This is an excellent kit for the Leather worker...quality tools, many of them hand forged (27)
10 Assorted pieces (See photo's)- I have no knowledge of where they were made
The tools in this kit are (Craftool Co.- Total 27)
Craftools have been made since the later 1940's. Generally speaking; the stamps produced in the early years are better tools. If you compare a collector tool made in the early "craftsmanship" days of the 1950s to one produced within the last decade or two - the difference is readily apparent. The earlier tools will generally have better knurling and chrome plating. Tool finish will be better as most tools were hand ground by a master craftsman. In fact, many of the later tools were formed by die stamping on a machine and show no evidence of hand grinding, AND: as the dies wore out many inferior tools were produced. Of course the dies were replaced from time to time and the first tools made with them will be better than the later ones. The other problem is that the later tools will have been made by a factory worker who worked for an hourly wage and may have been motivated by production and not so much quality. The earliest Craftools were made by machinists who had to meet a quality standard or Craftool would not accept the tool. In my opinion; I am not too sure Craftool even had a quality control department in the later years. In any event, Craftool Co was bought out by Tandy in the early sixties and shortly thereafter, the lineup of availible Craftools was sharply trimmed back. That is why many of the older tools will not even be found in a letter-prefix version. On the other hand, they have introduced many new tools which are not to be found in an unlettered version. A great many of the "figure carving" tools fall into this category.
A rough guideline as to age can be made from what is stamped on the handle; If it says:
1. CRAFTOOL CO - No Number-most likely made before Craftool started putting the numbers on the tools around 1950.
2. CRAFTOOL CO. - with only a number, it was made prior to 1963.
3. CRAFTOOL CO. - with a letter prefix & number it was made about 63' to 68'
4. CRAFTOOL CO. USA - with a letter and number it was made after 69'
5. CRAFTOOL USA - with a letter and number it was made more recently, and
6. CraftJapan - made very recently AND in Japan
So what happened? In the early years, Craftools were made by machinists. These machinists were readily available as the postwar years left a great supply of out-of-work machists available and many of these produced tools for Craftool among others such as RBS, Cal-Carv, etc. As the years went by these craftsman retired and the market for good leathercarving tools declined. As the Golden Era of the Westerns (movies and television) slacked off, fewer people were taking up leathercraft. Another factor was that Craftool was bought out by Tandy and the operation went from a job-lot operation to a factory type one. So for these, and other reasons, Craftools declined in quality. It reached the point by the mid-70's where most serious leathercraftsmen wouldn't order a stamping tool by mail anymore. They would wait until they were able to visit a store and select the tool from the store inventory. My best advice when buying Craftools on eBay? Buy the older pre USA tools if you can find them. Look carefully at the pictures for signs of neglect such as excessive rust and of course damage to the tool face. Be wary of bad pictures-sometimes there is a reason why they don't have a good picture.