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Dating vintage Starrett tools

Discussion in 'METROLOGY - MEASURE, SETUP & FIT' started by jamesicus, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    For several years I have wanted to have a readily accessible facility that would enable me to date my vintage STARRETT tools. I hope to accomplish that goal via this project which would benefit from visitor input and would be universally accessible.

    I earnestly request all input from fellow Starrett users/collectors. I wil credit all participants and publish results and updates periodically on this Forum.

    The data I have recorded to date is quite sparse and undoubtedly will benefit from corrections and additional information. A problem for me is my failing memory - fortunately I own a good selection of Starrett catalogs for the years 1900-1980 - invaluable references indeed.

    Here is the project page: http://jp29.org/starrett.htm

    I would greatly appreciate any input from members of this Forum.

    James
     
  2. Charley Davidson

    Charley Davidson United States Active User Active Member

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    I love my Starrett tools but not sure if I want to actually date them :roflmao::lmao::roflmao::lmao:

    All kidding aside I like your project. I will post a link to a book store that has a couple of old Starrett catalogs tomorrow.
     
  3. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    Well I was prepared for that whimsical reply, Charley :)):tiphat: And seriously, I always appreciate leads to vintage tool catalogs.

    James
     
  4. raross61

    raross61 United States Active User Active Member

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    Here are a couple of pictures, I have a couple of mic's, I do not think they are the satin chrome and they are blue frames? Just wondering in you had any idea how old they might be?

    Picture 001.jpg Picture 002.jpg
     
  5. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    Good morning raross61. So far I have only found descriptions for black enamel frames in my catalogs. A pic of the label end of the factory box would be an enormous help in identifying these mics - I hope you can post one.

    Added: Is there a possibility that the box is not the one the mic originally came in? That happens quite often. The reason I pose that question is that the box is of some age (1920s/1930s and maybe immediate post WWII ?) - I seem to remember some references (I don't recall where or of what substance) to blue enamel frame Starrett mics, but of more recent manufacture. My research catalogs end at 1979, the date of my last new Starrett tool.

    James
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
  6. FanMan

    FanMan Active User Active Member

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    Here's an old small Starrett vernier caliper. Was my Dad's; I believe he bought it when he was in college, 1946-1950 or so, but he might have bought it used, or he might have acquired it earlier while he was serving in the Navy during the war:

    micrometer_371.jpg

    The front is a .001" vernier. On the back side it's calibrated in 64ths, no vernier, with marks for inside and outside measurement.

    It's sitting in an old eyeglass case that he kept it in, along with a conventional B&S micrometer of similar vintage.

    micrometer_371.jpg
     
  7. Charley Davidson

    Charley Davidson United States Active User Active Member

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  8. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    Thanks for the link Charley - he has the 1938 catalog for sale in VG condition at $20 - that is a fair price pretty much in line with the five or so currently listed on e-bay. The 1938 Starrett catalog (I own a copy) is the one most commonly encountered and in my opinion is one of the better references (my favorite ones are the 1953 - by far - and the 1927).

    Here is the 1938 Starrett catalog as a PDF - courtesy of Rose Antique Tools: http://www.roseantiquetools.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/1938starrettno.26.pdf

    Thanks again, Charley.

    James
     
  9. Charley Davidson

    Charley Davidson United States Active User Active Member

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    Make him an offer he can't refuse He doesn't have to pay eBay fees
     
  10. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    Hi FanMan. It looks like a No. 123 Pocket Vernier Caliper which was featured in the 1927 catalog but dropped by the time of the 1935 catalog.

    Added - scan of 1927 catalog page:


    I am sure this tool has great sentimental value for you, FanMan - something to be passed down in your family.​

    James
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2017
  11. raross61

    raross61 United States Active User Active Member

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    Here is the picture of the blue micrometer box, you requested the other day. Sorry it took so long burried at work!

