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1869 Franz Freiherr von Wertheim Catalog - Now Online  


In the summer of 2010 I wrote about taking a short vacation and seeing the absolutely gorgeous 1869 Franz Wertheim tool catalog that had been acquired by Princeton University. You can read about that trip and the catalog here.

The real exciting news is that I just got an email from the library saying the catalog has been digitized and is now available for all to see here.

This Wertheim catalog is probably the nicest, most complete 19th century tool catalog available on-line. The source material is in great shape, scans are great and the software allows you to zoom in to see details.

In the catalog you will find lots of tools that aren't well know in the US or UK, partially because tool usage has changed and partially because European tools are different in some areas than English tools.

Thanks to emails from Wolfgang Jordan I found out that this wasn't the only version of this catalog to survive, German editions are known in several private collections. Wolfgang also mentioned to me that the actual exhibition with the tools, which was considered fabulous at the time, ended up in the South Kensington Science Museum. I made some inquiries and found that the display was split up and most of the parts deaccessioned and sold of in the 20th century. The museum still has some section of a few remaining panels which occasionally are on display.

The catalog is also one of the very few from the time with color plates and seeing it on line like this is a boon for tool collectors, historians, and users everywhere.

Here is the link again. There are two volumes. Volume 1 is the text in French, Volume 2 are the illustrations.
Thank you and a job Very Well Done Princeton University!!!!
Tags:Historical Subjects
Comments: 5
12/20/2011Tom Fidgen
Joel, once again an amazing resource!
Thanks for sharing this-;)
It's funny, just when you think you've come up with a new idea eh? 16 Fig. 117. The saw/plane.I wonder what they used it for? I made something that looks very similar I've been calling a 'kerfing plane.' I use it for establishing a kerf when sawing veneers. Any ideas what this tool is/was known as and what it was used for? Glorified stair saw? I doubt it. Maybe a kerfing tool?
Thanks again for the link.
12/20/2011Daniel Burgoyne 
Wonderful, merveilleux! Thanks! It is a joy to read.
12/21/2011Andrew Volk 
It might be my browser or something, but when I open the picture on that website, the screen jumps up and down and cannot be stopped (nor any other tab opened) until the process controlling the bad screen is killed. I'm bummed since I wanted to look more into the catalog.
12/21/2011Andrew Adams 
Why is my French-English dictionary always inaccessable when I need it?

This is a very cool find!

This is a well thought out catalog. If something in the illustrations is a bit confusing, the "vues geometriques" will help sort it out. Presumably the text helps as well. I'm afraid my french comprehension isn't up to following all the detail.

Tom Fidgeon's kerfing plane is a fixed fence rabbeting saw. I've seen illustrations of such saws with a fence like on a moving fillister plane. The saw blade is slotted to adjust the depth of cut.

Figure 117 is named "La scie pour rainures" in the text. This would translate as grooving saw. It has two parallel blades with adjustable spacing, an adjustable fence, and an adjustable depth stop. So this isn't Tom's kerfing plane. But how was it to be used and what was its advantage over other tools in this application? Was it supposed to be used with a chisel and a router plane instead of using a plough?

Je ne sais pas.

Thank you Joel for the link and its attendant puzzles.

Andrew Adams
12/22/2011Tom Fidgen
Andrew, thanks for the translation- a grooving saw! That makes sense. I now see the two blades and I would imagine this would be very useful for inlay work etc...
Merci beaucoup!?! ; 0

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