Historical information

An adze is an ancient and versatile cutting tool and has been in use for thousands of years. Adze are similar to an axe but with the cutting edge perpendicular to the handle rather than parallel. They have been used since the Stone Age. Adzes are hand tools used for smoothing or carving wood.
The subject item was made by Ward & Payne of the Limbrick Works at Hillsborough, Sheffield England manufacturers of hand-forged tools. Their trademark registered in 1850 was a Letter "W" & "P" stamped into the steel.
The firm was established by David Ward (1767-1822) in 1803 the company became David Ward & Sons, in 1837 after Ward's son Edward joined the firm. In 1845 Henry Payne the founder's son-in-law became a partner but died in 1850 after which the company reverted to the Ward family.
The business then concentrated on making carving tools, chisels and gouges. In 1882 David Ward's grandson David Ward Jr. (1835-1889) purchased land and built a factory at Sheffield North known as the "Limerick Wheel".
For a time Wards operated from both 106-114 West Street Sheffield and at Limbrick Road, Hillsborough on the river Loxley. By 1911 they had expanded into making spades, forks, sheep shears and many other types of edged tools including drills and wood planes. In 1967 Wilkinson Sword purchased all the company's share capital and continued to sell Ward & Payne tools until 1970 when a fire burned the factory down and housing development was built on the site.


The subject item is significant as it gives a snapshot of the technological development of sailing ships and their operation before steam-powered vessels took over around the world. Tools such as the subject item demonstrate the traditional craftsmanship and skill of the shipwright and the aesthetic quality of the timber ships designs of the time.

Physical description

Adze with wooden handle curved painted green with patent number and maker's name inscribed on inside curve of blade.

Inscriptions & markings

Inscribed "Patd 561 Ward" "2w".