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6) Old/Rare multitool of the month: John Watts fishing tool 4580

Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,276
6) Old/Rare multitool of the month: John Watts fishing tool
« on: January 06, 2013, 06:25:01 AM »
Been awhile since my last installment in this series :-[ One of my (many) new year's resolutions is to get the old/rare tools back on track, starting with this one:


In the late 1800’s the center of the knifemaking universe revolved around the industrial city of Sheffield  England. Dozens of Sheffield firms large and small produced everything from pocket knives to kitchen utensils to military swords and bayonets, and many thousands of men earned their living in the cutlery factories.  Almost lost in this din of knifemaking activity was a new British patent issued for one of the world’s first multitools, awarded to the John Watts company in November of 1896. (followed by a U.S.-issued patent in December 1897)





Just like modern day manufacturers, John Watts endeavored to increase sales of their new tool-knife by bringing out several different variations of it. In addition to the plier-jaw model sketched above, there was also a waiter’s tool with champagne wire-nipper jaws, a sportsman’s tool with cartridge extractor jaws, a gardener’s knife with pruning shears, and introduced sometime before WWI, this version made specifically for fishermen:





Expected to be used in wet conditions, the John Watts fishing tool was entirely nickel plated to resist corrosion (no stainless steel yet at the turn of the last century) and came outfitted with nickel silver scales and liners. Folding out of the frame of the tool were a whole array of useful implements, including a spear point knife blade, a combination saw/hook disgorger, scissors, a bottle opener, an awl, and a corkscrew.







Great attention to detail and top quality are evident everywhere on this tool, from the stagger-toothed saw blade that has teeth cut the same way as modern multitool saw teeth are cut….





….to the 100-year-old scissors that work even better than many modern day scissors do.





There is even a 3-inch ruler stamped on the back, not unlike a good many multitools available on the market today.





The heart of John Robert Watts’ patent though was the spring loaded plier handle system, which is held in the closed position by sliding the small button (red circle below) into the bottle opener notch in the handle (blue circle) Depress the handle slightly and slide the pin back, and the pliers are once again ready for action. Also note that plier jaw itself has a sharp “tooth” in it for splitting lead shot for use as sinker weights.





Judging by how costly it must have been to produce, a John Watts fishing tool was probably not in the pocket of most turn of the last century anglers. But those lucky enough to have one in their vest while in the stream or on the lake must have certainly considered themselves to be well prepared.




In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Hero Member Posts: 864
Re: 6) Old/Rare multitool of the month: John Watts fishing tool
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2013, 07:39:24 AM »
Cool Tool Cool Review!
It is amazing how many implements from this tool are still used today. The design could be from a tool of today. I find some of these old tools fascinating. Thanks for posting. 
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 8,310
Re: 6) Old/Rare multitool of the month: John Watts fishing tool
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2013, 07:45:10 AM »
That sure is a neat old tool Bob!     :)

What? Enablers! Are you serrrrious? Where? I dont see any.

Hold Fast
Hero Member Posts: 828 Rite of )+( Passage
Re: 6) Old/Rare multitool of the month: John Watts fishing tool
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2013, 08:40:13 AM »
Whoa !  :ahhh I've never seen one of those for real, only in drawings !  :o

Amazing info & pics !  :tu:

thnxs Bob :salute:

Zombie Apprentice Posts: 19,550

Zed gb

******** *
Re: 6) Old/Rare multitool of the month: John Watts fishing tool
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2013, 09:53:54 AM »
It was worth the wait bob  :salute: love old tools and this mt was very cool then and for me even cooler now  :drool: thanks for posting bob and I look forward too our next instalment  :tu:
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 8,723 The MTO handshake.
Re: 6) Old/Rare multitool of the month: John Watts fishing tool
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2013, 01:50:44 PM »
Well that is a ripper Bob  8) 8) 8).

There does not seem to be a lot of meat around the pliers 'tooth'  :think: I wonder if breakage was a problem  :think: :think:

I wonder if John Watts was the first to incorporate a ruler into a MT  :think: :think: 
Interesting that the cap lifter has some jimping on it  :think: & I wonder why they went with a cap lifter instead of a can opener  :think: :think:.
I bet they were expensive at the time  :think: :think:


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Global Moderator Zombie Apprentice Posts: 12,152 North American Meetup: May13-15 2011
Re: 6) Old/Rare multitool of the month: John Watts fishing tool
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2013, 01:56:56 PM »
I instantly thought of the Wenger Minigrip.

I wonder how close the pliers mechanism is?

Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,276
Re: 6) Old/Rare multitool of the month: John Watts fishing tool
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2013, 03:23:04 PM »
Thanks fellows, I plan to get started on next month's article today, so it won't be late. :salute: :D


Well that is a ripper Bob  8) 8) 8).

There does not seem to be a lot of meat around the pliers 'tooth'  :think: I wonder if breakage was a problem  :think: :think:

I wonder if John Watts was the first to incorporate a ruler into a MT  :think: :think: 
Interesting that the cap lifter has some jimping on it  :think: & I wonder why they went with a cap lifter instead of a can opener  :think: :think:.
I bet they were expensive at the time  :think: :think:


That stationary plier jaw does look a bit on the weak side Mat, what with the deep cuts on either side of the "tooth". Seems like they should have made the cuts a little shallower or the jaw a little thicker? :think: But, I've only ever seen two of these tools, and neither one was broken, so maybe it wasn't a problem? :-\

The cap lifter doubles as a notch to lock the pliers closed, so probably a modern-style can opener would work there. :salute:  But back in 1896 everyone was still trying to figure out what a can opener should like like. So I don't think any of those available at the time would have worked out so well. ;) :D


early Victorinox can opener




Joseph Rodgers of Sheffield can opener, short blade near upper right

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Ambidangerous Mistress of Mod Admin Team Zombie Apprentice Posts: 15,072 I'm not all bad, I'm just drawn that way.
Re: 6) Old/Rare multitool of the month: John Watts fishing tool
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2013, 03:28:25 PM »
That's fabulous - amazing design given the age :tu:

Incredible shape it's in too :D

A dyslexic man walks in to a bra...

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