Atha, Stanley/Atha & Stanley Nail Hammers

Last updated: 12 August 2016

ACQUISITION OF THE ATHA TOOL CO. BY THE STANLEY RULE & LEVEL CO.

The Atha Tool Company of Newark, New Jersey (founded in 1884) manufactured and supplied to the metalworking and woodworking trades a wide range of specialized hand tools that were renowned for their excellent design and fine quality.

The Atha Tool Co. - along with their entire line of tools - was acquired by The Stanley Rule & Level Co. in 1913, a tremendous addition to the latter company's tool offerings. It appears that at first - and maybe for some time thereafter - the Atha Tool company operated independently from the parent Stanley company and on occasion separate catalogs were issued bearing their name. However, Atha tools were gradually incorporated into the Stanley catalogs with the tools eventually being identified as Stanley-Atha.

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Stamping on left cheek of Atha Tool Co. Nail Hammer head


STANLEY ATHA NAIL HAMMERS UP TO WWII

It seems some hammers manufactured after the Stanley take-over were stamped with the Atha company Horseshoe logo on the left cheek of the head and some handle labels included THE STANLEY RULE & LEVEL Co., NEW BRITAIN, CONN. U.S.A.

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Atha handle label including
THE STANLEY RULE & LEVEL Co., NEW BRITAIN, CONN. U.S.A.


There was a bewildering succession of model designations and numbering systems (including numerous prefixes and suffixes) for Stanley-Atha hammers that was constantly changing during their early production life. The entire numbering system was changed in 1933.


Most Stanley-Atha hammers were stamped on the left cheek of the head with the familiar STANLEY within a cartouche logo - sometimes a MADE IN USA stamping was appended although this was inconsistent. This variance is also found in catalog illustrations although it should be noted that those illustrations do not always depict actual production tools. There was no Atha stamping on these Stanley-Atha hammer heads and Stanley informational decals were affixed to the handles. These decals are very important identifiers that should be preserved at all cost - even fragments of them - for it is the only way to positively identify these Stanley-Atha hammers! Handles were of straight grained hickory and were lacquer finished. The factory applied handle decals soon wore off with use, but the presence of even scant remnants is testament to the originality of handles. The model number, configuration and head weight were often stamped in black ink on the end of the handle - invaluable information all to often lost due to hammer usage. The presence of the distinctive Stanley factory head securing wedges is a good indicator of originality.

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Decal that was affixed to the handle of all Stanley-Atha nail hammers
Note the Atha Tool Co. logo on the left

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Typical Stanley-Atha nail hammer showing placement of decal on handle

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STANLEY in cartouche stamped on left cheek of hammer head

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Model designation (41½) and head weight (16oz) stamped in black ink
on the end of the handle


Stanley-Atha tack hammers were sometimes employed by wood workers for fine finishing work including installation of leather or fabric coverings. I have included one here in order to illustrate various Stanley-Atha hammer features.

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Typical Stanley-Atha tack hammer showing placement of decal on handle

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The factory applied handle decals soon wore off with use, but the
presence of even scant remnants (as here) is an important identifier

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STANLEY with MADE IN USA stamped on left cheek of hammer head

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Model number (601) stamped in black ink on the end of the handle


STANLEY NAIL HAMMERS - POST WWII 1940s TO THE 1960s

Post-WWII Stanley nail hammers bore different handle decals than the pre-war Stanley-Atha hammers. The first ones following the end of the war and until circa. 1950 were orange colored and bore a small Atha Tool Company logo on the right

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All post-WWII Stanley nail Hammers were designated as such in the Tool catalogs and sales literature - there were no longer any Stanley-Atha references. The familiar STANLEY within a cartouche logo continued to be stamped on the left cheek of the head with MADE IN USA sometimes appended, although this was inconsistent as was a model number, configuration and head weight stamping.


Stampings

Example of a typical head stamping:

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(on left cheek of head)
STANLEY
(in cartouche)

No. 51½ 16-OZ
# 5 configuration: bell face - round black neck - polished round poll
W/L code 1½: Head weight: 16 oz. - Overall length: 13"

It seems that Stanley changed the style and form of the stampings from time to time. There are variances similar to those found on Stanley wood chisels. I have encountered hammers of this period with only STANLEY (in cartouche) or STANLEY (in cartouche) with MADE IN USA underneath. These variances can also be found in catalog illustrations although it should be noted that those illustrations do not always depict actual production tools.


