Index of European drill manufactures to and including 1800.

The following list is a work in progress to help identify makers and merchants names stamped on drill bits. The bits are generally the following type: Center bits, Spoon bits, Shell bits, Nose bits, etc. There were many early manufacturers that included edge tools in their range of products and only some of those made augers or drill bits.

Many bits were also blacksmith made and un-marked. These tend to be more rudimental in finish.

The names included in this compendium are those that have been found on drill bits.

Augers with square and round shanks were sometimes advertised and sold, “for welding”, that is, sold without the tang so the user could fashion any length of bit and tang he wanted.

I have included the archaic spelling of Gimlets taken from original trade listings (Gimblets).

Many edge tool makers and those that also manufactured bits also made skates (ice Skates) and skates were often included in their list of products.
“As skating popularity grew across Europe, royal toolmaker John Wilson was commissioned to make a pair of figure skating blades for King William III in 1696. The Sheffield engineer was famed throughout England for the quality of his tools, his crafting skills and his unparalleled reputation for excellence. The royal seal of approval ensured that John Wilson’s business continued to bloom, while the strong connection to British royalty carried on and inspired Queen Victoria to commission a pair of skates for herself and Prince Albert in the 1840’s.”

Great Britain
Abbey. London

Allan, Arthur. Glasgow. Edge tool makers.

Anderson, R. J. Seacombe, England. (R.J.Anderson, Seacombe, ENG) on the bit.

Arthur, David. St. Pauls Work, Edinburgh. (1804?- ) His business was at Leith in the 1820s.

Ash, William & Co. Norfolk Lane, Sheffield. (1825- )

Baker, John. Monmouth Works, Harmer Lane, Sheffield. (1837-1972 ) Edge tools and joiner tools.

Baker, William. London. William Baker appeared in the 1881 UK census, listed as a tool maker born c. 1837, in London.

Bee, James. ( listed in the Sheffield Directory in 1814.) ( See Henry Brown “Sole manufacturers of James Bee’s Tools”)

Bradbury & Taylor. Furnival Street, Sheffield in 1825 (Edge tools and gimblet manufacturers)

Brown,Henry. (Brown & Sons) Western Works, Rockingham Street, Sheffield. Manufactured joiners tools as well as augers, gimlets, braces and bits.

Brown, J. S. ?

Brown, T.

Buck, Joseph. Newgate Street and Waterloo Road, London. Edge tool makers. (Also possibly after the family moved to the USA.

Burley, Bennet, B. Also appears to have retailed tools. “Burley, Bennet B. manufacturer of planes, mechanical, engineering, and edge tools, importer of American and Continental tools and hardware, 9 Watson Street, off Gallowgate then Barrowfield Tool Works, Glasgow. (see also Robert Heys)

Burkinshaw, John & Sons. Described himself as a brace bit manufacturer. Later possibly partnered Samuel Smith in Smith & Burkinshaw, Broomhall Works, Broomhall Street, Sheffield which ended in 1880. From then on John Burkinshaw & Sons advertised as a maker of braces, bits and borers.

Carter, Charles. Industry Works,Olivant Road, Sheffield. Listed as a manufacturer of scotch,carpenters and ship augersbesides screw bits (1861-1890s)

Carr, John & Riley. Bailey Lane Works, Sheffield. Edge tool makers. (1810- )

Chapman, J. A. Industry Tool Works, Woodside Lane, Sheffield. (extremely rare bits)

Colquhoun & Cadman. Douglas Works, Arundel Street, Sheffield. (1881-1980) Edge and Joiners tools.

Craven, P. Whetly Grove, Manningham, Bradford.

Duro. Has (DURO SHEFFIELD) on the bit…….? (Duro Metal Products was an American company Est. 1917 in Chicago)

Eadon, Moses. President Works, Saville Street, Sheffield. Also various other locations. Manufacturer of spiral cutters etc. (1823-1918 )

Ellin, Thomas. Footprint Works, Sheffield. (1866-

Fellows, William. 54 Campo Lane, Sheffield. Auger, brace and bit maker. (1846- )

Fenton & Marsden. Bridge Street Works, Sheffield. (1852-1895) Manufactured braces and bits.

