Alloy Artifacts  

American Chain Company

Table of Contents

Introduction

The American Chain Company began as a maker of automobile tire chains and grew to become the largest maker of chain and cable.


Company History

The American Chain Company was founded in 1912 by Walter B. Lashar and operated in Bridgeport, Connecticut as a maker of chain for automobile tire chains and other applications.

The American Chain Company was closely associated with the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company, also of Bridgeport. We found background history on the two companies published beginning on page 768 [External Link] of the 1936 Volume 34 of U.S. Board of Tax Appeals Reports, with additional information on page 164 [External Link] of the 1917 History of Bridgeport and Vicinity.

In 1904 Walter B. Lashar was associated with the Bridgeport Chain Company and observed that one of their customers, Harry D. Weed, was purchasing large quantities of chain. Upon investigation, Lashar learned that Weed was using the chain to make anti-skid tire chains for automobiles, which he sold as Weed's Chain Tire Grip. Weed had received patent 768,495 in August of 1904 for his tire chain design.

[1904 Ad for Weed's Chain Tire Grip]
Fig. 1. 1904 Ad for Weed's Chain Tire Grip. [External Link]

Fig. 1 shows an ad for Weed's Chain Tire Grip, as published on page 329 of the September 28, 1904 issue of The Horseless Age.

The text notes the proprietor as H.D. Weed, with an address at 106 Pearl Street in Canastota, New York.

Seeing a business opportunity, Lashar acquired an exclusive license to the patent from Weed and by November of 1904 had formed the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company, with an office in New York City and a factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

With a new office and factory ready, H.D. Weed moved his tire chain business to the new quarters.

[1904 Notice for Weed Chain Tire Grip Company]
Fig. 2. 1904 Notice for Weed Chain Tire Grip Company. [External Link]

Fig. 2 shows a notice for H.D. Weed's move to the new location, as published on page 208 of the December 1, 1904 issue of the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.

The text notes that H.D. Weed had moved his business from Canastota, New York to 28 Moore Street in New York City, with a new factory located in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In researching the founding of the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company, we haven't found a public document noting its formation, but the November 1904 time frame is consistent with the move of H.D. Weed's business.

[1905 Ad for Weed Chain Tire Grip Company]
Fig. 3. 1905 Ad for Weed Chain Tire Grip Company. [External Link]

Fig. 3 shows an early ad for the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company, as published on page 1075 of the January 14, 1905 issue of Automobile Topics.

The illustration shows one of the cross-chains used by a set of tire chains.


A Tire Chain Monopoly

In addition to holding a license to H.D. Weed's patent 768,495, the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company later acquired a license to the 1903 Parsons patent 723,299 for a similar design for tire chains.

The protection from these two patents gave the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company a virtual monopoly on making non-skid tire chains, and the company successfully defended its position with patent infringement lawsuits against would-be competitors.

[1910 Notice of Injunctions]
Fig. 4. 1910 Notice of Injunctions. [External Link]

Fig. 4 shows a notice of injunctions against competitors, as published on page 25 of the July 7, 1910 issue of The Motor World.

The text notes a recent victory over the Excelsior Supply Company and Motor Appliances Company, with plans to follow up with preliminary injunctions against other competitors.


The Formation of the American Chain Company

In 1912 the American Chain Company was formed to produce chain for the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company, with the latter company holding all of the common stock of the former. The formation of American Chain was based on the purchase of the chain business of the Oneida Community in Oneida, New York and the Cleveland Wire Goods Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

By 1915 Lashar had acquired all of the stock of the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company, and in December of 1915 Lashar acquired all of the assets of the Weed company at book value.

Tire Chain Accessories

In addition to producing tire chains, the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company also made accessories such as chain repair pliers and jacks.

[1915 Notice for Weed Chain Repair Pliers]
Fig. 5. 1915 Notice for Weed Chain Repair Pliers. [External Link]

Fig. 5 shows a notice for Weed chain repair pliers, as published on page 32 of the March, 1915 issue of The Accessory and Garage Journal.

The illustration shows the operation of the pliers for opening and closing the hooks securing the cross chains.

The July 29, 1913 patent date below the illustration for the tire chain pliers refers to patent 1,069,041, filed by F.A. Strong in early 1913 and issued on the noted date.

In later years a number of other companies made tire chain repair pliers, and examples can be found in the site index under "Pliers, Chain Repair".


Consolidation of Operations

In January of 1916 the American Chain Company subsumed its former parent in order to consolidate the manufacturing and sales operations. American Chain continued to use the "Weed" brand for its tire chain products.

[1916 Notice for Weed Chain Tire Grip]
Fig. 6. 1916 Notice for Weed Chain Tire Grip Company. [External Link]

Fig. 6 shows a notice of the consolidation of the two companies, as published on page 97 of the February 1, 1916 issue of the Automobile Trade Journal.

Shortly after the merger of operations, American Chain acquired the Parsons Non-Skid Company of London, England, the owner of the Parsons patent for tire chains.

In December of 1916 American Chain acquired the Standard Chain Company of Pittsburgh, which owned seven factories.

With these acquisitions American Chain became the world's largest chain manufacturer, with operations in the United States, Canada, and England.

[1917 Ad for American Chain Company]
Fig. 7. 1917 Ad for American Chain Company.

Fig. 7 shows a full-page ad for the American Chain Company's auto accessories, as published on page 107 of the July, 1917 edition of Hardware World.

