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Art September, 28 2009

The Disstonian Institute | A History of Disston Saws

Fell upon the Disstonian Institute over the weekend, and subsequently spent much of next few days trolling through its pages. Few websites are so dedicated and comprehensive in their coverage of a single manufacturer, in this case Disston Saws. Disston’s history begins in the 1840s, when Henry Disston was freed at age 21 from his apprenticeship to saw makers William and Charles Johnson (by way of bankruptcy). The following years found Henry suffering set backs (like being swindled by a fraudulent landlord), but did not deter the man. Fires burned down his factories three times before 1850. Still, in 1855 he became the only saw manufacturer to make his own steel.

The resolve of its founder and superior quality of product made Disston the largest selling saw in America during the first half of the 20th-century. Success leads to a good story, all of which is contained in the Disstonian Institute, covering saws, stamps, and even advertising. A great American tale, and one worth spending time working through.

Some selected advertisements and examples of Disston backsaws after the jump.

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