I found this beautiful old glass cutter at a ReStore recently. The handle is a lovely, open-grained wood and the ferrule is brass. The head is steel, and has a set screw for holding a carrier for an industrial diamond. The diamond is very worn so this tool saw heavy use.
The firm of James Hartley wasn't really a tool firm--they made glass. In 1836, the Hartley brothers set up their own glass-making business in Sunderland, on the north-east coast of England, formerly better known as Wearmouth. There they established the Wear Glass Works and traded as James Hartley & Co. In 1838, building on German technology, James was granted a patent for Hartley's Patent Rolled Plate. For the next 50 years, this would be the company's major product.. In fact, by the 1860's, the firm was using this process to make one-third of all the glass made in England and employing up to 700 workers. Jame's heirs lost but then regained control of the business in the 1890's, but the company was finally rolled up in 1915. So, my glass cutter is at least a century old.
The story didn't end there, though. One son continued making coloured glass as Hartley, Wood & Co., which was eventually taken over by Pilkington's in 1982. (The British Pilkington company invented the Float Glass Process in the 1950's, a revolutionary method for producing flat glass by floating molten glass over a bath of liquid tin.) The original company continued under the Hartley, Wood name until 1997. The National Glass Centre was built in 1998 in the interests of preserving the skills of these glass-makers, but went into bankruptcy only two years later. In 2005, Pilkington was acquired by a Japanese company, NSG.