Tack Claws


[These tools are also dealt with briefly under ‘Upholsterers’ Tools].

These tools, used to remove Tacks or small nails are first to found in the 1897 Catalogue, and probably were introduced before this time:

The 1909 Catalogue shows these entries:

As you can see this is a mirror image reversal of the 1897 Catalogue entry but with a newly assigned number, see also below showing 3 options of this tool:

These tools are not mentioned in the 1921 Catalogue, probably having still been dropped from the line due to financial constraints resulting from fighting the Germans. But the 1921 Catalogue does indicate that a full list of Upholstery tools may be had on application, indicating that the Catalogue was not a complete list.
They are re-introduced by the time the 1928 Catalogue was published but it looks as though old #3947 has been now numbered #3541 and old #3949 becomes new number #3546 and the Rosewood variety has been de-listed.:

The listing in 1938 follows and shows that #3542 with an Ash handle is a new addition, that a short Beech Ball handled variety #3543 is in production but that the Strong Pattern #3546 has been dropped from the line:

We have to wait until 1959 to see the next catalogue entry showing that the   Ash handled #3542 is no longer present:

In the 1965 Catalogue only the #3541 is mentioned and showing a Brown painted cap to the now Ash handle:

This #3541 continued through to August 1973 when it is shown in the M2 MARPLES Catalogue having a ‘Hardwood‘ handle:

By July 1979 there is no mention that this tool was available, but suddenly in May 1985 a ‘New Item’ was introduced…M180 Tack Lifter costing £3.16.          I can find no pictures of this item and surmise that it may well have been a plastic handled tool, as was common at that time. But by August 1987 even this M180 is no longer listed although having been still shown available in March 1986 .
This #3541 shown below is probably from early 1960s?





Carpet Stretchers


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:


Stay Sharp


This was a short lived tool introduced c.1988 and not listed in May 1991.
It was offered in two lengths..70mm and 100mm and was like a mini knife sharpener!
The ‘steel’ was housed within the plastic body being reversed for use, and the unit was provided with a pocket clip.



Pinking Shears

Below you will find a great set of ‘Pinking Shears‘, used by Tailors.  The only reference I can find to this product is in the 1959 Main Catlogue as Item# 9960.  However there is an Item# 9960 in the 1909 Catalogue that indicates ‘American-Pattern Tailors’ Shears‘, but these may not be pinking shears.         [‘Pinking’ denotes the cutting of a saw tooth cut in cloth].

Wing Compasses

A subject not yet finished  March 2023

Best Lancashire Black Wing Compass.  This Compass started life prior to 1862, when it had no number, but was available in 5″-12″ lengths. In 1877 it was ascribed the number 1064. and by 1897, under Item # 1234 it was available from 4″ to 12″ and similarly in a ‘Bright‘ version #1233.  By 1903 the number had changed to #6460 and the ‘Bright‘ version as #6462. but now in lengths 5″-12″.  The 1909 Catalogue shows the same listings. The 1921 shows the same listing of #6460, but no ‘Bright‘ option is mentioned. The 1928 and 1938 Catalogues show exactly the same listings as in 1921.

In the 1959 Catalogue is shown an expanded range of 5,6,7,8,9,10,12,14,16,and 18″. And this is the photo shown below.

By 1965 the range was reduced to just 6,7,8,10 and 12″.  By 1971 there is shown a re-design of the Compass, but only now listed with 8″ and 10″ sizes. Photo below. Note the change in the securing of the Wing.

1959 Catalogue Image.

Below are a couple of images of a 6″ Best Lancashire Wing Compass, obviously prior to 1971.

The Diamond motif on the Wingbolt denotes after 1945


Combination Tool

This tool is a real rough and ready tool for almost any function!

Item #3620 is listed as a Combination Tool under Case Openers and first found in the 1928 Catalogue, and this tool [below] was indeed as described, having a hammer, hatchet, nail extractor and Case opener.   Listed  in 1928 at 4/6d each, in 1938 they were 5/- each. In the 1959 Catalogue it is no longer shown as having rivetted wooden handles, but only as a shrink wrapped vinyl over steel handle [uncomfortable to be sure] and at 13/- ea.  The last listing I can find is in the April 1962 Price List at 14/3d each.  