Decals

Decals, which sometimes included information relating to features and configuration, were affixed to the handles of new hammers - and sometimes to the right cheek of the head - at the factory.

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Handles

Handles were of straight grained hickory and were lacquer finished. The factory applied handle decals soon wore off with use, but the presence of even scant remnants is testament to the originality of handles. The model No. configuration and head weight were usually stamped in black ink on the end of the handle - invaluable information all to often lost due to hammer usage. The presence of the distinctive Stanley factory head securing wedges is a good indicator of originality.

Remnant of label on handle:

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Ink stamping on end of handle:

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Depictions of original Stanley factory head securing wedges:

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Claw Types

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Curved Claw Nail Hammer

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Ripping Claw Nail Hammer

There was also a "semi-ripping" style offered that had slightly more curvature than the standard Ripping Claw depicted.


Stanley Nail Hammer Configurations

1 ..... bell face - round ribbed neck and poll - highly polished - 100 Plus
2 ..... same as 1 except ripping claw instead of curved - 100 Plus
3 ..... bell face - octagon black neck - octagon poll - highly polished
4 ..... plain face - plain neck - highly finished
5 ..... bell face - round black neck - polished round poll
9 ..... plain face - plain neck
10 ... bell face - round black neck with polished ribs - polished round poll

Those models described as having black (enamel paint) necks inevitably came with the tops and bottoms of the heads and the backs of the claws also painted black. The paint on the necks in particular often gradually wore off with heavy use and in consequence was sometimes sanded off entirely by users for a better appearance. "100 PLUS" hammers were described in some 1930s catalogs as having "orange enamel painted head ribs", however, I have only encountered red painted ribs.


Stanley Nail Hammer head weight and overall length (W/L) codes

0 ............. 28 oz. ........... 15"
1 ............. 20 oz. ........... 13½"
1½ .......... 16 oz. ........... 13"
2 ............. 13 oz. ........... 13"
2½ .......... 10 oz. ........... 12½"
3 ................ 7 oz. ........... 12"
4 ................ 5 oz. ........... 12"

Weight is of the head only -- length is overall (top of head to bottom of handle).


EXEMPLAR STANLEY NAIL HAMMERS OF THIS PERIOD


100 PLUS

1 SERIES: bell face - round ribbed neck and poll - highly polished

2 SERIES: same as 1 SERIES except ripping claw instead of curved

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No. 100 plus 11½
# 1 configuration: bell face - octagon neck and poll- highly polished
W/L code 1½: Head weight: 16 oz - Overall length: 13"
white lacquered hickory handle with octagon neck.

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No. 100 plus 11½
# 1 configuration: bell face - octagon neck and poll- highly polished
W/L code 1½: Head weight: 16 oz - Overall length: 13"

The handle on this specimen has been replaced at some time in its working life.

"100 plus" series hammers were designated "the Aristocrats of Nail Hammers" by Stanley.


4 SERIES: plain face - plain neck - highly finished

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No. 43
# 4 configuration: plain face - plain neck - highly finished
W/L code 3: Head weight: 7 oz - Overall length: 12"


5 SERIES: bell face - round black neck - polished round poll

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No. 51½
# 5 configuration: bell face - round black neck - polished round poll
W/L code 1½: Head weight: 16 oz - Overall length: 13"

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No. 53
# 5 configuration: bell face - round black neck - polished round poll
W/L code 3: Head weight: 7 oz - Overall length: 12"

Series 5 Stanley Nail Hammers - with the 51½ (16 oz) leading the way - were the most popular and best selling models. They were always featured on the first hammer page in the main Stanley Tools Catalogs.


10 SERIES: bell face - round black neck with polished ribs - polished round poll

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No. 101
# 10 configuration: bell face - round black neck with polished ribs - polished round poll
W/L code 1: Head weight: 20 oz - Overall length: 13½"

Series 9 Stanley Nail Hammers were essentially the same as series 4 except not as highly polished.


REFERENCES


Go to the Vintage Woodworking Hand Tools Directory