Another C. Hammond Shoe Hammer

This is one of the smallest cobblers hammers I have seen, with the diameter of the face just about 1 inch. Most of the bright finish is still intact and the head neatly repaired with three distinctively shaped tacks.  The handle is elegantly slender, reminding me of a chasing hammer handle that smiths use.  The hammer is stamped “C. HAMMOND / PHILADA / 0”, with the Hammond logo running straight across, rather than curved as pictured in the catalog below. Perhaps this is an earlier style of logo stamping?

This hammer weighs 7.7 oz. with the handle, however the “0” size listed in the catalog below weights 11 oz., and the “000” 7 oz., (without the handle) which may contradict my theory, that very generally speaking,  hand tools tend to get smaller over time.  “Dinkification” is the technical term for this evolution.

I’ve written about C. Hammond bookbinding hammers before, and also have a rather beat up size 3.  Recently, for the first time in 2 decades of collecting, I’ve found a number of signed and numbered cobbler’s hammers– could these be an indication of the current disappearance and dispersal of professional shoe repair shops and their tools?

Catalog image courtesy of Gary Roberts of Toolemera Press, who has posted a PDF of a 1910 C. Hammond & Son trade catalog on his website.

Turkish Cobblers Hammer

This French style cobblers hammer is interesting for two reasons- the very short handle, which actually gives a lot of control and I did observe an iterate street cobbler using an identical one, and the unusual method of head attachment.  Earlier French cobblers hammers often has straps that extended down the handle.  Salamon, in his Dictionary of Leatherworking tools pictures one.  In this case, there is not a wedge that holds the handle in the eye, but a hole is drilled through the wood and the thick wire extending up through the sides of the eye are bent over to peen the metal to the wood.  I haven’t been extremly rough with it, but it seems a fairly secure method. I purchased all of these in Istabul, Turkey in 2008.

Good Diehl

Edith Diehl’s “Bookbinding: Its Background and Technique”, thanks in part to an inexpensive and ubiquitous Dover reprint, is perhaps one of the most common introductory bookbinding manuals.  Although frequently maligned for propagating innacuracies, especially the historical section, the practical section is informative and well done.  I use her sequence of leather covering steps when teaching– it is a clear, calm list of what needs to be done. Panicking students, covering their first full leather binding, often find it reassuring.  Her diagrams in general are concise and present the relevant information in an easy to follow manner.




This hammer came from her studio, via Gerard Charrier, who purchased many of her tools. It is a large London pattern cramping hammer and according to Salaman, Barnsley’s 1890 catalog of cobblers tools lists six sizes of them, this one is a “No. 1”.  It is similar to a French hammer and is used to paning the sole edge, heel breast and waists of shoes. He also notes that this style of hammer was already going out of fashion by 1839!  The head is quite large, 55mm, so I don’t use it for binding- more often to tenderize pork when making tonkatsu, or in place of a proper beating hammer.  Even though I don’t use it for binding, the feeling of using historic tools remains somewhat inexpressible. Touching the  smooth worn areas at the end of handle, examining dirt near the head, or polished areas around the cheeks, gives me direct tactile and visual information about how Diehl held it.  The makers mark is fragmentary, but it starts “CHAMMO…” with “CAST STEEL” stamped underneath.   This hammer must have been the one she copied for the illustration below, unless she had more than one of them.  The illustration is from page 143 of the Dover edition.




Diehl  likes a large and heavy  hammer, feeling they are less likely to damage signatures by leaving small indentations in the spine.  She also makes the point that when using a heavy hammer, its weight does most of the work, so there is less danger of forcing it and damaging the signatures.  She specifically recommends that the hammer should be weighted so that the face balances even if no one is holding the handle, as both the photo and figure clearly show.  I find it a bit odd, given the attention to detail in most of her diagrams, that she didn’t depict the eye in this one. There are two photographs of students using a similar London pattern hammer in Palmer’s 1927 manual “A Course on Bookbinding for Vocational Occupation”, found on the frontispiece  and on page 38. One is using the face to back a book, the other the  peen. 

I also have a book from Diehl’s library. Her gold stamped book plate is quite lovely. It only measures 35mm high and 27mm wide and I assume it is St. Jerome.






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