Box with tools, c 1910

© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
1910 - 1919
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Tools from several countries, harmoniously contained within a confined space, represented different cultures of craftsmanship as well as diverging paths towards industrialisation.

This box from the Technisches Museum Wien’s collection contains tools from the United States, Germany and Austria: they include a hollow plane, cornice plane, compass plane and flattening plane, a dovetail saw and crosscut saw, straight-back handsaw and circular saw blade, and a brace, glue press, and compressing iron. Particularly striking is the plane made entirely of metal. Planes used in traditional handicraft were made of wood. But, in the 19th century, factories in England and the United States began making more and more plane bodies out of bronze, iron or steel. The tool’s standardised components were manufactured with such precision that they were interchangeable. This property of ‘interchangeability’ made it a lot easier to manufacture in large numbers. Universal planes were also designed so they could be adjusted and set differently depending on their use. Equally remarkable among the objects featured in the case is the replica of a Japanese crosscut saw, made by Messrs. Vogel & Noot in the Styrian town of Wartberg. A nod, perhaps, to the highly sophisticated culture of Japanese craftsmanship?

The largest Austrian manufacturer of wooden tools was Johann Weiss & Son, established in Vienna in 1820. In 1861, the company published a large-format tome richly illustrated with 700 plate depictions of its products to coincide with the World Exposition in London. The title itself was already indicative of the scope of production: Atlas of Austrian tools for woodworkers, specifically cabinetmakers, instrument makers, railway workshops, carpenters, binders, wainwrights, scarf joiners, chair braiders, matchstick factories, moreover tools for bookbinders, leather workers, glazers and amateurs. By 1914 Weiss & Son employed 600 people. But the loss of large sales territories after the First World War signalled the company’s gradual decline.

Date of origin: c. 1910

Inv.Nr. 341/5

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