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The Haines Pattern of trade hatchets

The Haines Pattern….. a frequently noted style of “trade” or “carpenter” hatchet that has a distinctive tapered neck hammer on the poll end of the tool. But who is “Haines”, and where did the pattern or type of hatchet originate? As are so many stories behind axes and other edged tools, the story of the Haines Pattern isn’t a simple one to work out!

   The Haines Pattern first began appearing in trade catalogs, journals, and advertisement in the late 1880s, with the earliest illustrations I could find being in 1888. That early reference was in the illustrated catalog of Dunham, Carrigan, & Company, a hardware wholesaler out of San Francisco. An understanding of product distribution and marketing tells us that East Coast tools weren’t quickly marketed, shipped, and advertised on the West Coast in the 1880s, so we can assume that the Haines pattern was developed a few years prior to that first illustrated instance in the media. Direct marketing shows us that the manufacturer of those first years of Haines patterned tools was accomplished by the Underhill Edge Tool Company of Nashua, New Hampshire. At that time, the Underhill company would have been independent, but in 1890, that business would join the American Axe and Tool Company, and soon thereafter, the Haines Pattern would be advertised, along with “Haines” labels consistent with the design of other Underhill based lines ad brands, in the A.A.& T. Co. catalog.

   In 1892, however, a small hardware manufacturer from Skowhegan, Maine, by the name of C. A. Williams and Company would contest ownership of the distinctive pattern of hatchets. Owned by Charles A. Williams and his son Joshua F. Williams, the Williams company had started as a chisel making concern in 1857, quickly shifted to manufacturing ice skates in 1858, and began making hammers and hatchets around 1889. Flyers and articles in the media pushed claims that the Williams had come up with the Haines pattern and through an inability to keep up with orders, their firm had contracted with Underhill to manufacture the hatchets needed. At the time of the contesting, the company had decided they were not happy with being provided with their goods from a “Trust”, and they decided to manufacture the product on their own going forward. They were apparently perfectly happy to note this to their customers and the general public.

    Some questions on this idea should immediately become evident:1) How were Haines patterns being sold on the west coast in 1888 if the Williams     company became involved in hatchets and hammer in 1889?2) How was the Williams company able to manufacture the needed product from      Skowhegan in 1892, despite previously being unable to keep up with orders?3) Who controlled the line, or who held the patent to the design, if there was one? 

      It’s possible that the Williams family came up with the pattern that would become the Haines pattern. Charles and Joshua were noted as inventing an unpatented machine that punched eyes in the heads of hatchets during manufacturing. They may well have designed an unpatented head for hatchets. But why not the “Williams” pattern then? At this time, no patent for the head design has been noted, which is odd, as the American Axe and Tool Company held control of a similar pattern, the “Ideal” hatchet design of Ethan Rogers, that was advertised alongside the Haines Pattern in their catalog. The answer may lie in the “Haines” name, so who was “Haines”?

   Nestor Haines was born on October 9th, 1840, in Wentworth, New Hampshire, to James Milton Haines and Mary Smith. In his youth he worked as a clerk in a dry goods store, which seems to be a commonality in many men who would later work in hardware and tool production. On April 30th of 1861, he would join the First Regiment of the New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry and go to war in what was noted as the War of the Rebellion (the American Civil War). After the end of the War, he would go to work with the Underhill company, and by 1882, he was listed as Superintendent of the company’s factory at Nashua. Nestor Haines would die of Typhoid on November 15th of 1885 while still acting as the Superintendent of the Underhill Edge Tool Company, and would seemingly be the namesake of the Haines Pattern that is still used to this day.

   Did the Williams company suggest the manufacturing of the “Haines Pattern” to the Underhill company for manufacturing, or did Nestor Haines come up with the pattern on his own? We may never know. However, the Haines pattern’s hammer neck is distinctly different from the Underhill pattern’s, and the two were marketed alongside one another under the Underhill Edge Tool Company, the American Axe and Tool Company, and the general hardware industry as a whole. This implies a distinct development within the Underhill company, likely by Nestor Haines, not simply by some unnamed developer. One thing is for certain, the Haines pattern was popular enough to outlive Nestor Haines, the Williams, the Underhill company, and the American Axe and Tool Company, making it an important part of axe history.

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Unknown member
May 31

Well done on the Nester, Haines, C.A. Willams Shingle axe -Skowhegan, Underhill, Thanks......Cheers. A.G.

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