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Scandinavian Hand Tools with Kim Malmberg


A Real Fish Story by Kim Malmberg

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Most woodworkers will recognize the tool maker Erik Anton Berg of Eskilstuna, Sweden. The Berg brand is well know across the globe.

Most people would also be able to recognize the Berg tools simply by their logo, an outlined shark.

Or, was it a fish? Actually, it was both.

No, it wasn't a genetic manipulation. It wasn't both at the same time. But when Erik Anton Berg started the company he chose a fish as the company logo, more specifically a Wels catfish, also known as sheatfish. The Latin name is Sirulus Glanis.

So if you happen to own both a really old Berg chisel or plane iron and a more recent Berg tool, you will be able to see the difference.

This is a 3/4 inch Berg gouge. The depiction is very crisp although the shark
seems to have bitten the head off the catfish. The stamps can be very poor
and although the mouth will be different, the tail end is really what you want to compare. The shark tail is sharply contoured whereas the catfish is dovetailed.

This is an old and very thick Berg cutter. The tail of the Wels catfish
is crisp and the mouth is clearly different.

I don't know why Berg decided to change the logo. Maybe it was because the customers mistook the fish for a shark. Or maybe it was a matter of marketing. "Shark-o-lite" does sound a lot better than "Wels catfishlike" or "Sharkowannabe".

Whatever the reason for the change, the difference in the logotype is quite obvious if you know about it. The old logotype clearly displays the characteristics of a catfish especially around the mouth, whereas the newer logotypes are very sharklike.

E A Berg won several gold medals at the World exhibition in Paris in 1900.
This chip breaker is commonly found on their old plane cutters.
This chip breaker is made after the Swedish spelling reform in 1903.
It says: "For the best treatment of Swedish steel". 
The shark has already eaten the catfish.

EA Berg died in 1903, only 47 years old. His five daughters took over the ownership, but the company was run by Gustaf Andersson from the year 1928 until he retired in 1959. At this time the company was very successful and nothing indicates that there would have been financial problems. But there was a wrenching twist to this successful fish tale.

The daughters felt they were not capable of managing the company so they decided to sell it. The buyer was found in Sweden and the name of the company was Bahco, derived from B. A. Hjorth & Co, as in the name of the founder.

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L. & I. J. White

Buck Bros


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