Historical fretwork catalogues, books, magazines and documents



  In this section I am sharing with you some very old fretwork catalogues, books and historical documents. The information I have about the companies making these brochures is very limited, so if you can provide more information please contact me. Also contact me if you have original patterns from these catalogues. Remember that once into the catalogues you can click any page to see it larger..


1. Pietro Barelli catalogues, Milan, Italy, 1906

Pietro Barelli founded his business in Corso Venezia, 15, Milan, Italy, in 1852. I know nothing about how he started but after some years his shop was a very well-known business dedicated to scroll saw, pirography, sculpture, painting, metalwork, leatherwork,  magic, instructive games and other hobbies. After January 1878 he published a collection of scroll saw patterns called ¨Il traforatore italiano¨ (The Italian fretworker). The patterns in this collection were designed by Arturo Fumel, and were exported to different countries.

  Fretwork was a very popular hobby at the turn of the XX century, in fact those were the golden days of the hobby, patterns were produced and sold in great numbers and quality, not only in Italy, but in many western countries. On page 6 of this brochure we can read the following: ¨We always have the whole collection of patterns available, because the patterns are constantly reprinted. Many of these designs have reached 65 editions in a short time (65,000 copies). The number of patterns sold  until december 1905 is 5,932,400.¨

Throughout the years Pietro Barelli published several catalogues including the fretwork tools for sale in his shop and the huge collection of fretwork patterns available. Here we show two of these brochures, published in 1906. The second catalogue is the continuation of the first. If you browse these brochures you will agree with me that it is difficult to describe these designs with words, they are simply mind-boggling. The imagination of Arturo Fumel, his capacity to innovate, to surprise and his technical skills to ornament his creations make him a complete artist.

 Presently it is very difficult to find original patterns from this collection. I have been able to find only a small number of them, which are now restored and for sale in the section of patterns for sale. I am afraid most of them are lost for ever. If you own some please contact me. Also contact me if you can provide more information about Pietro Barelli or Arturo Fumel, the shop, how and when it came to and end, etc, any information about this will be appreciated.

 The first catalogue includes the first part of the collection and the second catalogue includes the second part of the collection.

 Click here to browse the first catalogue

 Click here to browse the second catalogue



2. Hobbies fretwork catalogue, England, 1912

 In October of 1895 Hobbies issued the first number of the weekly Hobbies magazine. This was a magazine devoted mainly to fretwork, also including articles about hobbies as diverse as stamp collecting, bent iron work, magic, cycling, football and many others. Every issue included a foldout sheet with a fretwork pattern. Throughout the time Hobbies patterns improved in originality and quality. Hobbies also issued several catalogues with the full offer of fretwork tools and a selection of their best patterns.

 The catalogue we offer here is from 1912, at this time Hobbies had an impressive collection of fretwork patterns, clocks, coffers, shelves and many other decorative items, many of them masterpieces of design. The style of these designs is sober, discreet and vey elegant. Some designs remind us of the arts and crafts school, whilst others show a clear influence of the Indian decoration, something typical of the Victorian period.

 At the beginning of the XX century fretwork was a very popular Hobby in England, so Hobbies sold many copies of the magazine, hundreds of thousand for sure, maybe millions. These patterns have been preserved better than the collections from other countries, so today we can offer many of them and from time to time we find even more. If you have some of these patterns I would like to hear from you. You can contact me at info@finescrollsaw.com

 Click here to browse this catalogue


3. Bowman's (c. 1880), Russell's (c. 1880) and Wild's (1893) scroll saw patterns catalogues, USA.

 Willian J. Wild is one of the best well-known scroll saw designers in the USA. He founded his business in New York in 1876 and produced some of the most remarkable scroll saw designs in the USA. Later on Wild acquired the designs of two other scroll saw companies, Bowman's and Russell's, making the best scroll saw designs collection of patterns for sale in the USA. Here we are showing Bowman's, Russell's and Wilds's catalogues when they were still independent companies, around 1880. Some of the designs are of very remarkable artistic quality, elegant, proportioned and evocative.

