Nicholson Files - A window into the future and past.

More interestingness from 1927 again, you bastards! Here's what they thought an airliner would look like.

Nicholson files are very much still in business. I have some in my shop, inherited from my dad. They're the best, pretty much. In this ad, Nicholson wants you to know that filing stuff won't be obsolete in The Future.

Yes, things will always need to be made smoother than they were before, and in whatever crazy future-world we wind up living in, Nicholson will be there to help you ensmoothen things. Shew. I was worried. "What of my jagged future-pieces, Nicholson?" I would shout. "Will you be there to help me de-burr, shape, and smoothen various objects in some unimaginable dystopian future when airships have umbrellas on them?" I would finish shouting.

Yes, the Nicholson File Co. of 1927 wanted us to be reassured of their continued file manufacture. And, to help you imagine such a crazy, smooth future, they've included a crystal ball vision of transatlantic flight. See?

Don't laugh too hard. if someone sat you down with some papyrus and a stick of charcoal and asked you to draw a teleportation device, you'd probably start with a phone booth and add some cones with rings around them. It would look about as goofy as this bird-fish-umbrella-mobile. A transatlantic flight HAD been successful as early as 1919, but the idea of commercial flights across the pond were still the stuff of dreams in '27. So, can we forgive the Nicholson File Co. for the goofiness of their silly drawing while simultaneously laughing at it? You bet.

Funny thing about files. I have one (possibly a Nicholson) that says "bastard" on it. So why's that? I had always suspected that it was related to the fact that there was a type of sword that was called a "bastard sword". I figured that files and swords are kind of similar. Maybe it was something to do with forging?

Wrong. The word "bastard" on it's own can mean "of abnormal or irregular size" (definition 7 in the link). This is how it came to mean "a child of irregular parentage". Back to files now. There are generally three grades of file coarseness. I say "generally" because you can geek out all day on files, but we're talking in generalities here. The three types are coarse, fine and an in-between one called a "bastard" cut. Here, "bastard" is used to describe the not-quite-rough-and-not-quite-smooth cut of the file. See?

As far as swords go, the usage is kind of similar. Swords are either long swords (like a knight would use - about 4 feet long) short swords (like a roman soldier would carry - about two feet long) and a neither-of-those lengths length, dun dun dunnnnnnn!... a "bastard sword". It just means "irregular" or "not like the others", or "not your typical length". It has nothing to do with what you shout at guys right before you hit them with it. There will be plenty of shouting and lots of swears in any sword battle, regardless of how long your sword is. Eventually, the term "bastard sword" came to be used for swords that were frikkin huge - like five feet long and twenty-five-ish pounds. Any guy running at you with one of those probably knows how you feel about him already. So, swearing was optional.

Click for big.


Steve Miller said...

It's garage sale season in earnest, and I bought about two dozen files -- predominantly Nicholson -- from some old(er) geezer for two bucks. Didn't need 'em (I too have Dad's hand-me-downs) but how can you pass up a bargain like that?

At heart, part of me is still eight years old, and still easily amused by "bastard" files. Thanks for researching the definition!

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

I am jealous of your Nicholson file garage sale score. Well scored!

Over the weekend, while sharpening my lawnmower blade, I found myself wanting a selection of half-round files in a range of diameters and tooths (coarseness?). I have only one or two, and they're pretty rough - like you'd use on wood. My mower blade has a contour to it, and I need some roundies to get in there and sharpen the inside corner of the bend. Ah well.


Steve Miller said...

Dremel tool with the blade sharpening attachment will work just fine. Didn't you need an excuse to buy a power tool?

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