Hammer of the Week – 2014

11 Nov.,2022


when was the claw hammer invented

In 1903, Charles Kennedy invented this hammer to fix those problems. This magnetic tack hammer is pre-loaded, so the user can turn the hammer downward, push the lever, and automatically load a tack onto the head. It works, in fact, quite a bit like the popular candy dispenser—though the objects it dispenses aren’t very tasty.

The tacks they would use were labeled “sterilized”. Why? Truly talented carpenters would hold tacks in their mouths—sometimes three different sizes at a time—and spit them onto the hammerhead. But swinging a hammer up towards your mouth poses an obvious risk to your teeth…not to mention that swallowing a tack would be a dangerous and painful experience.

Tacks are too small to hold and hit with a hammer, so the innovation of the magnetic hammer head in the 1880s was important. It allowed carpenters and upholsterers to pick up tiny tacks and whack them directly into surfaces without smashing their fingers.

What do PEZ dispensers and hammers have in common?

Elizabeth Arden had a line of skin care products based on these techniques, but our soft rubber patter was a part of the Dorothy Gray skin care line. The 10-step patting process instructed women to also use Dorothy Gray’s Cleansing Cream, Cleansing Tissues, Orange Flower Skin Lotion, and Astringent Cream for best effect.

The facial patter was designed for the “operators [to] rhythmically pat the throat and the facial contour” in order to stimulate the facial muscles and counteract wrinkles, the dreaded double chin and “crêpy throat.”

Perhaps more accurately, it was designed for women to hit their own faces. The facial patter was originally patented in 1926 by Henry George Volckening of Brooklyn, NY. He also produced patents for a powder puff and a brush stand. Improvements for the patter design were patented in 1931 by Jacob Knapp who was, notably, also a man.

This hammer was designed for hitting your face. No, seriously.

In order to advertise their shoes, the company decided to expand their manufacturing process to include hammers made from ball bearings.

One of the features often advertised for these shoes was their Pratt Lace Fasteners, which held the laces without tying them – perhaps the precursor to Velcro?

A guide for Skagway’s Chilkoot Trail from the 1900s suggested that women wear these shoes while hiking back and forth across the 33-mile pass. The women’s shoes were heeled, and they had to hike in dresses. Gold Rush era ladies were probably tougher than the men.

Because women’s shoes tended to go up to the knee and required more cloth, they were more expensive. Men’s shoes were $3.00 for black, $3.50 for tan, while women’s shoes ranged from $4.50 to $8.00.

Located on Market and Quincy Sts. in Chicago, C.H. Fargo & Co developed a line of shoes, eventually marketing over 100 styles of “Men’s, Boys’, Ladies’, and Misses’ Bicycle and Athletic Footwear.” The company’s reason for the use and copyright of the “Ball-Bearing” name was that: “The shoes are so constructed as to give the ball of the foot the greatest ease and freedom for action.”

We have many types of advertising hammers in our museum, but perhaps one of the strangest is the C.H. Fargo & Company’s “Ball-Bearing” Bicycle Shoes hammer.

After the Fall of the Roman Empire, the site was forgotten until its rediscovery in 1822. However, it remains extremely difficult to get to and is typically visited by archaeologists only once a decade.

Royal porphyry was first discovered in 14 CE and was controlled exclusively by the emperors due to its deep purple color. Even the smallest pieces of this rare rock were used to demonstrate opulence, although the Romans quarried huge pieces of this stone. In fact, the Pantheon featured 60-foot columns, each weighing 207 tons, carved entirely from porphyry! Although by this time the Romans were using iron tools, dolerite balls like the one exhibited here were still used for more brute smashing work.

This dolerite hammer comes from the Roman quarries of Mons Porphyrites, in the Eastern Sahara, Egypt. It is the only source of royal porphyry in the world and is one of the hardest places to get to in the world even today!

Although it’s not commonly used anymore, bluing solution is added to laundry in order to make whites whiter. It was originally sold in liquid form, but E.W. Gillett’s patent was intended as a unique way to package solid bluing tablets. In his patent application, he noted that, “it is customary to form the handles of a great variety of implements–such, for example, as ice-picks, stove-lid lifters, tack-hammers…and many small tools-with hollow reticulated or open-work handles, usually-made of cast metal.” The bluing tablets were sold inside the open handle. Because the packaging likely cost three times as much as the product, these hammers weren’t around for very long–but our museum has two of them!

Originally patented in the United States on April 25th, 1882, then in Canada on May 23rd of the same year, this hammer was designed to hold laundry bluing tablets. Egbert W. Gillett (no relation to the razor company), who started a manufacturing business in Chicago and later expanded into Canada, was the inventor.

June 23-27: Double Claw Hammer

We skipped the HOTW last week to bring you a twofer this time: the double claw hammer. Patented by George F. Voight of San Francisco in 1902, the double claw hammer was designed to pull out nails of different lengths without bending the nail. The Double Claw Hammer Company was so convinced that their invention would be successful that they wrote a poem to accompany each sale of the hammer.

The Hammer with the Double Claws
Of merits it is full
It draws attention and draws nails
The Hammer with a pull

One need not hammer in his head
This truth–that it’s all right,
The double grip that cannot slip
Pulls with a double might.

To use it is a hammerfest,
As oft you hear it said,
For it drives nails and business
And hits nails on the head.

While others give the jarring lick
That loses half its force,
The Double Claw, it does the trick
And sends nails home, of course.

If you observe the Sectional View
You’ll see it’s firmly set;
It can’t fly off the handle–you
Won’t either–you can bet.

It comes to fill a long old want
And nothing is so slick,
It is indeed a drawing card
And lightning on its trick.

This Hammer’s balanced to a T,
That’s why it is so prized;
The head will hit the nail, you see,
With blow that’s centralized.

It is the Handiest Hammer yet
And satisfies the boss
It goes on its good shape, you see,
And on its Double Claws

The old time hammer you have used
And spoiled nails with its claws,
But then you well can be excused–
It was the best that was!

The hammer by a blacksmith wrought
And often whopperjaw*,
That worked no better than it ought
To either drive or draw.

The Double Claw pulls straight and out,
Does double work because
It is Perfection, past all doubt,
And has the Double Jaws.

It tells the nails to come or die,
And they’ve no time to wait;
This Hammer does no crooked work–
It yanks the nail out straight.

You drive a nail that’s out of reach,
High up or far across,
Beyond your utmost two-hand stretch,
If fixed in these Two-Claws.

You see, it is a reaching thing
That surely has a cinch
Because this Hammer’s Double Claws
Provide the needed clinch.

The Double Claw is wrought of Steel
And made to stand all brunt;
It is the Hammer that’s ideal
And always at the front.

The Hammer with the Double Jaws
It’s worth its cost and more;
Made right up to Pure Hammer Laws
Which were not known before.

In Hardware stores it has the call
And all men know the cause–
It is the Hammer of the age
And has the Double Claws.

*Whopperjaw (adj.): Not straight, askew, crooked

Now how’s that for marketing?