Chisel Makers Converge #1

This little 1/4″ chisel represents a milestone of sorts.

As the handle label indicates, it’s a GENSCO brand chisel, typically associated with the Eskistunasteel manufacturing facility in Torshälla, Sweden.  Odd … the blade has the Jernbolaget “crown, anchor, and E” on it. And there is also a “1030” stamped on it, which is part of the E.A. Berg chisel numbering convention. (1030 was the number Berg used to identify butt firmer chisels with beveled sides.)

Revised Mar-17-2015 – I recently received some new information that explains the “1030” stamped on the chisel blade. Although Berg used the number “1030” to identify their butt firmer chisels with beveled sides, so did Jernbolaget. This was confirmed in a 1927 Jernbolaget catalog that I recently had a chance to examine.

Quite a mish-mash and a bit puzzling at first.

Gensco Jern Berg 1960s1

Gensco Jern Berg 1960s2

Gensco Jern Berg 1960s3

The final clue shows up on the box the chisel came in. You can see the mauufacturer’s name above the GENSCO brand name. It’s “A.B. BAHCO”.

Gensco Jern Berg 1960s5

Gensco Jern Berg 1960s6

Revised Mar-28, 2015 – These chisels were made for export to the U.S. for Bahco’s GENSCO distributor, General Swedish Hardware Corp of Elk Grove, Illinois. Prior to the Bacho buyout, the U.S. Distributor for Gensco chisels was the General Steel Warehouse Company Inc., Gensco Tool Division located in Chicago,  Illinois.

Four of the original half dozen 1/4″ chisels remain.

Gensco Jern Berg 1960s4

Gensco Jern Berg 1960s8

This all makes sense now, although it does indicate a bit of an identity crisis. Bahco bought up E.A. Berg in 1959. It also acquired Eskilstunasteel (the manufacturer of Gensco chisels) at around the same time. Then, in 1960, E.A. Berg (now owned by Bahco) bought up and merged with Jernbolaget. In a sense, these chisels commemorate the union of these three chisel (and edge tool) makers under Bahco. These are the only four chisels with this mix of labels and blade markings that I’ve seen so far.

I’m surprised at the condition of these chisels. They look brand new. They must have been manufactured in the early 1960s while Bahco was still struggling with branding identity issues for it’s new acquisitions. That would make them around 50 years old.

I believe the yellow plastic handles are made of cellulose acetate or cellulose acetate butyrate — both of which are made from wood pulp. Both have been used to make chisel handles from around 1929 up to the present day.

13 comments on “Chisel Makers Converge #1
  1. Kim Malmberg says:

    Quite a mixture, I agree. Still, as you say, there is a weird logic to it. The 1030 stamp together with a Jernbolaget logotype might not be so odd. I believe that at this stage, the Bahco owned factory made identical chisels for both the Jernbolaget, Berg and other brands. So maybe late era Jernbolaget branded chisels would have been stamped the same way as the Berg, except for the logo. Oddly enough, those few dark red plastic handled Jernbolaget chisels I own, do not display the 1030 or 1031 stamp.

    • Birch says:

      I have this notion, unproven so far, that Bahco did not continue to make Jernbolaget brand chisels for very long after they bought Jernnbolaget out (via Berg) in 1960. I think they may have concentrated on the Berg brand of chisels instead. I would really like to get my hands on some complete Bahco catalogs from the 1960s to prove or disprove this.

      I do know that Bahco did continue to sell Jernbolaget brand knives as late as 1965 and probably later.

  2. Russ S says:

    Wow, what a great find!

    A quadrizzle-marked tool if you include the box, showing Berg, Jernbolaget, Eskilstunasteel and Bahco all at once!

    Here in Sweden twice-marked Jernbolaget/Bahco knives show up sometimes, as well as twice-marked Berg/Bahco knives and very occasionally a tool. I have one 38mm Jernbolaget chisel stamped with the Jernbolaget Anchor and also with the Berg model designation ‘1031.’ I’ve always been curious about it. I assumed that after the merger they mixed up some parts bins.

    Speaking of twice-marked tools, I found a Stanley-Fray brace marked ‘1105’ here in Sweden. I can find no information on this model. Anyone else found one of these?

    Best regards, and great site!


    • Birch says:

      The uniqueness of those 4 chisels escaped me when I saw them on eBay, although I did recognize the Bahco-Gensco connection right away. I’m glad that I snapped them up.

      I’m going through files and photos right now to see what else I have that is stamped by more than one maker.

      Glad you like the site. 🙂


  3. Kim Malmberg says:

    Not to steal the attention from chisels on this site but Sandy Moss knows just about everything a out bit braces.
    Here’s some info on John S. Fray braces:

  4. RussS says:


    Here’s an interesting twice-marked Berg-Jernbolaget chisel. It’s marked ‘Anchor-Fish’ with both and anchor and a shark on the label. There appears to be no engraving on the steel. This is the only example I’ve ever seen, and I would guess it was made 1960-65. In addition to being twice-marked, this is the only definitive proof I’ve seen of a ‘Berg’ chisel being unmarked on the blade!

    See ‘-eskilstuna-anchor-fish-hajen’ on thé T site.

    Also, Interesting Lindström chisels.

    Best regards.

    • Birch says:

      The Anchor & Fish brand chisel you pointed out is very interesting. I’ve never seen one before, either. I’ve added it as another brand to my ever-growing list.

      Thanks for pointing that out, Russ. It’s another very interesting find.

      The chisel with the two ‘fish’/’sharks’ and two diamonds imprinted on the back of the blade was also new to me.

      I think I’ll have to do a quick post showing all of your discoveries.

      Best regards. ~B~

  5. RussS says:

    Wasn’t me. Like Birch I’m swimming in chisels. But I think this blog contributed to a minor run on off-brands this time.

    I wonder about the Anchor and Fish. The fish is a shark, and Berg chisels are known as the ‘shark’ brand, not the fish brand. So why didn’t they call it ‘Anchor & Shark’? But if it wasn’t of Berg origen, could they have used a shark picture and gotten away with it?

    The biggest mystery of all is why this is interesting at all. But it is! It’ll be fun to see what happens next time.

  6. Randall Nelson says:

    For some reason, I can’t see the pictures you are posting for the “anchor-fish” label, but an alternate guess about the possible origin of the fish emblem would be the Sandvik “fish”. I guess that company would also be in the tool company “mix” at some point, and might want a nod to their brand, also.
    Another thing- I think Jernbolaget started using the 1030 designation for butt chisels before Berg did. I think that number, 1030, became the short-hand designation for butt chisels for all the Swedish companies, since I have it marked on a box from either the late 50’s or the early 60’s that held Agersta chisels, one of the least-known brands. Unless Berg or Jernbolaget were actually making the Agersta tools, which I doubt, the number would seem to just designate a specific style of chisel at that point.
    Also- it is interesting that the chisel box lists the Gensco company name as General Swedish Hardware Corp., where it was listed as being General Steel Products Company in the original tool ads, published in Popular Mechanics back in the late 40’s and early 50’s. The company primarily manufactured prefabricated steel buildings; selling chisels made in Sweden was probably just a sideline for them and an alternate source of advertising. Which brings us to the question: was Jernbolaget the actual source of the Eskilstunasteel group, which probably consisted of Gensco, Handy, Esteel, Beaver, Toledo, etc.? It all points to consolidation for survival, in the world-wide battle with the Stanley Corporation for market share.

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