Thursday, November 04, 2010

Looking Back

Okay, so the shoulder set off The Back, and generally my miserable carcass is holding up proceedings something chronic. Sorry 'bout dat. So, while we wait for me to fall apart into component bits, some tool history...

There are an embarrassing number of tools chez Alf that have been waiting an even more embarrassing amount of time to be fixed up and made to live again. I dived into the bran tub and fished out a lucky few for treatment. The 2ft rule is not remarkable. To be honest, neither is the "Acute" brand shave, except it had been covered in an 'orrible muddy brown finish and looked dire. I threw conservation to the winds on that one, and got rid of as much of that as possible, and what remains looks okay, I think. The blade's in fairly good order, tight in the body, and it's plated. Really it should go on the "To Sell Before I'm Crushed Under The Tottering Pile" pile, but spokeshaves don't grow on trees...

Where was I? Oh yeah, the group shot. And the tool we're going to focus on today. Take notes; I make be asking questions later...

A rosewood mortise (Or mortice) gauge. This one came from the Newlyn Tool Chest - although in truth it actually came in the Big Box o'Gauges that came with the Newlyn Tool Chest, because there wasn't room for them all inside. Gauge problem? What gauge problem.

Anyway, I'm sure some gauge enthusiast has categorised the different mortise gauge designs and given them sensible names. However I will call this "The Sort With a Manually Operated Slide-y Bit". And the slide-y bit was stuck, the fence/head/stock wold only moved when threatened with a mallet and it generally needed a bit of loosening up. Which I duly did. Some judicious scraping here and there works wonders, but don't be tempted to overdo it. Of course I cleaned it while I went, and Lo! It came to pass that instead of the "W B Raddon? ****ance" which was all I could make of the mark back in 2004 (Eeek!), I could now make out the truth:

"J B Haddon, Penzance" Really, Trust me. I squinted at it like a pro.

Oh dear; that's another one I won't be selling then. I, um, sorta collect tools supplied by Cornish dealers. In the sense that I'm not a collector though, obviously.

So, still remembering the success I had tracking down W Baker of London, I hit the Trade Directories for Cornwall, and struck gold in Kelly's Directory of Devon & Cornwall, 1893. Viz:

HADDON, Joseph Baldwin
Wholesale Ironmonger
2 Market Place
(And resident at 13 Clarence St, Penzance)

Amazingly, Joe was one of only two wholesale ironmongers in the whole of Cornwall at that time. Onwards to the next available directory - Kelly's again, but in 1914:

HADDON, J Baldwin
Wholesale & Retail Ironmongery, hardware dealer & gun & ammunition dealer.
31 Market Place & Bread Street
TN137 (Telephone number, I believe)
(Residence now 5 Morab Road, Penzance)

Baldwin's gone up in the world a bit in 20 years. Business has expanded and although geographically he's not moved far either in business or residence, it's to a rather better class of house. Ah, a tale of business acumen and hard graft no doubt lies behind these bald facts.

As far as the gauge goes, though, it tells us little more than we already knew - it's a nice rosewood gauge. Quite good fun tracking it down though, in lieu of being able to actually do anything constructive. Only a coupla hundred to go...

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