The text notes a number of "Weed" brand products, including Weed tire chains for autos and trucks, Weed cross chain pliers, and a Weed chain jack.

The lower part of the ad shows the company's logo consisting of "ACCo" in a triangle, referred to as the ACCo-Triangle logo in the text here.

Some of our readers might be surprised that tire chains were being used so extensively in the early years of the auto industry. We think this is due to several factors, beginning with the relatively narrow tires on early automobiles.

In addition, the lack of snow plowing services would have made driving after a snow storm nearly impossible without chains.

A further complication for drivers was the prevalence of unpaved roads outside of major cities. Some roads quickly turned to mud after a rain, making tire chains a necessity even during the summer.


Later Operations

By 1926 American Chain had acquired 93% of the stock of the American Cable Company, and by the mid 1930s the company had changed its name to the American Chain & Cable Company.


Patents

American Chain Company: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
723,299 H. Parsons12/17/190203/24/1903 Tire chains
768,495 H.D. Weed02/09/190408/23/1904 Tire chains
1,069,041 F.A. Strong01/02/191307/29/1913 Tire chain pliers
Assigned to Weed Chain Tire Grip Company
1,141,877 T.C. Luce03/25/191506/01/1915 Tire chain pliers
Assigned to American Chain Company

Trademarks

In 1921 American Chain filed an application for a trademark on "WEED", which was registered as trademark #166,334 on March 27, 1923.

[1948 ACCO Trademark for American Chain & Cable Company]
Fig. 8. 1948 "ACCO" Trademark for American Chain & Cable Company.

In later years the American Chain Company became the American Chain & Cable Company and republished trademark #373,896 for "ACCO" in stylized text.

The scan in Fig. 8 shows the 1948 republication of the trademark for "ACCO" by the American Chain & Cable Company, originally issued as trademark #373,896 on December 26, 1939.

This trademark was renewed on November 20, 1979 by Acco Industries.


American Chain Company: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
WEED 166,334 01/01/190409/14/1921 03/27/1923 Anti-skid chains
Filed by American Chain Company.
GALACCO 356,482  12/16/1937 04/26/1938 Wire rope
Filed by American Chain & Cable Company.
Serial 400,895. Published February 15, 1938.
Renewed 4-26-58.
ACCO 373,896 01/01/193807/01/1939 12/26/1939 "ACCO" in stylized text
Used for hoists, trolleys, winches, cranes, etc.
Filed by American Chain & Cable Company.
Serial 421,230. Published October 17, 1939.
Renewed November 20, 1979 by Acco Industries.
ACCO-LOC 421,787 09/07/1945  06/18/1946 Wire rope with spliced eyes.
Filed by American Chain & Cable Company.
WEED 524,392 01/01/190405/25/1948 04/25/1950 Anti-skid chains
Filed by American Chain & Cable Company.
Renewed 3-24-70.
ACCO 646,702 01/01/193809/06/1956 06/11/1957 Wire Rope
Filed by American Chain & Cable Company.
LOADEX 1,152,116 01/11/197903/23/1979 04/28/1981 Filed by Acco Industries
Published 2-3-81.

Tool Identification

Early production from the Weed Chain Tire Grip Company (up to 1915) should be marked with the "Weed" brand, but without noting the American Chain Company.

From 1916 onward tools from the American Chain Company were typically stamped with the "Weed" brand and company name.

By 1916 the American Chain was using a logo consisting of "A C Co" in a triangle, referred to as the ACCo-Triangle logo in the text. This logo was used in advertising and may be stamped on tools.


ACCo-Triangle Logo

[ACCo-Triangle Logo]
Fig. 9. ACCo-Triangle Logo.

The scan in Fig. 9 shows the "ACCo-Triangle" logo as printed in a 1916 ad.

This logo may be stamped on tools.


References and Resources

Photographs and observations of particular tools are based on items in the Alloy Artifacts Collection.

Catalog Resources


Selected Tools


Weed "Sturdy" Compound-Leverage Chain Repair Pliers

[1925 Notice for Weed Sturdy Chain Repair Pliers]
Fig. 10. 1925 Notice for Weed "Sturdy" Chain Repair Pliers. [External Link]

In 1925 American Chain introduced a new model of chain repair pliers with compound leverage, the Weed "Sturdy" pliers.

Fig. 10 shows a notice for the new pliers, as published on page 24 of the September, 1925 issue of Motor Record.

[Weed Sturdy Chain Repair Pliers]
Fig. 11. Weed "Sturdy" Chain Repair Pliers, with Insets for Marking Detail, ca. Mid 1920s.

Fig. 11 shows a pair of Weed "Sturdy" chain repair pliers, stamped "Weed Sturdy Pliers" and "Patented July 29, 1913 - June 1, 1915" on the upper handle, with "American Chain Company, Inc." and "Bridgeport, Conn. U.S.A." on the lower handle.

The overall length is 16.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The lower handle is also stamped with the ACCo-Triangle logo at the right.

The first patent date refers to the patent 1,069,041, filed by F.A. Strong on January 2, 1913.

The second date refers to patent 1,141,877, filed by T.C. Luce on March 25, 1915.

Neither of the above patents describes the elaborate compound-leverage connections used for this tool, which may have been the subject of the "Other Patents Pending" marking. The other patents (if issued) are not yet known.


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