have written several stories about the Erik Anton Berg
manufacturing company. Mostly I have been engaged in trying to
date company line of tools depending on stamps and logotypes.
Much new and hard evidence had surfaced since the previous
stories, which has effectively crushed several loose theories.
Which is all good.
This particular story will not be so much about the type study
or dating Berg tools, as it is about the new findings which have
occurred, very much regardless of my work, but through evidence
brought forward by people such as my good friend Glen Crook in
Canada, author of the website
Galootopia, Randall Nelson, a collector of unusual chisels,
but also through the Facebook group
Gamla verktyg and the detective work by Fredrik Dahlstedt.
What we have now is access to no less than five Berg catalogues
as well as advertising material and a handbook made for the Berg
employees. All these provide exciting details about the company
and graphic illustrations of the tools.
The findings include early Berg trade catalogues, a separate
booklet for leatherworking tools and rubber knives and a late
Bahco era catalogue adding evidence that Bahco maintained the
Berg brand for several years after they acquired the company. It
also shows that even very late, many of the original plane
cutter models were still being made.
Significantly important to me is that a very early Berg
catalogue from 1899 includes seven logotype variations, which
confirms previous theories that most logotype variations were
The catalogues further broadens the picture of Berg as a
diversified tool maker. The shoemakers tools and specialty
knives were not just add-ons, they were an important part of the
Berg sales and were exported globally. The shoemaker’s catalogue
from 1949 displays shoemakers knives of the following patterns:
American, English, German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Dutch,
Vienna and Hungarian.
But let’s start from the very beginning.
The early years
The company was founded in 1880. The first products Berg made
were straight razors. He hired two benches in this small
building in Eskilstuna.
Bergs straight razors quickly became very popular and Berg was
soon able to showcase his products at several world expos,
including the 1883 Boston and 1893 Chicago World Fair. His
razors were awarded several times.
Early straight razors feature scales made of tortoise shell and
ivory, products not deemed too politically correct in our era.
In 1896 Berg published a sparsely illustrated trade catalogue
containing straight razors, but also introducing woodworking
tools on three pages. The catalogue included the following
Bevel edge chisels, straight edge chisels,
gouges, mortice chisels, lathe chisels
Plane irons, including American double irons
for metal planes, double irons for wooden planes, single
irons, toothing irons, block plane irons, scrub plane irons,
rabbet plane irons and a small variety of profiled irons.
This early catalogue includes only
one illustration of hand tools:
In this first edition there is no
mentioning of handles for the chisels. Nor can we certifiably
say what all the tools looked like and how they were stamped.