Flather, David. Solly Works, Solly Street, Sheffield. Manufactured joiners tools. At some point the partnership of Brown and Flather was formed at the Solly Street address. In 1850 The partnership between Henry Brown and David Flather expired. (1817-1902)

Foreign. Possibly made in Germany for export. “C.K.” (Carl Kammerling) a German Company, marked their bits with “Foreign”.

Galloway, D & ….. Edinburgh. (Possibly Thomson & Co., Albert Engine Works, Leith) 1880

Garrick & Craig. Glasgow. Tool maker.

Gardner, Thomas. J. No. 6 Pithay 1880-1889. Narrow Vine St. 1899-1939. Manufactured woodworking tools. They had their own foundry and engineering works for a short period.

Gilpin, William. Churchbridge Works and Wedges Mills, Cannock, North Birmingham. (1834-1946)

Greaves, Isaac. Park Works, Broad Street Lane Sheffield. (1825 to early 1900’s)

Hale, John Thomas. Hale Bros Ltd. of Moorfield Works, Sheffield. (1842- )

Harrison, John & Sons. Unstone Mills, Dronfield. (1865- ) (Manufacturers of edge tools).

Haywood, Thomas. 51 Coalpit Lane, in 1833. (Rockingham Lane?) (Edge tool & auger manufacturer)

Hawksworth, Henry. 31 Earl Street, Sheffield. Manufacturer of tools, braces, bits etc. ( H. H.) stamped on bits

Henderson. (possibly James Henderson) Glasgow.

Herring, John. (& Sons) Navigation Works, Broad Street, Sheffield.

Heys, Robert. Glasgow? (Mackay, Burley & Heys) (1875- ) They are listed as ironmongers, as well as plane and edge tool makers. Peter Mackay was no longer associated with the firm by 1879, and the firm’s name was changed to Burley & Heys in 1880.

Holmes, John. (Holmes & Sons) Prospect Place Works, Castle Hill, Norwich. (1827-1907)

Howarth, James. Broomspring Works, Sheffield. Manufactured edge tools and joiners tools (1835- )

Hill. (Sherpherd, Hill & Co.) Leeds, England. In 1844 John Shepherd (1816-1902) went into business on his own account, presumably as Shepherd, Wilkinson, and Co.

Ibbetson, Thomas. Paternoster Row, Charles Street, Sheffield. Edge tool manufacturer. (1825-1905)

Jameson ?

J. T. B. N. (Letters are encased in a square.) unknown…

Johnson, C. Western Works, Sheffield? ((1836- )

Jinkinson, Amos. Cadoghan Works, Eldon Street, Sheffield. manufacturers of augers, gimblets , braces, bits & joiners tools. Kaye & Sons. Patent Lock Works, Leeds. (1884-1959) The Trademark was “Cardigan”

Kaye & Sons. Patent Lock Works, Leeds. (1884-1959

Kirk, Peter. 150 Pond Street, Sheffield. Manufacturers of patent augers, brace bits,edge tools etc. (1839- )

Lewis & Co. Sheffield

Marples, Joseph. Hibernia Works, Sheffield. (1840’s- )

Marples, Robert. Hermitage Works, Hermitage Street, Sheffield. “Trade-mark, Hermit,” showing a hermit within a circle. (1828- )

Marsden Brothers. Trafalgar Street, Sheffield. (1696-1895)

Marshall. Glasgow

Mathieson, Alex. Saracen Tool Works, Glasgow. Manufacturers of planes, mechanical, engineering and edge-tools. (1821-1953)

Maw, Kirjart & Staley, William. Rockingham Street, Sheffield. (1825-1833)

Mawhood, John Parkinson. Palm Tree Works, Sheffield. Mawhood Bros. Edge tool manufacturers. (1863-1978)

Mottram, Thomas. Eyre Lane, Sheffield, England. (1825-1846) Merchant and manufacturer of edge tools.

Moulson, Joseph & John. Union Works, Division Street, Sheffield. Manufacturers of saws, edge tools and joiners tools. (1830’s-1875)

Morrison, J. E. Granville Works, Tenter Street, Sheffield. Auger and auger bits for hand and brace bits. (1850- )

Mutter, George. London. Around 1780s

Osborn, Samual. Clyde Works, Broad Lane and Brookhill Works, Sheffield. (1851-1874)

Parkin, Charles & Son. Carver Street Works, West Street Lane, Sheffield. Braces and cast steel bits.

