I feel sure that these tools were available slightly before 1873, but that is the first catalogue in which I can find them being for sale. At that time and for many years they were called ‘Carpet Strainers’ and the name only changed to ‘Stretchers’ c.1938. These tools were used to catch the edge of a carpet with the teeth and with a thump from the artisan’s knee [ouch!!] the carpet would be knudged slightly further toward the perimeter of the room where a fixed line of teeth, embedded in a wooden strip, would grab hold of the underside of the carpet. In this way a carpet could be stretched taut in a room, avoiding any ripples on the carpet surface. This tool would have been used more by professional carpet fitters rather than by Joe Public!
The 1873 listing is shown here:
At this stage it is not stated that the Tools came with a handle and of note is that the teeth are single primary teeth only, with no secondary teeth in between…see later.
Below is a #1153 with 8 teeth and a handle, c.1873.
The 1897 Catalogue shows some changes in that the item numbers have changed, that a ‘handled’ option is available and a cheaper ‘Japanned’ variety could be had instead of the Nickel plated items. By this time only the ‘Bent Socket’ variety was offered. Judging from the drawing, it appears as though by 1897 a set of secondary teeth now is interspersed with the primary teeth.:
Moving on to 1909 we see this:
In 1909 we see that the numbers have again been changed , a ‘jointed’ handle could be had for 3/6d extra each and that the illustration now does not show the ‘secondary’ teeth!! I put this down to incorrect artist’s interpretation!! It would appear that the tool was primarily available without the Mushroom top [Item #3916], so maybe it was intended to be used by shoulder power? The Mushroom top variety was also offered [Item #3917] but at 6 shillings more per dozen.
The 1921 catalogue shows this:
It appears that the #3918 Common Japanned stretcher is now not listed, nor is the option to have a jointed 2 piece handle. [It is a common theme that the 1921 Catalogue shows only a reduced list of tools that were available before the 1914-18 War.]
The 1928 listings are shown below:
And there you can see that the Jointed handle to the Mushroom topped #3917 has been reinstated as Item#3917.1/2 and the Common Japanned variety has re-appeared. The Mushroom top also appears to be larger.
The 1938 Catalogue entries are offered here:
It seems that Item#3917 automatically comes with a Mushroom handle and no other handle style is offered. This is also the first time that the prices quoted are ‘each‘.
The 1959 Catalogue shows that the 8 tooth stretcher is no longer listed:
Again here is another case of MARPLES using old pictures years after the product has been updated. Above shows a Mushroom head picture which appeared in 1921 but which was updated to the modern fuller form in 1928!! Maybe nobody was taking sufficient care of their catalogues at this time. I wonder how more ‘mistakes’ show up in this 1959 Catalogue?
The last listing thjat I can find for these tools is in the Price List of November 1963.
Here is an early #3915 unhandled stretcher showing 10 teeth and being 3.3/4″ across:
And here is a 3917.1/2 Jointed handle stretcher with 12 teeth and being 4.5/8″ across:
Below is a 10 teeth #3917: