Sunday, August 4, 2013

Unusual Tools: No. 4 BASA Hammer

BASA is a trademark of Greene, Tweed, now out of Kulpsville, PA.  This company dates back to 1863 when John W. Greene and J. Ashton Greene partnered with Henry A. Tweed to distribute hardware and mill supplies.  Two years later it began diversifying.  In 1873 they produced packings, basically rudimentary seals for mill pumps, which became a company staple for many years.  In 1895, they began distributing the Champion Chain Pipe Wrench.  Today, they're a large manufacturer of high-performance materials with applications in the aerospace industry.

The hammer, which is technically called a "refractory hammer", was developed by the company in 1933 for use in the installation and demolitiohn of coke ovens, blast furnaces, and other applications where refractory brick (fire brick) is being installed.  Today, it is referred to as a "split-head hammer" because the top is in two parts, held together by a large nut at the bottom, so the striking material in it can be changed or replaced.  Apparently, this kind of hammer was particularly common in the 1930's and 40's, and could be had in various materials for the striking face, including copper, aluminum, plastic, rawhide and babbitt metal. 

No one seems to know where the name "BASA" came from.  Opinions as to its derivation on the 'net range from a corruption of a Japanese word, to a neologism created as a trademark.  I emailed Greene, Tweed with this question but, typical of my experience with American firms, did not receive the courtesy of a response. 
J.H. Ashdown Hardware Company Limited,
Winnipeg, 1953


peterunfola said...

Nice, straightforward information you present here. Well done. And .. jeeze ... Odd that no one seems to know the origination of the 'BASA' designation ...

Anonymous said...

Just picked up a Greene & tweed no1 at a barn sale how rare are these?

Anonymous said...

These hammers are not rare. They are still made and used. I'm a refractory brickmason and we use these to tighten the brick down in fire clay. Firebrick have tight mortar joints not like red brick (house bricks). Most commen faces are rawhide. Number 1 hammer is the smallest and 5 the largest. Garland Manufactoring is the largest maker of these.

DeWitt Shank said...

My Greene-Tweed Defense Hammer No. 4 has no split head. The head is 3 3/4 in. wide and 2 1/2 in. in diameter. It weighs 4 lb. 2 oz. with the handle, which is 10 1/4 in. long. I'd guess 3 1/2 lb. without the handle.

The logo is a slightly curved downward sunken panel above, containing the Greene-Tweed name embossed into the panel. The center is "U.S.A." embossed into a sunken "oval-ish" panel. Below is another sunken panel slightly curved upward, with "Defense Hammer" embossed into it. All lettering is in caps.
/ U.S.A. \

Something like that.

Would there be anywhere to get an approximation of the date of manufacture based on the differing logos used?

The head has no inserts. Its striking ends have seen a lot of use and are dinged up. Does anyone have any idea as to value?

Thanks for any help at all.

DeWitt Shank
Lewisburg, WV

Mister G said...

I'm not sure that we can find way to date it, could you send a picture or two, I'll add them to the blog. Thanks for the comment/question.

Kyle said...

I use one at work all the time. We have plenty of old tools and stuff here. Going to assume that since many of the things I see around have dates from around 53-56 that the hammer was likely made later, but possibly it had just been here longer than that. It is the No. 4 BASA Hammer with North Wales, PA on it.