawk's heavy-duty interchangeable socket sets on that date in 1919. An example of one of these early sets can be seen as the Blackhawk No. 8 Socket Set, and our article on Blackhawk will provide lots of further information.

Ten Years and 5000+ Tools Later ...

Alloy Artifacts is 10! September 2015 marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Alloy Artifacts website. From a modest beginning with three articles and ten or twenty photographs, the site has grown to offer more than 5,000 photographs of tools, with historical information for dozens of tool companies. Long-time readers may remember the "dark ages" before this site came online, when an internet search for a tool or tool company likely found nothing at all, or at best a mix of speculation and misinformation. Alloy Artifacts provides solid information in the form of photographs, references to printed material, public documents such as patents and trademarks, and (when possible) links to other online resources.

Home Page Changelog (Last Updated Jan. 1, 2019)
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