Berg Chisels with Edward Zinn Marks

Every so often I see Berg chisels with “EDW. ZINN” | “SWEDEN” stamped on them.  Typically, there is also an image of an elephant stamped somewhere on the blade.

These stamps are attributed to Edward Zinn a distributor who imported edge tools and cutlery from Sweden and Germany into the United States.  “Goins’ Encyclopedia of Cutlery Markings”, page 311, shows that Zinn had an office at 210 11th Ave, New York City, New York, USA in 1910. Zinn registered the picture of the elephant as his trademark in 1914 and subsequently had it imprinted on the items he imported for resale, including cutlery and chisels.

I am surprised that the E. A. Berg company allowed this. This one of a few examples that I have seen of Berg allowing someone else to put their name and trademark on Berg chisels, along side the Berg name and trademark. This appears to have taken place between the time that E.A. Berg passed away in 1903 and C. Gustaf Andersson assumed the role of Managing Director at Berg in 1928. Andersson was very protective of the Berg image and trademark and was likely responsible for keeping the the final version of the Berg “Shark” image consistent and prominent on all Berg edge tools, including chisels.

Below is a set of seven Berg chisels with Edward Zinn markings. They were made circa 1914-1928. Five of the chisels have tanged and beveled blades. Two of the chisels (4th and 6th from the left) have tanged and square-sided firmer blades. In spite of this and some other variations, I believe that these chisels were bought together as a graduated set.

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This chisels have very pretty masur (curly) birch handles, turned in typical Swedish style. None of the handles have Berg decals on them as the chisels were made before Berg used decals.  They also have brass ferrules at the bottom with two rows of knurling. The knurling varies in coarseness and direction as is detailed a little further below.

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Only three of the chisels have steel hoops on the top. These are stout steel rings held in place by small pins above the top of the hoops.

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The four hoopless chisels are interesting. Three of them (see below) show no signs of ever having had hoops. The wood on these three is pristine where  the hoops normally go and is free from any nail holes or indentations. The top of the 4th hoopless chisel is quite beat up, so it is hard to say one way or the other.

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Chisels 3, 5, and 7 have the Zinn trademark elephant stamped on the font of the blades, along with “EDW.ZINN” | “SWEDEN”. The bottom rows of knurling on the ferrules lean in a left diagonal direction and vary in coarseness and spacing.

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The backs of chisels 3, 5, and 7 are stamped only with Berg stamps, including the typical Berg text and Berg “sharks”. As you can see the sharks are not entirely uniform in their appearance from chisel to chisel.

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The fronts of chisels 1, 2, 4, and 6 are stamped with “EDW.ZINN” | “SWEDEN” only. The bottom lines of knurling on these chisels lean in a right diagonal direction and also vary in coarseness and spacing.

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Chisels 1, 2, 4, and 6 have the Zinn trademark elephant stamped on the back of the blades, along with typical Berg text and Berg “sharks”. Chisels 1 and 2, being narrow, only show a Berg shark with the text “SWEDEN” As you can see the sharks are even less uniform in their appearance from chisel to chisel.

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Chisels 4 and 6 below show relative consistency between the Zinn elephants but significant variation between the Berg sharks. The shark on chisel 4 is quite different from the rest of the sharks in this chisel set. Note that chisels 4 and 6 are both square-sided firmer chisels, so the type of chisel does not account for the difference in sharks.

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Here is an another example of a Berg chisel with the Edward Zinn markings stamped on the front.

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Here is the back of the chisel, showing the Berg markings. Note that the Berg shark is an older version and not the final “Shark” design that Berg eventually settled on.

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Here is another variation of the Edward Zinn marking. The text portion is stamped on the front of the blade and the elephant trademark is stamped above the Berg stamp on the back.

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Again, note the older “shark” in the Berg stamp.

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Berg chisels with the Edward Zinn imprints are typically found in the U.S. for obvious reasons. They appear to command a small premium price among collectors.

2 comments on “Berg Chisels with Edward Zinn Marks
  1. Randall Nelson says:

    Birch: The last chisel in your article is one in my collection and if you look closely, you’ll see that it was originally a square edged firmer chisel that a former owner then ground back to give it tapered edges. I kind of wish they had left it alone!

  2. Freddy Ryan says:

    OK, I got a small set of nippers
    about 5 !/2 ” long, look like a
    mimature set of black smith nippers.
    they are marked: Edward Zinn, New York.
    As I look for old German made tools,
    especially “Volkswagen” tools.. I hope
    this item was made in Germany..
    Please, I hope you will let me know..
    Freddy Ryan, Portland, Oregon

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