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Saw Collecting And Restoration #1: S Biggin & Son Backsaw

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Blog entry by Waterlog posted 11-27-2014 02:55 PM 3770 reads 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Picked up a S Biggin & Sons backsaw on the e place, it is in transit as we speak. Can’t find much info on this company or saw. I want to know how rare it is and if it can be dated. Any thoughts or critique of the saw? Thanks.

-- LWB Waterlog



16 comments so far

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

15671 posts in 2471 days


#1 posted 11-27-2014 11:24 PM

Gorgeous saw youve got there. I dont know a ton about them but i do know they are English made dating to the mid 1800’s. LJ theoldfart has a couple if i remember correctly. That lambs tongue is drool worthy and probably my favorite handle design.

The saw thread may be of some help if youd like to cross post there. Tons of guys with some serious in depth knowledge.

-- rock, chalk, jayhawk

View summerfi's profile

summerfi

3315 posts in 1152 days


#2 posted 11-28-2014 12:19 AM

There were various Biggins, all related, in the saw making trade in Sheffield, England from the 18th century forward. Simon Barley’s book British Saws & Saw Makers from c 1660 lists S. Biggin & Son(s) from 1845 – 1856. Their factory was called American Works, which is an indication they made a lot of saws for export to America. The business changed from Son to Sons in 1855 or before. Your saw is interesting in that the medallion says Sons and the spine stamp says Son, unless the “s” is worn off the latter, which is a little hard to tell in the picture. I would date your saw around 1855.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works http://www.rmsaws.com/p/about-us.html

View Waterlog's profile

Waterlog

105 posts in 1397 days


#3 posted 11-28-2014 12:37 AM

Thanks for the feedback. I will update when it arrives. Can someone give me an idea of its value. I am curious if I bought below, at, or above market value.

-- LWB Waterlog

View Don W's profile

Don W

17966 posts in 2032 days


#4 posted 11-28-2014 01:11 AM

Gorgeous saw. It should clean up beautifully.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View summerfi's profile

summerfi

3315 posts in 1152 days


#5 posted 11-28-2014 01:19 AM

I had that saw on my watch list, as I do with most British-made saws on ebay. I see you took the BIN option before there were other bids. What you paid is not surprising. I would say it is market value or slightly above for unrestored condition. It is more than I would have paid, but I’m a cheapskate, always looking for bargains on ebay. In fully restored and sharpened condition, it could well be worth twice what you paid. The plate is rusty and likely has some pitting, but may be salvageable. It’s too bad someone nipped off the corner at the heel. If it were my saw I would replace the plate, but most people probably wouldn’t think that necessary. The handle is nicely styled and in good condition except for the chipped upper horn. That can be repaired. I believe it was a good quality saw when it was made, and if restored, it could be a good user saw for another 100 years or more.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works http://www.rmsaws.com/p/about-us.html

View Waterlog's profile

Waterlog

105 posts in 1397 days


#6 posted 11-28-2014 01:32 AM

Yea, I did the buy it now. The listing was only 2 hours old, $55 with free shipping. It is my first nice “old” backsaw.

-- LWB Waterlog

View summerfi's profile

summerfi

3315 posts in 1152 days


#7 posted 11-28-2014 01:36 AM

I overlooked the free shipping. In that case I’d say you’re right around market value. Nice find.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works http://www.rmsaws.com/p/about-us.html

View Brit's profile

Brit

6728 posts in 2307 days


#8 posted 11-28-2014 03:01 PM

I agree with the approximate date Bob put on the saw. The elements found in the handle’s design definitely put it in that era.

$55 would be a bargain this side of the pond for that saw. If it had sold on ebay.co.uk I would have expected it to go for about £50-£60.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

8120 posts in 1915 days


#9 posted 11-28-2014 03:21 PM

Waterlog, I think I have the same saw. If you troll the saw thread there should be pics about a year ago. I,ll be on my laptop this evening and I’ll check my pics.Sorry to say I got very lucky on mine as far as price goes, picked up a number of saws for about $20!

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Slyy's profile

Slyy

2425 posts in 1120 days


#10 posted 11-29-2014 12:42 AM

It’s a gorgeous looking saw Waterlog, anxious to see how she comes out once you get it all cleans up. I’m right with the consensus on the toat/tote/handle: it’s drool worthy.

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View Waterlog's profile

Waterlog

105 posts in 1397 days


#11 posted 11-29-2014 08:22 PM

Well it was a red letter day. I got the Book Of Plates and the S Biggin & Sons saw at the same time. The saw is way better in person and I get a real feeling of it’s age when I handle it. At the moment, my thoughts are not to disturb any of the handle at all, it is in beautiful original old condition and color. I may put some true oil on it just to seal it up. The plate and back are very good too but, I will address this. However, I do not want to apply any abrasive to remove rust. I have used vinegar to do this in the past with very good results but if someone has a better idea, I am open to another method. I really can’t afford to loose any of the imprint on the back, it is worn quite a bit already. It read S Biggin and Son. I can not see where an S has worn off at all. The medallion is mint and does have “Sons” on it. Here are some new pictures of what I think are important shots, different than the previous copied from the eBay listing. I will post more pictures after I clean up the plate and oil the handle. Thanks for looking.

-- LWB Waterlog

View summerfi's profile

summerfi

3315 posts in 1152 days


#12 posted 11-29-2014 11:22 PM

That’s a beautiful handle, and I like the heavy spine with crisp chamfer. Looking forward to seeing it after you clean it up.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works http://www.rmsaws.com/p/about-us.html

View Luke's profile

Luke

289 posts in 2151 days


#13 posted 11-30-2014 08:44 PM

Try electrolysis, its actually a very simple process, I just restored (or am in the process of restoring) a Disston and a Jackson that I got of eBay, both I used electrolysis, and the etching was preserved, I also wanted to keep the patina, and only used a scotchbrite pad to remove the black residue left from electrolysis.

View Brad's profile

Brad

1129 posts in 2204 days


#14 posted 12-28-2014 02:37 PM

Yes a superb specimen. Lovely lines. Congratulations!!

But how to clean it up? I agree with the minimalist approach to the handle. But what about the brass? Shiny, polished brass against a patina’ed handle would look odd wouldn’t it? Is there a way to clean the gunk off the brass while maintaining its patina? I haven’t found a way to do that.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View Brit's profile

Brit

6728 posts in 2307 days


#15 posted 12-28-2014 03:16 PM

Here’s my take on cleaning the brass. Take your time and clean it by hand until it is shiny, then if you don’t want to keep it shiny, just leave it to develop a patina. It will take about 3 months to lose its shine and then it will match the handle.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

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