Above is the 1959 offering with a photo below:   Many times this tool will be found without the handle covering and I doubt that this was ever issued as such[below]:

Below is a pre-1959 example with wood applied and rivetted handles, it has had a tough life!:


Stripping Knives

A new subject that may have additional works to update it. March 2023

MARPLES Stripping knives seem to have been introduced c.1890 and they appear in the 1897 Catalogue as Item # 1729A and are described as ‘Painters Ebony handled chisel knives, with Brass ferrules’.

Sizes were [width] 2.1/2″; 3″; 3.1/2″; and 4″.

In the 1903 Catalogue they are described as ‘Painter’s Ebony handled Chisel Knives, Brass ferruled. Same widths as 1897 but with a new number #6653.
In 1909 these widths of #6653 were available:  5 x 2″; 5 x 2.1/2″; 5.1/2 x 3″; 6 x 3.1/2″ and 6 x 4″.

The 1921 and 1928 Catalogue entries are the same and also the same widths as in 1909 are offered.
The 1938 Catalogue entries show the same sizes, but there was a price decrease on all sizes!!

By 1959 the following sizes of #6653 are offered:  1″; 1.1/2″; 2″; 2.1/2″; 3″; 3.1/2″; 4″ and 5″.  The big difference from pre-war is the fact that now the handles are only in Rosewood

2 inch example shown below:

1965 shows the following entry:

These #6653 tools are listed in the 1971 Addendum, but I can find no further listings:

You will have noted that there are only minor differences between ‘filling’ and ‘stripping’ knives.
‘Filling knives’ are ground to have a thinner, more flexible  blade. Whereas ‘Stripping Knives’ need to have more substance in the blade strength and are therefore ground slightly thicker. This can be hard to discern.                                       





A page that is far from complete and will be added too as time permits.  March 2023

Below is another real old one, ‘Single Bar Coach Wrench#093  that is seen in the 1861/2 Catalogue. 6″-18″.  These lengths endured for the whole date range of production. In 1921 the #093 is not listed in favour of an ‘Improved Steel Bar Coach Wrench’ with a single bar #091, but for some reason this product failed the test of time and #093 re-appears in 1928 but re-numbered to #3413 . It does not appear to be listed in 1938 or later.

The 1909 image, above,  also shows the Double Bar Wrench

The Adjustable wrench below is listed  [first that I can see] in 1888 as a ‘Gem’ Bicycle wrench #1180A  I think that it was introduced even before that time as my example shows the single Shamrock emblem which should have ceased being used after 1875!!

It is hard to decide exactly which wrench is which given that the 1897 catalogue shows this:

In 1909 the ‘Gem’ Bicycle wrench is listed as #3450 at 10/-/doz and Malleable iron.

Nothing is listed in the 1921 Catalogue [post war], but #3419King Dick‘ Cycle wrench is found in the 1928 Catalogue:

and in 1938:

This wrench is still to be found in 1959 in the same sizes but does not appear in the 1965 Catalogue. The last listing I can find is in the Price List of April 1962, but not in PL March 1964.    It was therefore dropped from the line around 1963, just about when C&J Hampton took over the reins of MARPLES and cut so many of the items from production. Goodbye Quality.





Another site that is far from complete and to which additional information will be added.  March 202

Below is shown Item# 5010Black Steel Pipe Grips‘ available 1909 -1959+. Not listed in 1965.  In 1959 they are called ‘Footprint Pipe Grips‘. Always available in sizes from 6″ to 16″ and having jaws that could be adjusted in depth by moving the  holding bolt through 3 different holes in the sliding jaws.  The same image was used throughout the 5o+ years of its’ existence!




This page is under construction and needs many more additions.  March 202

Below is shown the ‘Clyburn’s Spanner‘, one that has been with us a long time.  It is listed in 1861/2 Catalogue [where it is unusually numbered 020] under ‘Moveable Spanners’ and offered 4″-30″ in lengths capable of accepting  3/8″ -3″ nuts.  In 1873 it has #1010.  In 1897 it is #1181. In 1909 it is re-numbered back to #020 in sizes 4″-30″, but now accepting  1/2″-3″ nuts.  Also in 1909 it appears as a straight handle variety #021.   1921 sees the spanner only offered 6″-30″, with no straight handle option [post war shrinkage].  In 1928 it is again re-numbered to #3420 and again 4″-30″, but now 5/8″ -3″ nuts are accepted.  The straight handle appears again #3421.  The line is again reduced to 6″-30″ in 1938.  Post war in 1959 it still has the same configuration as pre-war but with no straight handle offered.  It was de-listed entirely before 1965.

Above is as it  appears in 1938.