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J & R Dodge 108

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Robert F.

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I am new. I have a question I hope someone has an answer. I have a carving gouge. It is marked J & R Dodge over Sheffield. I have found a little about this company, but not much. One thing I find odd is this tool is marked on the top side with 108. I have never seen a tool similarly marked. What is that number? I am guessing that the 10 is for 10
mm width of the cutting edge and the 8 (should be 9) is the sweep. The number is 108 not 10-8 or even 10 8. Any thoughts on J & R Dodge tools? Thanks.
Robert F.
 

Argus

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As an indication of the company, Simon Barley’s ‘British Sawmakers’ lists a company called Joshua and Robert Dodge Ltd as trading between 1876 – 1884 at Continental Works, Sheffield. They were taken over by another company, so that gives you an idea of the date. They were traders and manufacturers in cutlery and tools.

It is unlikely that the width (3/8 inch?) is in millimetres at that date. We didn't use metric at all in those days and the Sheffield List of gouge sweeps tried to standardise some form of sweep progression, even though it was early days for the list. But is not definitive when it came to hand forged tools and there tended to be some variance across the market. According to the Sheffield List, however, a No: 9 sweep is the extremity of standard sweeps and is in fact a semi-circle, so that part should be easy to check. After No: 9, sweeps develop a raised side, a 'U' shape and referred to as 'Veiners'.

Hope that this helps a little, but I’m afraid that the ‘108 part remains a mystery. Perhaps it was an owner's inventory mark?
Is it usable?
 
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Robert F.

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As an indication of the company, Simon Barley’s ‘British Sawmakers’ lists a company called Joshua and Robert Dodge Ltd as trading between 1876 – 1884 at Continental Works, Sheffield. They were taken over by another company, so that gives you an idea of the date. They were traders and manufacturers in cutlery and tools.

It is unlikely that the width (3/8 inch?) is in millimetres at that date. We didn't use metric at all in those days and the Sheffield List of gouge sweeps tried to standardise some form of sweep progression, even though it was early days for the list. But is not definitive when it came to hand forged tools and there tended to be some variance across the market. According to the Sheffield List, however, a No: 9 sweep is the extremity of standard sweeps and is in fact a semi-circle, so that part should be easy to check. After No: 9, sweeps develop a raised side, a 'U' shape and referred to as 'Veiners'.

Hope that this helps a little, but I’m afraid that the ‘108 part remains a mystery. Perhaps it was an owner's inventory mark?
Is it usable?

Thanks for your quick reply. I have found other J & R Dodge gouges for sale on line and they too have a 3 digit number, though as different tool different number. My gouge seems to be a fairly decent tooL and is a semi circle #9.
It seems odd that this number, if it is an inventory number, would be so prominently displayed on the top edge near the handle, with the company name less conspicuously marked on the bottom side equally near the handle. Ah, what would life be without its little mysteries.
1600525927894.jpeg


Have a good day. May you enter autumn with a spirit of curiosity. It keeps us alive.
1600525752064.jpeg
 

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Argus

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A little more idle noodling around came up with this site of German origin:


It seems that they were factors and may not, according to this, have been the manufacturers. There's a Dutch connection.............
I must say that, as an occasional carver, I've never come across any of their carving tools which may well have been aimed at the export market.
 

Cheshirechappie

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I have no idea whether or not this is significant; it's just an observation.

Those stamp marks are unusually clear and distinct for mid-19th century Sheffield marks, most of which tend to be incised a bit deeper at one end than the other, possibly because they were applied by the smith holding the stamp against the work and striking it with a hammer, rather than the mark being set in a press and either struck to the work or pressed on mechanically. It's not impossible that marking presses were used at that time, but the bulk of evidence of other marks on similar tools suggest they were not common.

Most Sheffield marks of that date tended to have letters with serifs. Sans serif lettering is usually associated with early to mid 20th century marks, when things were being 'simplified', perhaps under post WW1 economic pressure.

So, a tad unusual on two counts. Like I say, may or may not be significant.
 

AndyT

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Well, that suggestion fits with Argus's finding that the trademark was still somebody's property in the 1970s.

Could we see a few photos of the whole tool, please?
 

Argus

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Robert,

That's a handsome little chisel. From the photo, there seems to be a generous inside bevel and unless I'm mistaken, the 'ears' have been very slightly declined.... prevents the sides of the gouge splitting the stock as it descends.

Going back to your original idea about 10mm being the width, if the other gouges' widths that you mentioned are close to their metric width and with the Belgian connection mentioned in the German site in mind, the number may refer to the width/sweep.... who knows?

All best from wild Wales
 

Cheshirechappie

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I agree - that looks a well-made and capable tool in the Sheffield tradition, though the handle is not one of the more usual Sheffield patterns. That may not be too significant; many carvers preferred their kit to have a variety of different handles, making it easier to identify the tool needed next from a selection set out on the bench.

Sheffield has a long tradition of independent workers alongside the big firms, and because of them it was possible to be a manufacturer with little more than a front room in your house to store your stock, and a name stamp. You bought your stock steel from one of many stockholders, took it to an independent hammerman, then took the forgings to a grinder, then a hardener, then back to the grinder for finishing, and finally to an edge tool cutler for handle fitting. Ashley Iles, at least in part, started his business in this way just after WW2, meeting some interesting characters along the way.

Thus, I make the tentative suggestion that at some time in the mid 20th century, someone in Sheffield used the J&R Dodge mark to start making a range of tools, perhaps in conjunction with continental merchants as Argus's search results suggest. Perhaps that was just after WW2, when so much was disrupted across Europe, but reconstruction was getting under way. The rarity of such tools suggest the enterprise was not a commercial success, but the evidence of the OP's photographs suggest the tools are of a high standard.

I don't really know, though. Perhaps, some day, better information will come to light.
 

Robert F.

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I just found another odd number on another one of my tools. I have a Mifer (Spanish I believe) 7/8” #4 gouge. It is a nice older gouge. The odd thing is that on the back near the handle is 73. On the top side is the name Milfer in an oval. The mystery deepens.
 

AndyT

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Maybe there was a mainland Europe equivalent to the Sheffield numbering system?
 

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