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More about sawyers

Monday 5 November 2012

To continue on the subject of sawyers​—​Roger Dean has just posted a beautiful photograph of some shipwrights in bas relief, paired with this quote from Henry Mayhew:

According to the last census the number of sawyers in Great Britain in 1841 was 29,593; of these 23,360 resided in En­gland, 4,550 in Scotland, 1,508 in Wales, and the remaining 175 in the British Isles. About one-tenth part of the whole of the sawyers in Great Britain were then located in the me­trop­o­lis, the number in London being 2,978, of whom only 186 were under twenty years of age. Strange to say, one of the sawyers above twenty was a female!

[…] Of sawyers there are four kinds​—​viz., the hardwood and timber sawyers, the cooper’s stave, and the shipwright sawyers. The hardwood sawyers are generally employed in cutting mahogany, rosewood, and all kinds of foreign fancy woods. This work demands the greatest skill in sawing. It requires special nicety in cutting, because the timber is more valuable, and a ‘bungler’ might be the cause of great loss to his employer. A hardwood sawyer can generally turn his hand to timber sawing, but the timber sawyers are sel­dom able to accomplish the cutting of hard woods. Tim­ber sawyers are mostly engaged in cutting for carpenters and builders. The work of the cooper’s stave sawyers con­sists principally in cutting ‘doublets’ out of the foreign wood. The shipwright sawyers cut the ‘futtocks’ and planks for ships.


Henry Mayhew​—​‘Labour and the Poor’, The Morning Chronicle​—​4 July 1850
Engraving of a pit saw from an old catalogue

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