Unusual Panel Saw by the American Saw Co.

American saw Co. Saw blade etch - featured image.

This article was authored by Wiktor Kuc and Joe Steiner.

Some time ago Joe Steiner (former partner at Sauer & Steiner Toolworks) sent me this email:

“Hey Wiktor,

I don’t know if this interests you but here are some pics of a saw from a co. that is the first example I have seen (maybe you have some examples) but which I would think are relatively scarce. The saw was in rough shape and the etching was nowhere to be seen behind some very thick rust. I saw the handle in a pile of saws and it screamed special. Cleaned it a bit but didn’t want to go too far. It will never be a collector or even a user saw because of the unfortunate breakage on the nose but what a cool etch. I wonder if this was advertising in a useful form for their patented removable teeth in the circular blades that they may be more famous for. I don’t know if you want to include it in the stuff you have on the American Saw co site.

Panel Saw

American Saw Co. – Panel Saw

Specifics on the saw… 20″s now but has been broken so was a little longer, closed drop beech handle held on with 4 split nuts (2 on back MIA) and a graphic 1″ Warranted Superior medallion with eagle holding arrows below 8 (9?)Stars. Mr. FARMER was very proud of his saw because he signed it on both sides. The etch in the middle of the blade –  “MANUFACTURED BY AMERICAN SAW CO, NEW YORK XLNT WARRANTED SUPERIOR EMERSON’S PATENT JULY 16th 1867”.

I don’t know if there was something special on that date but his patents weren’t on this date. I love the “XLNT”, short for excellent?

Joe Steiner”

The Saw

This handsaw was made by the company, known for their mill saws and saw maintenance tools. The handle is nicely shaped in traditional English style, with a well defined “lamb’s tongue”. Unusual etch in bold font with Emerson’s patent “loudly” pronounced and emphasized.

I believe this is very rare example. I have been asking some serious saw collectors about saws made by American Saw Co., but no one has seen this kind of saw. This rarity and unusual etch makes this saw, in my view, an important and valuable collectable item.

So, here it is…

Blade Length PPI/Mark/Type Nib Design Type Blade Mark/
Handle Screws/ L. Screw Estimated Prod. Date
20 -22″ 10/No/
rip filing
none Panel Saw Etch Beechwood 3/1 1867 – 1870
20" handsaw by American Saw Co.

20″ handsaw by the American Saw Co.


Well, it was probably 22″ saw, before the toe was broken off.


Manufactured By American Saw Co. New York XLNT Warranted Superior Emerson’s Patent July 16th, 1867.

Emerson Patents

The patent date referenced on the etch, July 16, 1867, refers to patent No. 66,692 received by Emerson for an “Improvement in Saw”.

Illustration from patent No. 66,692 awarded to James E. Emerson on July 16, 1867.

Illustration from patent No. 66,692 awarded to James E. Emerson on July 16, 1867.

Patent’s narrative provides, in part, the following information:

“The first part of my invention consists in providing the saw with apertures or perforations, a series or plurality of which extend consecutively and in a definite line from or near the throat or point of juncture each pair of teeth, and which subserve the purpose of facilitating the sharpening of the saw, as will be hereinafter more fully explained.

The second part of my invention consists in a novel method of forming the saw with clearing-teeth, in connection with chambers or openings in the blade, for purpose of removing the sawdust from the kerf, and cutting off the ridge which remains at the base of the kerf in consequence of the “set” position of the teeth. … It is of course to be understood that this embodiment of several varieties of teeth in a single blade is merely to condense the illustration, the individual saws, as manufactured, necessarily embracing but one kind of working tooth.” 

It is obvious that the patent date in the etch has nothing to do with this saw and is pointing to a patent Emerson received for another of his many designs of circular and long crosscut saws and theirs teeth.  I can only speculate a purpose for which this handsaw was made. The following comes to mind:

The 1867 was a special year for Emerson.  The American Saw Company was formed in January 1866 and by the beginning of 1867 the management of the company decided to participate in The Paris World Exposition 1867.  The Exposition opening was scheduled for April 1st and Emerson was preparing to make a mark at this exhibition.

The Trenton Daily State Gazette reported on January 3, 1867 the following: “An interesting affair occurred at the American Saw Company’s works on New Year’s Day. The employees of that establishment were regaled with a dinner served upon a mammoth circular saw about twenty-two feet in circumference, now in course of manufacture for the Paris Exposition. In connection with this reunion around the festive saw, a handsome saw and swage of solid gold were presented by the employees to Mr. J. E. Emerson, the director of the works.”

