Alex. Mathieson & Sons

Client

Alexander Mathieson & Sons Ltd ('& Sons', after c. 1890), of the Saracen Tool Works, Glasgow, advertised as 'manufacturers of planes, mechanical, engineering and edge-tools'. 1 They received 'prize medals' at the London, Melbourne and Edinburgh International Exhibitions of 1851, 1862, 1880 and 1886, in their 'quest for perfection in tools'. 2 Mathieson's vast output included specialised craft implements for coopers, ship's carpenters, tinsmiths and wheelwrights. 3

The firm originated when master plane-maker John Manners opened premises in Saracen Lane, Glasgow, in 1792. 4 Alexander Mathieson (c. 1797–1852) took over his business in 1821, which he gave as the foundation date of his firm. 5 He was later succeeded by his son, Thomas A. Mathieson (1822–1899), a prominent Glasgow magistrate and preceptor of Hutcheson's Hospital charitable institution. 6 In 1854, Mathiesons moved to East Campbell Street, and had opened branches in Edinburgh, Dundee and Liverpool by 1876. 7 The third generation comprised Thomas O. and James H. Mathieson (born 1867), the latter being a Glasgow bailie (councillor), whose estate totalled an enormous 150,939 in 1926. 8

Mathieson's hand- and small machine-tools (e.g. bandsaws and beading machines) were exported worldwide, especially their 'heavy duty auger bits used... for boring railway sleepers'. 9 In 1880, they 'held the Admiralty contract for the supply of screwing tackle to the Royal Naval Dockyards', while exhibiting woodworker's 'beautifully-polished brace screw-bits ... [and] spirit levels' in Melbourne. 10 The firm entered liquidation in 1952: it was eventually subsumed by W. Ridgway of Sheffield. 11 In 1953, Saracen Tool Works, an 'old-established business ... factory, warehouse, ... trademarks ... stock chiefly of engineers', woodworkers', [and] boilermakers' tools', was offered for sale in one lot. 12

Notes:

1: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1889–90, p. 436; 1890–1, p. 438; Glasgow Post Office directories, 1880–1900. See also, John Adamson, 'Two great Scottish tool-makers', Furniture and Cabinetmaking, 223, 2014, pp. 58–61.

2: Alex. Mathieson & Sons, Illustrated Price List of Tools and Machines, 9th edition, 1933, pp. 1–4, www.hansbrunnertools.gil.com.au [accessed 26 March 2013].

3: Alex. Mathieson & Sons, Illustrated Price List of Tools and Machines, 9th edition, 1933, pp. 5–12, www.hansbrunnertools.gil.com.au [accessed 26 March 2013].

4: Wiktor Kuc, 'Alexander Mathieson & Son, Ltd', The History of Woodworking Tools in [the] U.K., www.wkfinetools.com [accessed 27 March 2013].

5: Wiktor Kuc, 'Alexander Mathieson & Son, Ltd', The History of Woodworking Tools in [the] U.K., www.wkfinetools.com [accessed 27 March 2013]; Glasgow Directory, 1821, p. 132; 1822, p. 137.

6: Glasgow Herald, 11 March 1899, p. 6.

7: Wiktor Kuc, 'Mathieson Companies, 1822–1966', The History of Woodworking Tools in [the] U.K., www.wkfinetools.com [accessed 27 March 2013].

8: Scotsman, 18 August 1926, p. 7; census data at www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 27 March 2013].

9: Wiktor Kuc, 'Alexander Mathieson & Son, Ltd: Historical Overview', The History of Woodworking Tools in [the] U.K., www.wkfinetools.com; H. and B. Riddering, 'Mathieson, Alex.', Vintage Machines for Wood and Metal, www.treadleit.info/manufacturers [both accessed 27 March 2013].

10: Glasgow Herald, May 25, 1880, p. 4; 18 November 1880, p. 4.

11: Edinburgh Gazette, 29 July 1952, p. 452; Wiktor Kuc, 'Alexander Mathieson & Son, Ltd: Historical Overview', The History of Woodworking Tools in [the] U.K., www.wkfinetools.com [accessed 27 March 2013].

12: The Times, 27 January 1953, p. 1.