During the Second World War many manufacturers had to change the finishing processes of their products. This was for a variety of reasons- reduced workforces meant they did not always have the manpower that they had in pre-war days, the need to produce more items quicker reduced the time that could be spent on each one or the simple lack of raw materials meant they had to use substitutes. This often meant that the products offered on sale were of poorer quality than pre-war examples and manufacturers were keen to indicate to customers that this was a temporary change and was not indicative of their normal products. Items can often, therefore, be found marked ‘war finish’ or ‘war grade’ to explain why the quality was poorer. Today we are looking at a wartime production adjustable spanner:
The spanner is clearly stamped ‘War Finish’:
This indicates that the pre-war, finely milled and polished finish had been replaced by a simple oil bluing finish and the tool was slightly rougher than customers were accustomed to. Despite this suggestion of lower quality, this tool is now over eighty years old and still in good and workable condition. The only other marking is on the opposite side where it is stamped with the maker’s name ‘Abingdon’:
Abingdon were a major tool manufacturer that had been founded in 1856. Amongst their most famous brand names was ‘King Dick’- this brand name had been introduced before the war but was not used on all products and so this is an example of one of the tools just marked with the company’s name rather than with its brand name.