    Bob in Oregon

    - - - Updated - - -

    James,

    I believe this is the original box off the 1-2" Mic. the description is the same! No lock, No thimble, so in it's day I would say it was the economy model!

    Bob in Oregon

    Picture 003.jpg Picture 010.jpg
     
  12. Tom Griffin

    Tom Griffin United States Active User Active Member

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    James,

    I may have a few vintage Starrett tools and I know I have a couple of early 1900's catalogs. The web site is a great idea, I wish someone would start one for Lufkin as I have a rather extensive collection of their tools.

    Tom
     
  13. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    Thank you for the pics Bob. The label confirms it is indeed a No. 436 mic - I hoped there would be a Starrett stamp or writing on the label indicating the blue enamel finish on the frame resulted from a special order (which Starrett advertised was available) - all of my catalogs specify black enamel for all painted mic frames. Of course, a previous owner may have painted the frame, although the quality of the finish looks to be OEM.

    You are correct in your assessment that this was an "economy" model - Starrett used such terms as "an ideal tool at moderate cost for all-around shop use" in describing it. It had a long sales life: it wasn't listed in the 1900 catalog, but it was in my 1927 catalog and was still listed in my 1979 catalog.

    I think the box dates fom the 1920s/1930s/1940s. The following pics are from my 1927 Starrett catalog:


    James​
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2017
  14. mckay3d

    mckay3d United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Dear James,
    Now that I have seen your project page I am anxious to date the Starrett tools I own. I have a couple of later catalogs (No. 28 and No. 31) and also a large 1938 No. 26 catalog. (I think it might have been a dealer's counter catalog)
    Regards... Maurice

    Starrett 38.jpg
     
    RIMSPOKE likes this.
  15. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    Thank you for the feedback Maurice. That is a wonderful catalog - a real treasure - thanks for posting the pic.

    James
     
  16. MrTFW

    MrTFW United States Iron Registered Member

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    Good evening, James. Thank you for taking the time to put this together. I've collected a few older Starrett tools in the past couple of years and found two that didn't have the "Co." at the end of the L.S. Starrett name stamped on them. The first was a 12" caliper that seems to be able to be used as either an inside or outside caliper (photo 1 and 2). The second is a level that appears to be an 8", No. 97, based on the pictures in the catalog you linked to(photos 3 and 4). It's always a pleasure to handle (and use) these old tool that are still so functional.

    Keith W

    caliper1.jpg Caliiper2.jpg Level1.jpg Level2.jpg
     
  17. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    Thank you for your great contribution Keith. You have two very early Starrett tools as shown by the stampings. Up to 1895 tools were stamped as follows (and as your tools are) - no "The" preceeding L. S. Starrett and no "Co." following Starrett or "U.S.A" following Mass:


    0astarrett14.jpg

    In 1895 the stamping was changed to the form we are most familiar with now:


    0astarrett16.jpg

    Of course, it took some time for the changes to be reflected on goods in process but it seems to be generally accepted that Starrett tools bearing the "old" stamping were produced prior to 1900. The early stamping was often accompanied by the patent date (like your calipers) as follows:


    0astarrett14a.jpg

    Starrett tools bearing the early stamping are considered rare and desirable by Starrett tool collectors.

    BTW, Keith, that is a stunning level you have - beautiful!

    James
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  18. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    Good morning Tom. I am becoming very nostalgic in my old age - I guess that is inevitable - I too would like to see more online reference resources for great old tools such as Lufkin. Why not compose such a web site yourself, Tom?

    James
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  19. Tom Griffin

    Tom Griffin United States Active User Active Member

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    James,

    I have thought about building a Lufkin site, but currently it's not high on my list of priorities, but it is on the radar. Right now there aren't enough hours in the day to compete the projects I am working on. :shrugs:

    Speaking of nostalgia. I recently tracked down another Lufkin collector who was a well known authority on Lufkin tools and he sent me a CD with a catalog cross reference on it along with some other historic info and as an added bonus, included a couple of bricks from the Saginaw factory. I'm using them as book ends for my Lufkin catalogs. How cool is that? My wife doesn't get it, but I'm sure another too collector would appreciate the significance.