By the end of February the saw was ready and for one day was displayed in Trenton for public viewing. The Trenton Daily State Gazette posted following announcement on February 28, 1867: “The Mammoth Saw Manufactured in this city by the American Saw Company will be on exhibition at Brearley, Cogill & Co’s hardware store, this day and evening only, corner of State and Green street. This saw is seven feet and four inches in diameter and is designed for the World’s Fair in Paris.”

The 1867 was also a year during which Emerson was awarded seven (!) patents. Just in March alone, as he was finalizing preparation for the Expo, he received two patents.

It is clear that “our” saw is a commemorative of Emerson’s patent No. 66,692 and most likely was designed for marketing purposes. It is also possible, that the saw was designed to be a gift to a special attendee of the Paris Expo or to other prominent personality, associated with American Saw Company. It is unquestionable that the saw was made with special care and the whole design is a convincing argument of that.

How this saw landed in Canada where Joe Steiner found it is a puzzle for another article…

English style handle in beechwood, three flat-head screws with split nuts and one medallion.

English style handle in beechwood, three flat head screws with split nuts and one medallion. “Farmer” – carved on the handle. Most likely the owner of the saw.

"Farmer" - carved on the handle's back side as well.

“Farmer” – carved on the handle’s back side as well.

Warranted Superior medallion and three flat-head saw screws.

Warranted Superior medallion and three flat-head saw screws.

This medallion kept me at attention for a long time. There are variety reasons for that and I will explore them next.

The Medallion

Important note: the following analysis are my own (Wiktor), and for any silliness in my observations the reader might find here, I am the one that should take blame, not Joe Steiner. Critique and disagreements are welcome and should be also directed to me.

Here is the medallion from a panel saw made by the American Saw Company (for The Paris World Exposition 1867?) and discussed above.

Rare design of an eagle.

Rare design of an eagle.

Question: Where this medallion came from? Why the eagle is so different from the other we usually see on majority of American saws? Was it made in US or in England?

One of the observations I have is that this medallion is very rare. It was used on a saw discussed in this article and no other examples are known to me.

To analyze a bit further I reviewed all saws I have and then multiple websites, forums and blogs on Internet. I also used Google Image Search but no other examples showed up, except one.  Here it is:

The same type medallion found on Internet.

The same type medallion found on Internet.

Although at first glance this medallion appears to be identical, there are small variations that, after close examination, are apparent. With that in mind, I assume that the creator of this medallion continued to use the same motive of eagle, but it was probably a different die, made at different time. He actually, in my view, came very close.

Smaller version - face and sides.

Smaller version – face and back sides.

I found this medallion on a TreasureNet website/forum at this location. It was posted there with a request for info. Unfortunately, no explanation or further elaboration is available there.

My next step was to review again the type of Warranted Superior medallions used in US in early years. Below I gathered a few examples of Warranted Superior medallions from American saws – late 1840 to late 1860:

Warranted Superior medallions with "American" eagle.

Warranted Superior medallions with “American” eagle.

On occasion some saw makers and manufacturers use the same type of eagle with their name.  Here are some examples:

Branded medallions with "American" eagle.

Branded medallions with “American” eagle.

To round up this review and assure the readers, I am perfectly aware of other forms of eagle use by some saw manufacturers in US.  Here are some examples:

Branded medallions with different eagle designs.

Branded medallions with different eagle designs.

NOTE: The pictures of the medallions shown above came from different sources. Majority of them are my own. A few were taken for a Saw Medallions Reference Guide compiled by “summerfi” at lumberjocks.com. Thanks much for this resource.

Well, we are back, at the same point where we started and questions remain:

Where this medallion came from? Why the eagle is so different from the medallions we usually see on American saws? Was it made in US or in England?

Here again, is the medallion in question.

Rare design of an eagle

Warranted Superior medallion with rarely-seen eagle design.

At this point I realized that there is one more forum I have to visit – the Backsaw.net. Although I knew that members there are mostly interested in English saws, it was still worth a shot. Here is what I found…

Medallion from a backsaw, branded as A. Rosling made by Bearshaw & Son.

Medallion from a backsaw, branded as A. Rosling made by Bearshaw & Son.

Medallion from a dovetail saw, stamped A. Rosling. This brand name was used by Beardshaw & Son and the saw is posted on the Backsaw.net forum by the member with id “kiwi”. The saw was found in Canada.

Medallion from a saw made by Taylor & Son, Sheffield, UK

Medallion from a saw made by Taylor & Son, Sheffield, UK

Taylor & Son medallion posted on the Backsaw.net forum by the member with id “dyounmoses”. Unfortunately, no description of the saw or where was it found was given.

The three medallions came together in perfect harmony. As you can see, the design of this medallion is almost identical. The differences are so minor that I am tempted to consider one source of manufacturing of these medallions. The minor difference, which definitely exist, are a result of different dies made over time to satisfy different needs and different customers.

