General Metal and Holloware

John Shaw & Sons 
(Wolverhampton) Ltd.

Fourth Avenue, Bushbury

The Company's products

I display here a very small selection of the company's products.  They are taken from two catalogues: one of about 1930 (which has kindly been supplied to us Mick Emm, Ted Rawson and Ross Mellows);  and another issued in 1939.  It is not always possible to tell from these catalogues which are things the company made itself, which are those made by other companies and distributed by Shaw's, and which are Shaw's own brand products but made for them by someone else.

So what I have selected here are a few of those where there is nothing to show they were not Shaw's own and made at Bushbury.  They are mainly those with the Governor trade mark, which was certainly Shaw's own, and main, trade mark.

A plate showing the governor trade mark.  Most companies used brass plates but this one is cast in steel, once highly polished.

It is worth noting that quite a lot of the products in the catalogues were made in the USA.  This shows that Shaw's were into importing in quite a big way and is some sort of reflection of the increasing dominance of American manufacturing power.  The c.1930 catalogue is a monster affair, containing over 400 pages.  The 1939 catalogue contains a little under 300 pages (of the same size).  The later catalogue has a smaller proportion of American made items,  fewer pieces of machinery and a smaller range of variations of standard tools.  If this shows that Shaw's were contracting, it also shows the effects of the Depression.

I start with the 1939 catalogue because I got it first.  But is shows a very similar range of items to the earlier one.  And it contains literally thousands of items.  It starts with about 50 different sorts and sizes of file and then proceeds to numerous saws. 

These include this wicked looking item, which turns out to be their way of displaying 18 different types of circular saw blades.  

After that you get band saws, cross cut saws, felling saws, buck saws, back saws, hack saws, frame saws, hand saws, panel saws, rip saws, tenon saws, pruning saws, compass saws, pad saws, chain saws, turning saws, butchers' saws, miners' saws, fret saws, coping saws, as well as saw blades, saw handles, saw sets and saw tools.

Having sawn your wood, you must need a plane.  Shaw's would not fail you:

The planes came in wood and metal and great variety, and were joined by spokeshaves and scrapers.  These are followed by edge tools - many sorts of chisel and, of course, two types of wheeler's bruzzes.  These were by no means all made in Sheffield - Shaw's and other Wolverhampton manufacturers made a lot of edge tools.

Then, after marking gauges, we get to bits, which are represented in this Museum by this Governor Auger Bit Set in Canvas Roll.

There were 9 varieties of these sets alone.  And so on to braces (both chapman's and joiner's and wagon builder's) , bradawls, rampins, gimlets, screwdrivers, bevels and squares, and then on to some machinery.

Circular saw benches came ready for belt drive or, as in this case, with an electric motor.

These saw benches were some of the biggest and most complex items in the catalogue. But the machines include morticing machines, wood trimmers and mitre cutting machines

The there is a die selection of cramps, such as sash cramps, G cramps and even a double prong floor cramp.  And note that they are cramps, not clamps.

After all the axes and hatchets, there are hammers in profusion and mallets of all sorts. 

All of the sharpening stones and similar items offered are made by Carborundum, Axolite or Pike.

The enormous selection of rules, tapes, plumbs and spirit levels are by Rabone.  But Shaw's seem to make at least some of the nail sets, pin punches, centre punches and even ticket punches with a great range of shapes to be punched in tickets.  Things now get more specialised with belt fasteners, carpet stretchers, telegraph and linesmen's tools, and  all sorts of tinmens' snips and tools.
A gas heated tinman's stove which will "heat one bit and keep another nearly ready for use, so that two can be used in succession".
As you would expect in this area, though of course still in very widespread use, there are plenty of blacksmith's tools, including five different styles of anvil and eight different  forges, either with bellows, or fans.
Seven of thebellows are foot or hand driven and only one has provision for being belt-driven;  none of them seems to be available for use with electricity.

There are also pincers, pliers, cutting nippers, bolt cutters, spanners, wrenches of all sorts and pipe cutters.

The Governor Amateurs' Unbreakable Vice, which merits inclusion for the maker's optimism about their products and the skills of amateurs. This, and a lathe, are the only products in the catalogue which are specifically mentioned as being suitable for amateurs. DIY was not the fashionable thing in those days. This amateurs' vice is said to be "specially suitable for wireless construction and use with motor cycles and cycles". 
We pass over five pages of screwing tackle and screwing machines, and reamers and broaches, not being too sure what they might be.  But this standard wire gauge, one of many gauges, is readily recognisable.

The catalogue includes turning lathes, chucks and tools, 16 hand drills and several drilling machines.  But by this time electric drills are also available and there are several here, mostly by Wolf.  Then there are grinders, some of them hand driven, most of them belt driven but a few of them electric.  Then we return to specialisms, with moulders' tools, stonemasons' tools and plasterers' tools.

