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Scandinavian Hand Tools with Kim Malmberg


 
 

The Plot Thickens – The Berg Hand Tools Revisited

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I 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 early.

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 products:

  • Bevel edge chisels, straight edge chisels, gouges, mortice chisels, lathe chisels

  • Carpenters’ knives

  • 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.


 
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