During a rust-hunting expedition last summer, I picked up six saws and a miterbox. I didn’t really “need” it because I already had two sitting on shelves at home. Still, this one had all the earmarks of an industrial-age tool—definitely the early part of the 20th century.
It spoke to me.
I could hear the whispers of craftsmen, shadows of an age long since passed, calling to me. I could feel them working grueling 14-hour days to eke out an existence in depression-era America. I was in a trance. The only thing I liked more than the history oozing from its patinaed steel was the $7.00 price tag. “You’re coming with me,” I muttered.
Once I had it home, I took a closer look.
A brand new 20th-century manufacturer…to me at least.
When I first inspected the box, I couldn’t discern its pedigree. But after some initial rust removal, a maker’s mark emerged.
Goodell Manufacturing Co. Hmm. I’ve heard of Goodell-Pratt, but what’s this other company?
From what little I could glean from online sources, Goodell Manufacturing Co. was established in 1902 by Henry Goodell along with his son-in-law, Perley Fay. The humble affair manufactured miter boxes and drill chucks in a quaint one-building factory.
After Goodell’s death in 1923, William Pratt, the president of Goodell-Pratt, assumed the presidency of Goodell Manufacturing Co. Seven years later, the company passed into history with its acquisition by Goodell-Pratt in 1930.
Dating my miterbox
The front saw guide has an inscription “PATD. FEB. 9, 1904.” That tells me this specimen rolled out off the assembly line at least two years after the company was formed.
However, the 1904 patent illustrates sliding bar grooves that have flat bottoms.
My miterbox, by contrast, features a V-shaped sliding bar groove.
That’s consistent with Patent, 1,517,706 originally filed, January 27, 1923. So I would date my box to between 1922-1930.
Having determined its age, I turned my attention to making it a good user. So given the rusty, grungy condition of it, I decided to restore it.
And that is the topic of the next post.