Garrett’s Black Diamond Axe

Welland Vale Mfg Co.
St. Catherines, Ontario

Catalog illustration of Garrett's Black Diamond Axe by Welland Vale from 1923
Engraved illustration of Garrett’s Black Diamond Axe – 1923

“Black Diamond” was possibly the most over-used marketing term for tools and hardware of the last century. There were at least 3 different makers of a “Black Diamond” axe in Canada alone.

Garrett’s Black Diamond was a top-tier hand-made axe produced and sold by Welland Vale Mfg Co. The earliest known listing for the axe was in 1906 and the last in 1928 – although it’s likely the axe was produced until Welland Vale was purchased by The American Fork & Hoe Co. in 1930.

A listing for the brand describes it as:

Hand forged from the finest grade crucible edge tool steel; a special scientific process produces a perfect temper capable of maintaining a strong, keen edge that will stand severe usage; full black finish.

H. S. Howland, Sons & Co – Catalog (1923)

Garrett’s Black Diamond only came in a full-size single-bit chopping (felling) axe, between 3.25-5lbs. They were priced above the more well-known Welland Vale Black Prince, and equal to other top-end axes like the All-Steel and Special.

Image of a Garrett's Black Diamond Hand Made Axe with stamped name in the pole
Example from author’s collection


This axe stands out because of the bold stencil lettering painted white on a black finished head. It was the only axe in the Welland Vale line-up to get this treatment. Unfortunately, paint does not hold up to use and there are no known surviving examples.

However, the axes were also stamped with identifying markers. The sample in my collection has the name “Garrett’s Black Diamond” stamped on the pole (left side).

Branding stamps on the back of Garrett's Black Diamond Axe
Stamps on the backside of the axe have been triple-struck, likely due to a light imprint on the first attempt.

On the back (right side), is stamped “Copyright secured” with a circle emblem that states “handmade”. It looks like there was an icon in a circle at one time – but it cannot be made out.

You can faintly see the circular icon on the image below from 1923 (although in this example the “handmade” stamp is on the front.)

Catalog photo of Garrett's Black Diamond Axe from 1923
Starke-Seybold Limited, General Catalog 1923

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  1. “Axe Makers of North America” by Allan Klenman (second edition – editor: Larry McPhail), 1990
  2. – Welland Vale Co.
  3. H. S. Howland & Sons General Catalog No. 24, 1923 – Fisher – University of Toronto
  4. Starke-Seybold Limited, General Catalog 1923 – Canadian Centre for Architecture