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Bench Shears

1840-1870
Origin: America, Connecticut, East Berlin
OL: 42 3/8" Length of cutting edges: 8 5/8"
Iron and steel
Gift of Stephen Eisenhart
Acc. No. 2014-65
Bench shears, large size with elongated jaws and angled bench tang.
Label:While the tinsmith would use a scissors-like hand shear to cut small pieces of tin, for larger cuts he would turn to the bench shears. Based on the same principal as the smaller version, this shear was mounted on a work bench or stump, and allowed the operator to put much more force into the cut, while offering good control.

The lower handle has a downward-pointing tang which fits into a hole in the workbench or stump. A similar projection at the end of the top handle acted as a stop, bearing on the lower one and preventing the used from crushing his knuckles.

These tools were manufactured in a number of different sizes during the 18th and 19th centuries, and this example is amongst the larger ones. Made by the Connecticut firm of Roys and Wilcox, the mark CAST STEEL means the shears was forged from steel made by the casting process. This causes confusion nowadays since it does not mean the components of this tool were cast into the shapes we see.
Provenance:From the Eisenhart collection of tinsmithing tools.
Mark(s):Stamped ROYS & WILCOX - EAST BERLIN - CAST STEEL in three lines on the lower handle near the pivot bolt.