Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 5, Issue 6
   July 2011
   What Is It?

What Is It?

When replicas of commercial products are discovered, it always raises the question as to what purpose they served. In this particular instance, there's no doubt that these items were never intended as cheap copies to be sold by relying on the branding and goodwill the original manufacturer, the Walters Axe Company, worked so hard to build. Reproductions (as opposed to the previously mentioned "cheap copies") have always been classed as either salesman samples, patterns from the factory floor, showroom models or examples of personal whimsy. These options may all be reasonable explanations in this case.

The samples, found and collected in the Ottawa Valley, are made of painted and varnished white pine. Each has the appropriate factory label affixed to it and each is a full-sized representation of the production axe head. Prior to being placed in the Lee Valley collection, there was much discussion by those who saw them as to their purpose. It is probable that they came from either a wall display at the Walters Axe Company's head office or from of a salesperson's sample case. (Until its demise in 1973, the company employed travelling salespeople who represented its product to owner-operated hardware retail outlets across Canada.)

The company, which sold to 20 other countries in addition to Canada, advertised over 400 different axe patterns and was quick to capitalize on the ever-changing demands of both the forestry worker and the average customer. Most axes were offered in varying weights and handle lengths, displaying an escalating scale of forging and finishing qualities.
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