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

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.

Website Maintenance

April 5, 2021. After a long hiatus we've started dusting off the web pages here at Alloy Artifacts. Unfortunately we found a lot of bit-rot, especially with the Google Books clips of period ads or articles — many of these had turned to gibberish, as it seems that the underlying volumes had been reorganized. In most cases the links still went to the same volume, so we were able to find the original item and make a new clip. These clips add a lot of value to the site, but have turned out to be more fragile than expected, and we hope there won't be too many more changes.

Since we were doing general maintenance anyway, we also spent some time to upgrade the web pages to the latest HTML standards, and then ran the pages through the W3C validator. Hopefully this will help ensure that the site works well on whatever devices our visitors are using.

In this flurry of mundane changes we've also been sneaking in a few additions, mostly in the form of scans of period catalogs, but with a few new trademarks and other minor improvements. Be sure to check your favorite pages for changes!

Responsive Design Changes Complete!

May 11, 2019. We've completed our planned changes and hope that visitors with mobile devices are finding the site easier to use. Please let us know if you run into any problems!

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 May 11, 2021)
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