 Click here to browse this catalogue



4. Amati's scroll saw patterns catalogue, Torino, Italy, c. 1920.

Carlo Amati founded his scroll saw fretwork patterns company in Torino, Italy, in 1879. Little by little his collection of designs grew to become one of the largest collections in Europe. This catalogue is from around 1920 and contains the whole collection of patterns his company had for sale at the time. In my opinion these designs do not have the unsurpassed artistic quality of the best produced by Arturo Fumel for Pietro Barelli, but quite a few of them get quite close in originality and beauty. 

The preface to the catalogue reads (translated from Italian): ¨Scroll saw art is already 72 years old and continues to be appreciated and chosen by lovers of beauty. It is also valued today as the best pastime, for it combines pleasure, elegance and ease. On hot summer days, and in the long winter evenings, scroll saw provides a special satisfaction, more than any other hobby. So the soldier in the barracks, the sailor on board the ship, the religious in the monastery and the family in the city, they all find in scroll saw the way to spend their leisure time with pleasure. And all this appreciation for the art of fretwork is evidenced by the increasing growth of my business. The worldwide faithful and devoted clientele have me fully convinced that the treatment given so far to my respected clients, which are the same that make good publicity to my business, is such that if we keep it, we will always have their best confidence and consideration. Exporting proves that my designs are well received abroad. It will always be my concern to work to maintain L'Arte del traforo torinese the richest and most elegant magazine in its genre. The reward is the clientele acquired without much need for ads, proof that my business is able to serve all orders with both product quality and in due time. ¨

Click here to browse this catalogue


5. Ettore Ferrari's fretwork patterns catalogue, Milano, Italy, 1934.

 This collection of patterns was started around 1865 in Milano, Italy.  The collection changed name several times as the company changed hands over time. In 1897 it was under the company A. Nava & C. and the collection was named Il nuovo traforatore Italiano (The new Italian fretworker). Some time after the turn of the XXth century it was under Ettore Ferrari's company and the collection was named Il nuovo traforatore artistico (The new artistic fretworker).

The patterns in this collection reach stunning levels of sophistication and refinement. The beautiful designs, the subtle use of elegant shapes and proportions prove undoubtedly that the designers of these artworks were masters of the XIX century ornamentation techniques. Click here to browse this catalogue


6. Joubert-Tiersot fretwork patterns catalogue, Paris, France, 1924.

  This series of fretwork designs was founded in 1865 by A. Tiersot. The name changed to Joubert-Tiersot some time later. The offices were located at 35, Avenue de la République in Paris, France, and the patterns were sold by E. Jacquot, at 30, rue Turbigo, also in Paris. The collection grew to become the best in France, with a large number of very artistic designs.

 The catalogue presented here is the 15th edition, and dates back to 1924. This catalogue includes most of the patterns that appeared under this firm.

Click here to browse this catalogue


7. Hofmann & Schmitt fretwork patterns catalogue, Limburgerhof, Germany, c. 1938.

 This collection of patterns was published in Limburgerhoff, Germany, around 1938. The variety of styles in the patterns is obvious, this collection seems to be composed by patterns of different origins. Among others the patterns of the old German collection of Mey & Widmayer in Munich, undoubtedly the most beautiful fretwork designs ever produced in Germany. Many of the patterns here are of the best artistic quality, especially those dating back to the XIX century. Some others are of questionable good taste, like the lamps containing portraits of nazi leaders.

Click here to browse this catalogue


8. J. N. Jacques fretwork catalogue, Liège, Belgium, 1924

 The firm J. N. Jacques was established at the end of the XIX century. It was based in rue Souverain Pont, 35, Liège, Belgium. They offered everything necessary for the scroll saw hobby, including a large selection of woods and patterns. This catalogue from 1924 includes the large collection of fretwork patterns they had for sale at the time.

Click here to browse this catalogue


9. L. Chonet fretwork catalogue, Brioude, France, c. 1920

 The firm L. Chonet was established in 1862 in Brioude (Haute-Loire), France. It offered everything necessary for the  fretwork in wood and metal. This is the sixth edition of their catalogue of patterns..