Since two of the medallions are used on English saws, is this a proof the medallion was manufactured in England and then sold in US? That would be a quick and convenient conclusion, but I am not ready for it. What we have here is what we see – a design shared by three different saw makers.

And this is a good example of the difficulties that any research of sawmaking, when taken to this level of details, is faced with. There is not enough data to resolve some nagging questions – it is that simple.

To add some more to this realization, here is the last straw. Just as I was hoping to be done with this presentation, I remembered that there is one more source I should check – the JimBodeTools.com site. I remembered one saw on that site – a very high-priced, old, and beautiful saw. And there it was – a dovetail saw, made (most likely by Disston) for Dilworth, Branson & Co.
And what do we see on this saw… ? We see this:

The medallion from the backsaw made for Dilworth, Branson & Co.

Medallion from a backsaw made for Dilworth, Branson & Co. Courtesy of JimBodeTools.com.

This is the best resolution I can get at this time. Nevertheless, this is the same medallion design as the one on “our” saw.

The Dilworth, Branson & Co. was a name used by one of the oldest, if not the oldest, hardware house in US. Here is a snippet from Iron Age magazine, Vol. 61, April 21, 1898, p. 41:

“James M. Vance & Co. are recognized as the oldest Hardware concern in Philadelphia, and are probably the oldest in the United States. The present firm has no data as to the exact year in which the business was founded but they find among their records receipts dated in 1777.

The founder of the business was Samuel Dilworth, and after his decease the business was carried on by his sons, William and Charles. They were succeeded by William Dilworth, who afterward admitted Samuel Branson and the firm name then became Dilworth & Branson. About 1847 they admitted to partnership two young men, James M. Vance and Henry D. Landis, who were in their employ, the business after that date being carried on under the name of Dilworth, Branson & Co. In 1858 Messrs. Dilworth and Branson retired, and the business was continued under the name of Vance & Landis.”

Taking the above information into account, the saw was made most likely sometime between 1847 and 1858.

So here we are, with dates for “our” medallion ranging from 1847 to at least 1867 or beyond, and this is without taking into account the saws made by two English firms.

The resolution – NONE… Conclusions – NONE…

The questions still remain:

  • Who was the maker of this medallion?
  • Is it possible that the medallion was made in England by one and the same firm?
  • How did it end-up on saws made in US and England?
  • or Was it made in US?

If you have a comment, data, or any other observations, please post them here or email to: info@wkFineTools.com.  We will be very happy to hear from you.

Wiktor Kuc and Joe Steiner
July, 2014

15 Comments on “Unusual Panel Saw by the American Saw Co.

  1. Thank you for an extensive look at this very special saw and its manufacturer.

  2. We appreciate the work that went into this blog post and thank Wiktor and Joe for their work and extensive research.

  3. This just beyond cool I hope it stays active forever. Untold guys have asked these very questions, and now
    here they are. Way to go Wiktor~!
    yours Scott

    • oh and you too Joe. sorry,
      just excited my friend had done this

  4. Great work Wiktor & Joe, and a fascinating puzzle yet to be solved.
    You have to love a good mystery.

  5. Hi
    Just found your site today. Earlier while metal detecting on a Lincolnshire field I found WS medallion of the type above you stated as being rare. Where they just used in saws and between which dates? I can send a pic later if you wish.

    • Wayne thanks for your comments and apologies for slow response. The medallion was used mostly on saws but I have also seen other tools made in England with this medallion. Namely there were several manufacturers of bit braces that used this medallion. The common believe is that these tolls were made for export to US and US eagle was a marketing gesture toward US.

      Best regards, Wiktor

  6. Have the exact same WS on a saw Earle no. 0 he was a beloved aad respected emp. of Richardson N.J. a panel saw w/ nib good+ two dollors estate sale in Syracuse N.Y. Joe or cedercliff

    • Joe, thanks for your comments. I am a bit puzzled with a name you mention. Can you please clarify this a bit? Is the saw stamped with Earle No. 0? What is the name of the person that worked for Richardson?

      Thanks, Wiktor

  7. good after noon. I’m 63 years old, and this was my fathers saw. I remember him using it, as a child. Is is a Warranteed Superior, american eagle medallion. 8 TPI 26 inch blade, 3 flat head screws and the medallion. Other than a few teeth missing, it is in very good shape. Handle looks to be rose wood. Not interested in selling it, just curious when it was made. Searched the internet, and have yet to find one with the same shape handle. Thank you for your time…Bruce

  8. Hi,
    I collect old tools and have many saws .One has an unusual medallion on the handle,will post a pic some time.


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