    Tom
     
  20. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    I am in the same boat, Tom - in addition to running twelve web sites (109 pages) and two message Boards, I am a Calligrapher producing daily commissions, occasional bookbinding and ongoing historical writing. Isn't retirement great? By the time I am ninety I will be pretty much fully occupied!:))

    I have heard about that, Tom - great stuff! -and I really do appreciate the significance.

    James
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  21. Tom Griffin

    Tom Griffin United States Active User Active Member

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    See? Now that's the problem, I still have to work for a living. Maybe after I shake this pesky job, I'll have more time for the important stuff. :thumbsup:

    Tom
     
  22. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    Ah yes, Tom, that is indeed an unfortunate problem - I will try to put together a Lufkin page - with your help (just a little) and guidance.

    James
     
  23. Tom Griffin

    Tom Griffin United States Active User Active Member

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    James,

    I have a fair amount of Lufkin literature and a lot of NOS Lufkin tools that I've been meaning to photograph...

    Tom
     
  24. MrTFW

    MrTFW United States Iron Registered Member

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    Good morning, James and all --

    Here are a couple of pictures of a Starrett double protractor (see page 41 in the catalog link posted earlier). It was in the same box as the level and has a patent date of Dec. 27, 1904. The id stamp is just L.S.S. Co. and is one I didn't see on your site, James.

    This is all good fun and thanks again for all the work you've put in on it.

    Keith W

    Double-Prodractor.jpg Protractor2.jpg
     
  25. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    Hi Keith. That stamping is depicted on my web site (sometimes with or without U.S.A):

    0astarrett15.jpg

    I have not been able to determine when that stamping was introduced - obviously after circa. 1900. It seems to have been employed thereafter whenever there was a space restriction on the tool that would inhibit the full name stamping. In general, it appears that patent dates were used on early tool production. Of course, patent dates are not of great use in dating tools - Patents were only good for four years from date of issuance and were often obtained some time after the tool had been in production - patent dates were sometimes used long after the patent had expired.

    James
     
  26. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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  27. itsme_Bernie

    itsme_Bernie United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Wow! I'd love to see some Lufkin literature!
    I love Starrett tools, but I also love the Lufkin ones I have been able to find.

    Bernie
     
  28. Harvey Melvin Richards

    Harvey Melvin Richards United States Active User Active Member

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    Since I have a weird obsession with Lufkin tools, I'll be eagerly awaiting these photos.
     
  29. Tom Griffin

    Tom Griffin United States Active User Active Member

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    So it looks like I'm not the only one infatuated with Lufkin tools. I'm also building a website and was considering adding a reference page. The Lufkin information might be a good addition there since James probably doesn't want to "pollute" his with non Starrett stuff. ;)

    The website is coming along well James. Are you planning on digitizing any of the catalogs, or are there copyright issues since the company is still in business?

    Tom
     
  30. jamesicus

    jamesicus Iron Registered Member

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    Hi Tom,

    I am pleased to hear you are doing that. I love Lufkin tools too - but I won't be including any on my Starrett research web page.

    I have neither the time or energy to do that, Tom. Copyright is always a thorny issue beyond fair use extracts. I believe copyright ownership expires on anything older than 85 years and it is consigned to the public domain - some material copyright only extends to the 1970s. However, it is always best to check usage out with the copyright owner. I note that Rose Antique Tools (and others) have digitalized numerous manufacturer's entire catalogs - including Lufkin: http://www.roseantiquetools.com/id92.html (which includes a Lufkin milestones compilation) - and offer them as free PDF downloads - and in some cases offer printed copies for sale.

    Added: 1895, 1938 and 1948 Starrett catalog PDF downloads are available at: http://www.roseantiquetools.com/id97.html (Rose Antique Tools - includes a concise Starrett company history)
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013

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