Click here to browse this catalogue


10. Fretwork and Marquetry, D. Denning, 1895

  In 1895, just in the middle of the golden time of scroll saw, D. Denning published a book titled ¨Fretwork and Marquetry¨.  In this book Denning explains everything related to fretwork, Marquetry, inlaying, overlaying, scroll saw machines, blades, patterns, etc.

   This book is 110 years old. It was published in London 6 years before queen Victoria's death. It is a historical legate that any scroll saw lover will appreciate and enjoy. Furthermore, even though many techniques explained in it are obsolete one will find that it is still possible to learn from many of the sections of the book. Reading it is a pleasure, for you will feel taken back to a fascinating time in which in spite of the technical limitations some artists were able to create master scroll saw designs and works that have remained unequaled for more than a century.

  In these pages I am sharing the whole book with you. Every illustration in the book has been respected and left in its place.  Some pages containing only adds and the long list of books in the same collection have been removed.


old brown cover book about fretwork and marquetry

11. Sorrento and Inlaid work, Arthur Hope, 1876

  In 1876, Arthur Hope published ¨Sorrento and Inlaid work¨. This is one of the first scroll saw books to appear in the United States.  In this book Hope makes an introduction to marquetry and inlaying.  The book was published just a few years after the introduction of the newly invented treadle scroll saw machines, which were revolutionary and transformed scroll sawing into a hobby of masses. Hope gives us an attractive glimpse of that time in the preface of the book:

 ¨It is now twenty years since the author of this book began his first rude attempts at scroll-sawing, with a roughly whittled saw-frame, fitted with a blade made from a watch-spring, its teeth, few and far between, unevenly and laboriously cut with a common file. Since then he has watched the growth of the art in this country, stimulated by the introduction of curious and beautiful articles of fret-cutting from Germany, and inlaid work from France and Italy, and the gradual improvement in hand­saw frames, and blades of wondrous delicacy. Within the past four years, aided much by the invention of treadle machines of great simplicity and beauty, a scroll-sawing fever has swept over the country, absorbing the attention of the young and old. It would perhaps be impossible to name a village, however small, where the fever had not made its appearance. In many of our large cities scroll-sawing is taught by experienced instructors, either in classes or in private lessons.¨

   Sorrento is an Italian city with a very old tradition of inlay works of remarkable quality and beauty. If you would like to learn more about it and to admire the works they produce you can visit: http://www.giottoline.com/

 The book contains several patterns also included in this presentation, though the resolution is low to limit the size of files.

old green cover book about sorrento and inlaid work

  Go to pages:

0 - 40

41- 63 (plates)


12. Hobbies fretworkers' weekly, special coronation number, may 20th 1911

   Started in 1895 ¨¨Hobbies, the fretworkers' weekly¨ soon became one of the most widely distributed crafts magazines in the UK. The magazine presented articles on different crafts and leisure time topics, but was mainly focused in fretwork. Between 1895 and well into the XX century Hobbies published weekly some of the most beautiful scroll saw fretwork patterns ever conceived. These designs were not so wildly ornamented as the Italian ones, but they were always very elegant and appealing.

 On may 20th 1911 Hobbies issued a special number on the occasion of the coronation of king George V. As a historical curiosity I am publishing here this number entirely, including all articles, even those not related to fretwork, the special coronation postcard and the two scroll saw patterns it contained as foldouts. The patterns are definitely not among the best of Hobbies, but they are still interesting and you can use them to practice and improve your skills. These patterns are offered as they were published, scanned and without any kind of restoration. 

 Click here to read this magazine and to get the free patterns it contains.


Site Map

General: Home - Scroll saw examples - Free patterns 1 - Free patterns 2 - Free patterns 3 - Patterns for saleHistorical books - Shopping recommendations - Hegner review - Questions and answers - Links Scroll saw tutorials:   Medusa box - Security box - Egg clock - Eiffel Tower - Sun clock - Washington box

This site uses the cookies Doubleclick, Statcounter and Google Adsense to improve the user experience. You can delete these and all other cookies or to block its use from the options menu of your browser. Cookies are harmless text files used by all web sites.