After several pages of Rawlplug equipment we get on to blow lamps, brazing lamps, blow torches and stoves.  

Read about blow torches and stoves
There are pages of plumbers tools, decorator's tools, glaziers' tools and a selection of knives, including this example.
There are scissors and shears including these "Miniature or Cemetery Shears".  There are plenty of pruning shears and pruning knives, garden trowels, forks, pruners, hoes and rakes and even Qualcast  and Webb lawn mowers.
Amidst the reaping hooks and shepherds' crooks, we have reminders of the less picturesque side of farming life. 

On the left is one of a selection of bull nose pliers and on the right is a lamb castrator. 

There are cattle ear pliers, which come with a wide range of cut designs, unpleasantly reminiscent of the bus ticket punches.

The section ends with a butcher's cleaver.

There are also gun cleaning accessories, air gun darts and two sorts of air gun slugs.  

The catalogue ends with a wide variety of oil cans.

I turn now to the c.1930 catalogue, picking out mainly those things which are different in some way from the 1939 catalogue.

This page, a kind of half title, gives an impression of the range of items which Shaws were distributing.

The items below come from a page headed "Gentlemen's and Amateurs' Tool Chests" and "Joiners' Tool Chests".  One is in a wood box, stained walnut, the other is in "selected pine, nicely finished and polished".  You can work out which was whose - and you can also work out what the difference was between a gentleman and an amateur and then wonder why a gentleman would want a tool chest at all.

There are several pages devoted to guns, air rifles, cartridges and accessories, gun cases and covers, game bags and carriers. Some of the guns and air rifles are attributed to other makers.

It is stated that:

"We give careful attention to the repairing, alteration, and doing up of guns and firearms generally, no matter whether of our make or not". 

This suggests that Shaws made some guns, though it may be that they were simply "own brand" guns made by someone else.  It is notable that by the 1939 catalogue only the cleaning accessories and the air gun slugs are left.

This is the Trojan mower.  In the original the words "The Trojan" can clearly be seen on the wheel and, as the catalogue says, "handle and grass boxes nicely transferred with Trojan devices". 

And, in the original, the grass box transfer has the "Governor" logo in the middle. 

Courtesy of Tony Edwards.

This is the Governor (no mention of Trojan) Motor Lawn Mower, 17" cut, air cooled.

The engine may well be a Villiers - it looks pretty much like one.  There is also a 22" cut Governor water cooled lawn mower which must have had its engine from some other source.

These three photos have been kindly provided by Keith Wootton, who runs the Old Law Mower Club.  They all show mowers made by John Shaw and Sons.

He writes:  "This conventional mower is very similar to a lot of machines made during the twenties.  I am not convinced it has a Villiers engine.  Most motor mowers form the 1920s with the Villiers engine had the two stroke units with the flywheel magneto.  But the John Shaw has a separate magneto and no obvious manufacturer's markings, which Villiers was pretty hot on.  A better bet would be a small BSA unit or an obscure manufacturer.  

This is a more interesting mower, if only because of its design.  The engine is, I believe, a Burgess water cooled two stroke unit.  Interestingly it seems to be almost identical to another mower, known as the Bee, and made by Burgess of Brentwood. 

I have an advert for that machine, dated 1922.  My guess is that there is a link between the two machines although the designs are slightly different, most notably because the John Shaw has a radiator and the Bee does not.

This machine is more or less identical to the one shown in the first photo (which is at the Milton Keynes Museum) and is now in the British Law Mower Museum at Southport."

By 1939 lawn mowers were no longer included in the list of products.

There are several pages of Trojan sewing machines, with or without a pedestal, and all either hand or treadle driven.

"Trojan" is one of Shaw's brand names and these pages are liberally scattered with their governor logo.  The text talks about 50 years' experience" and "the Makers' reputation for excellence in materials and workmanship"; and says that "the enormous output of the factories enables these machines to be marketed at most attractive prices".  All that, and the nature of this sort of machine, suggests to me that these were not made in Wolverhampton.  I would not be surprised to find they were made in the USA.

The catalogue - which was primarily aimed at the retailers - ends up with numerous pages of "carded tools"; and Shaws say they can "card up any lines that lend themselves to it to suit customers requirements.  The pages are interlarded with snappy slogans such as "Governor carded tools help you sell!" and "If they see them, they buy them".  Almost every card bears the line "No risk: we cheerfully exchange if not satisfied".

The card on the left carries milliners' pliers - a rather specialised application.

That on the right carries a complete set of wireless tools.  The inner frame is made up of a typical 1920s aerial array.

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