Popple, W. George. Sheffield (1879-1922)

Preston, Edward. The Whittall Works, Birmingham. Manufacturer of woodworking tools. (1825-1905?)

Pearson, F. G. Hope Works, Sheffield. Joiners tools, augers, files, gimlets etc. (1854- )

Round, Eliz. 103 Allen Street, Sheffield. (1837- )

Pit, Robert. Burntisland, Fife, Scotland

Ridge, Alfred. “Alfrid “ Alfred Ridge & Sons is established suppliers of wood boring tools to the Royal Navy. The company in 1875 changed to the FOOTPRINT brand.

Ridge, William. (also George) Sheffield Lane, Ecclefield. (near Sheffield) also in Carver Lane, Sheffield.
gimlets,braces, bits and augers.

Ridgway, William. Oscar Works,Edward Street, Sheffield. (1878- until merger with Hampton/Marples/Record)

Rudiforth, Alfred. 12 Bailey Street, 50 Rockingham Street. (Auger & Edge Tool Mfr.).

Sanderson, William. 88 Pea croft, Sheffield. Brace bit and auger maker. (1832- )

Sorby, John. Spittal Hill, Sheffield. Edge tool manufacturer. (1854-1887)

Sorby, I. (See Addendum below)

Straw, W. & Co.

Skelton, C. T. Sheafbank Works, Sheffield. (1855-1962)

Slater, George. 22 Hollis Croft, Sheffield. Brace, bit, joiners tool and auger manufacturer.

Shearer, A. E. Broomhall Street, Sheffield. It’s principle product was sheep shearing equipment but it also made auger bits. Although predecessor firms under the Shearer name operated in Sheffield from the 1860’s, A.E. Shearer itself did business from the 1920’s through the 1950’s.

Saville, Charles. 16 Rockingham Lane & 6 South Street, in 1833.

Stones, Frederick. Albion Works, Arundel Lane/Broomhill, Sheffield in 1837. Manufacturer and Merchant. (1817- )

Smith. (Smith & Sons) My example has J. Andersons patent, Seacombe, England

Timmins, R & Sons. Hurst Street, Birmingham. (1790- ) Manufacturer of Braces and bits etc…

The Billy Unknown (also found on hand drills)

Turner, Thomas. Suffolk Works, Sheffield. Manufactured saws, files and edge tools (1802- )

Taylor, Charles. 47 Eyre Lane, Sheffield. Edge tool maker. Working dates thought to be (1905-1911)

Thomson, H. Broomhall Works, Broomhall Street, Sheffield. An edge tool manufacturer. (1871- )

Timperley, Walter. Prospect Works, Prospect Road, Heely. Auger & edge tool manufacturer.

Tyzac, Joseph & Son. Meersbrook Works, Sheffield (1781-1858) Their name is found “wraparound” on the shank of the bit.

Wilson, H. Newcastle?

Wilson, John. In 1895 John Wilson purchased the business of Marsden Brothers. 1898 H. J. and R. Haynes bought the combined businesses of John Wilson and Marsden Brothers and Co. Manufacturers of skates, edge tools, saws.

Ward & Payne. (W.P.) Wards Works, Westr Street, Sheffield. Edge tools, carving tools… (1803- )

Wilkinson, S. William. Burley Works, Metcalf Street, Leeds. Machine and Tool Maker. (1870 Directory of Leeds)

Ward, W. H. Victoria Works, Eccleshall Road, Sheffield. They were the first makers of the celebrated miners’ twist drills. Also known for ship, Scotch, and carpenters’ augers, tap and bung borers. (1820-1884)

“W.A.R.AIRD” Aird & Anderson. No. 12 Whitechapel, Liverpool. Listed as making woodworking tools.

Wales, Thomas. Midland Tool Works, Queens Road, Sheffield. s (Edge & joiners tools & auger manufacturers). (1881-1911)

Whitehouse, Cornelius. Globe Tube Works, Wednesbury. (1845-1877) Listed in in 1849 as tool makers.


Wheatcroft, John. 47 Broad St, Park, Sheffield. Joiners tool and skate manufacturer. 1825….

