Tools & Trades History Society


Videos from Australia

Three interesting videos have kindly been donated to the library by John Brown who has been researching Forestry work and it's history in New South Wales. John wrote an article 'The Sleeper Cutters' on  Colonial Forestry in Journal 10 back in 1997 and is still researching and learning new techniques in preparing videos as he approaches his 99th birthday.

The videos are on Pitsawing, Shingle Splitting and using a Broadaxe and you will find links to them in the Library Tab above.

International Tool Catalog Library

If you are looking for a large source of downloadable tool catalogues and associated books then head for the International Tool Catalog Library where there are well over 200 available for download in pdf and other formats. The range covers US, British and European catalogues.

Link is here Tool Catalog Library

A few more catalogues to download

These are a few catalogues from the TATHS Library and other sources that have been scanned or photographed and now made available here.

Henry Gomph harness tools catalogue Circa 1880 here; Beadle general tool catalogue from 1957 here; E Gray Bench Tools catalogue circa 1935 here; W Rose Builders Tools catalogue 1929 here; Crafts,Trades and Industries Book List 1968 here

TATHS Library


In July 2023 TATHS donated it's library to The University of Reading where it had been held at The Museum of English Rural Life. Following the donation MERL will begin to catalogue the collection with the main MERL Library and will place some books into the more accessible MERL library. The TATHS material will become better advertised than before and hopefully more used by researchers.

Conditions of the Donation Agreement allow further books to be added by TATHS and for any duplicate items to be offered back to TATHS.  All items will be marked as having come from TATHS and accredited to TATHS in the catalogue.  The Library will continue to be available for viewing as follows:

The TATHS Library contains around 1300 books, catalogues and videos on tools and trades, including many that are out of print. The Library Index is here

The Library is located at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading. It can be visited in the Reading Room without charge but it is necessary to make an appointment.

Some items may be temporarily removed by MERL for exhibition elsewhere and It is advisable to check with the Reading Room before making a visit to view a particular item.

The Reading Room is open Tuesday to Thursday 9.30am to 12.30am and 1.30pm to 4.00pm. Currently closed for lunch 12.30am to 1.30pm.. It is open to the public. To make an appointment, telephone: 0118 378 8660 or email

The Museum of English Rural Life, The University of Reading, Redlands Road, Reading RG1 5EX. Further information can be obtained on the MERL web site.

The Museum itself is well worth viewing and now has refreshments available in the cafe.

Latest Library News

Jane Rees (TATHS President) and Kate Arnold-Forster (University Museums and Special Collections Director) with the signed Donation Agreement on 18 July 2023.

Continue reading

About cataloguing

The catalogue of items in the TATHS library at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) is in title order. The items within the library are filed strictly in TATHS Accession Number order and it will help the library staff if you quote both title and number when requesting to view a particular item.

A Class has been assigned to show whether the item is a Book (B), Almanac (ALM), Trade Catalogue (TC) , Video, CD or Other (O).

An attempt has been made to provide a Category and in some cases Sub Category to give some indication of the subject matter and help to search for a particular subject. On some Trade Catalogue entries the Sub Category indicates the firm involved.


Categories and Sub Categories

  • 18th Century Tools
  • Adzes
    • Axes
  • Agricultural
    • Horticultural
  • Archaeological Tools
  • Blacksmithing Farrier
  • Bookbinding
  • Boring Tools
  • Brickwork
  • Building
    • Architecture, Leadwork, Steelwork, Plastering,
    • Electrical, Glass, Fixings, Plumbing, Surveying, Lifts,
    • Heating, Roofing
  • Cabinet Making
    • Ornament
  • Carpentry
    • Joinery
  • Collecting
  • Coopering
  • Country Crafts
    • Coppicing, Thatching, Corkcutting, Buttonhooks, Canework
  • Decorative Arts
    • Pottery, Sculpture
  • Draughting
    • Drawing, Design
  • Edge Tools
  • Encyclopedia
  • Engineering
    • Steam
  • European Tools
  • Furniture
    • Treen
  • Gauging Instruments
  • Hammers
  • Hardware
    • Nailmaking, Woodscrews
  • Hones
    • Stones, Abrading
  • Horological Tools
  • Iron
    • Steel, trade Ironwork
  • Joinery Trades
  • Kitchenalia
    • Baking, Cheesemaking, Grocery
  • Knives
    • Scissors
  • Lathes
  • Leather Trades
    • Shoemaking, Saddlery
  • Locks
  • Marking
    • Setting out Tools
  • Medical
    • Dental Instruments
  • Metalwork
    • Gunsmithing
  • Milling (millwrighting not metalwork)
  • Musical Instruments
  • North American Tools
    • Lathes, Levels
  • Planes-metal
  • Planes-wooden
  • Printed Ephemera
  • Printing
  • Rope work
  • Rules
    • Measuring, Sliderules
  • Saws
  • Scientific Instruments
    • Globes, Lens making, Microscopy
  • Shipwrighting
  • Silversmithing
  • Social History (includes Biographies, and registers)
    • Directories
  • Stonemasonry
  • Textiles
    • Felt, Linen, Tailoring, Needlework, Spinning,
  • Embroidery,
    • Cloth Finishing
  • Timber Trade
  • Tinsmithing
    • Coppersmith
  • Tool Manufacture
  • Tools
    • Supplies ( wide ranging TCs )
    • Undertaker's supplies
  • Trade Catalogues (these appear as TC in the Class field)
  • Trademarks
  • Veterinary Instruments
  • Welding
  • Wheelwrighting
  • Woodcarving
  • Woodworking Tools