Axe Makers of the Hudson Bay pattern?

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by garry3, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    I know there are collectors of that pattern here. Who all made them?
  2. grafton


    Aug 28, 2010
    Gosh, there are lots and in many cases different variations from the same maker too. Off the top of my head and I know I am missing some:

    Snow & Nealley
    True Temper
    Peavey Mfg. Co

    plus ones sold by but not made by:

    LL Bean (6 or more variations)
    Abercrombie & Fitch (3 or more variations)
    David T. Abercrombie Co.
    Eddie Bauer
    Filson (Council)
    Treeline Outdoors
    Best Made (Council)

    Some of the patterns are not what some would call true "Hudson Bays" in terms of shape but they are close and more importantly the people selling them called them that so in my mind they count. I consider the Hudson Bay pattern to contain the variations within it that some people might call something else. The True Temper is a good example of this. To me it is a Hudson Bay as it was sold as such by Herters although they called a lot of stuff "Hudson Bay". Same goes for LL Bean as their intermediate pattern is not what some people would call a Hudson Bay. Bean called it that so its a Hudson Bay to me.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2016
    halfaxe likes this.
  3. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    Exactly the kind of information I was looking for.
    Thank you!
  4. Alnamvet68


    Mar 26, 2013
    Axes manufactured currently in the US only include Snow & Nealley, Barco, and Council. S&N does not offer other seller branding of their lineup. Council makes axes for many other retailers such as Best Made Co which are rebranded; Peavey axes are made for them by Council.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
  5. rjdankert


    Mar 10, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
  6. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    Another manufacturer of "Hudson Bay" axes:

    (as shown below, along with a Gransfors DB falling pattern with a 42" handle, etc...)

    Agent_H likes this.
  7. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Who do you think is most likely to have made/sold no-name Hudson Bays? I found one the other day and I'm guessing Woodslasher but I really have no idea.
  8. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    That would be my guess too, since Woodslashers had labels only (no stamping) at some point in their history.

    From an old auction listing, with surviving label, and the shape of the head for comparison:

  9. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Mine doesn't have the finger groove at the shoulder but it could just be from a different year.
  10. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    Yet another maker of "Hudson Bay" axes:


    4 " Black Head with Polished Edge, Curved Hickory Handle.
    Head Wt. 2 lb.
    Handle Length 28"
    Made in USA
    garry3 likes this.
  11. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    They come much uglier than that.
  12. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    The shape of this one posted by Agent_H looks like the Woodslasher pictured above.

  13. grafton


    Aug 28, 2010
    Those True Temper HB heads are unique in shape, there are no other makers that produced one like it that I am aware of. Woodslashers, Woodsman, Herters, Palco are all the same TT axe.

    Other no name HB patterns without the unique TT shape could be a number of things. When that sticker is gone it makes things more difficult. Could be S&N with missing label. Could be Forest King with missing label etc...those two are very similar and both had metal wedges. There are unmarked heads that match the Collins pattern as well. Herters sold one of those. Photos always help.
    garry3 likes this.
  14. halfaxe


    Nov 29, 2012
    Another maker was Hults Bruk. Some people have called it a Montreal pattern but The Smith & Hawken catalog in 1985 that imported them called it a Hudson Bay. Mine is stamped 0.7/1.5 (kg/lbs.), 25 inch handle, epoxied eye, red painted on the bottom of the handle. They made larger sizes of the same pattern but those were not called Hudson Bay.
    Square_peg likes this.
  15. 300Six


    Aug 29, 2013
    Somehow I think Montreal pattern originated as a commercial response (by Walters Axe of Hull PQ, perhaps) to address design flaws of the HBC trade axe. I'm only guessing here because City of Montreal had no particular renown for volume or caliber of logging or woodsmen whereas rough and tumble bushwhackers of the Ottawa valley would have been horrified to have a 'camper''s axe named after them.
  16. Agent_H


    Aug 21, 2013


    Photobucket is dropping the ball even though I have an active account. I think it is a Woodslasher but you never know.
    halfaxe and rjdankert like this.
  17. 300Six


    Aug 29, 2013
    I've been a long time subscriber to 'Canada's History' magazine (formerly known as 'the Beaver') which was founded as an internal Hudson's Bay Company bi-monthly magazine/newsletter in 1920. Interestingly the Aug/Sept 2017 issue has one page devoted to Trade Axes. Photobucket is not co-operative at the moment so you'll have to bear with my description of the two photos that are on the page. One is a round eye head identical to those made by Collins, Walters etc for tropical trade use during the 1900s and the other is a hatchet with Basque type butt swell handle (thank you Ugaldie) that looks like a cross between Montreal pattern and what is currently recognized as genuine Hudson Bay pattern. The depth of the eye is a little more generous and the length of the head is shorter. The poll is square and is not prominently raised. The script that goes with this:

    Canada's History magazine Aug/Sept 2017 issue page 19

    Trade axes
    Tales and treasures from the rich legacy of the Hudson's Bay Company

    Trade axes were an important and highly prized trade good throughout the fur trade era. The axe head pictured below dates to the early nineteenth century and includes the maker's mark of Robert Sorbey of England on the bit (the blade), while the eye (the hole for the handle) is fairly round. The complete early twentieth-century axe on the right shows a true Hudson Bay pattern, a style made by many companies and which is characterized by the relatively flat top edge and a teardrop-shaped eye. The shape of the eye is important, as the earliest trade axes had round eyes that were problematic for keeping the axe head secured to the handle. The shift to a teardrop-shaped eye --- along with the creation of a thicker, square poll (the butt end of the axe head) --- was likely made in response to the Indigenous and settler customers who used them on a daily basis. If you ever come across an axe head with HBC stamped on the bit, be suspicious! The HBC never marked its axes. But the blacksmiths who made them --- including Robert Sorbey --- often did.

    ----Amelia Fay, curator of the HBC Collection of the Manitoba Museum----
  18. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    Here's the photo that accompanied the online version of that article:

    Square_peg likes this.
  19. 300Six


    Aug 29, 2013
    Thanks Steve! You are the best! And yes those are the correct pictures.
  20. markv


    Sep 8, 2004
    very cool read and info. you guys do all the heavy lifting.
    i have a no name Hudson Bay with 22-1/2 inch handle oal. as to maker, Snow & Nealley is my guess.
    very rough finish grinding scratches on the cheeks.
    kinda chubby convex behind the edge.
    very slim handle, but was really gray and dry when i got it.
    still a good chopper and handy for canoe camping Kephart style.

    all good,
    thanks for posting


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