York, K. ?

Bits that have Ironmongers/Merchants name on them.

Origins, Statutes and Ordinances. In 1455 Articles were granted to the Ironmongers by 23 Henry VI and in 1464 the Gild obtained its parent charter from Edward IV granting them perpetual succession and a common seal.

Moser & Son. London. Of Dowgate Iron Wharf, London. (1861)
Of No. 165, High Street, Southwark, London (1885)

Melhuish, Richard. (Richard Melhuish & Sons) Fetter Lane, Holbone, London. (1828-1910)

Nurse, Charles. London and Sheffield (18__-1937)
They began in Maidstone where they were plane makers moving to London in 1887.

Buck & Hickman. 2 and 4 Whitechaple Road, London. Agents for many tools. (approx.. 1888-2001)

Ryan, George. Euston Road. (of Buck & Ryan, founded 1824) In 1870 George Ryan joined the firm and some years later was made manager. In 1898 George Henry Buck died and George Ryan bought the business.

Osborn, Henry. 96 Weatgate Road, Newcastle-Upon -Tyne.

Buck & Hickman. Began with a tool shop in Backchurch Lane, Whitechaple in 1840 called “Buck & Co.” Then expanded in the 1860’s when they bought an Ironmongery business.

Moser & Son. Dowgate Iron Warf, London. Ironmongers and iron merchants.

Cutts, J. H. Ironmonger of Maccesfield.

Hindley, Joseph. Sheffield. Tool merchant and importer. (1896- )

Long, H. G. Ecclesall Works, Sheffield.Sheffield Also listed as a manufacturer. (1834-1841)

Lewis & Co. Bailey Lane, Sheffield. Edge Tool Merchants

Archer. (Possibly Frederick Archer a Tool Dealer in London (1899- )

Millard ? (Possibly Thomas Millard of K. Millard & Co. (1870-1939) Guernsey

Other European countries
Victor Leloup. Of Toucy, Yonne, France

Boker, Henry. Remscheid, Germany. Henry Boker Tools dates back to 1786. Manydrill bits have their distinctive arrow trademark.

Bleckmann, J. E. Of Solingen, Germany. They were German blade makers. (1871-1918)i

Esser, Ferd. Ferd Esser & Co. Germany. Late 1800’s.

Freduard, Engles & Co. Germany

Zimmermann. Germany

Kurbel Bohrer. Germany

Hilger & Sons. Remscheid, Germany. Manufactured braces and bits and other tools. (1798- )

Ahrem. Germany

Hoff, J. M. & Lange. Germany

A few since the 1800’s commonly seen
WILFIN. William Findlay (Wil-Fin) and Son were tool dealers with retail premises at 69 The Side, Newcastle.

It might be that they were made for Findlay by A. Fielding & Co. (Keighley) Ltd. a once well-known if not famous machine-tool manufacturer.

Bits have “WILFIN Trademark” within a circle on the shank.

Sorby, I.

The mark “I SORBY” is a trademark , there is no Issac Sorby. Also according to the Britannica Dictionary… J, tenth letter of the alphabet. It was not differentiated from the letter I until comparatively modern times.

Extract from Geoffrey Tweedale – Tweedale’s Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers 1740-2013 [2nd edition]


Advertisements show a start date of 1810. The partners were John Sorby (1780-1829) – who was related to the Sorbys of Attercliffe – John Turner (bapt.1778-1857) from Eckington, and Henry Skidmore (c.1766-1822). They made edge tools, cutlasses, and machetes in the Wicker. After 1822, the firm became Sorby & Turner.

In 1876, it was styled Turner, Naylor & Marples and re-registered ‘PUNCH’ and ‘I. SORBY’, claiming that they had been used since 1810.

The firm (which acquired the ‘I. & H. SORBY’ mark in 1932) traded until 1963.

And from the British Museum…

The trademark I Sorby and the Mr Punch image have been used by several makers over the years, making it hard to pin down. It is connected to John Sorby, his sons John and Henry (trademark I & H Sorby). However it seems likely that this mark is related to Sorby & Tuner or Turner Naylor & C, both known to have used ‘I Sorby’ trademark.

Possibly the Naylor is J Naylor, edge tool maker from Sheffield?