Alloy Artifacts  

Bemis & Call Company

Table of Contents

Introduction

Bemis & Call was an early maker of tools and hardware dating back to a partnership between Stephen C. Bemis and Amos Call in the early 1840s. The company produced a variety of tools, including dividers, compasses, squares, and wrenches of various types.


Company History

Bemis & Call began as a partnership between Stephen C. Bemis and Amos Call in the early 1840s.

A biograpical essay on Stephen C. Bemis noted that in 1855 he turned over the management of the company to his son W. Chaplin Bemis and Amos Call. Fig. 1 shows an entry for the Bemis & Call Hardware and Tool Company on page 54 of Treasurer's Report, part of the 1865 Annual Reports for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

[1865 Notice for Bemis & Call]
Fig. 1. 1865 Notice for Bemis & Call. [External Link]

The text states that the Bemis & Call Hardware and Tool Company had been certified on June 5, 1855.

[1867 Ad for Bemis & Call]
Fig. 2. 1867 Ad for Bemis & Call. [External Link]

Fig. 2 shows an ad for the Bemis & Call Hardware and Tool Company, as published on page 180 of the August, 1867 issue of Once A Month.

The text notes that the company produced goods previously made by S.C. Bemis, showing the continuity of the business.

[1893 Ad for Bemis & Call]
Fig. 3. 1893 Ad for Bemis & Call Pipe and Nut Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 3 shows an ad for a Bemis & Call pipe and nut wrench, as published on page 97 of the April 27, 1893 issue of The Iron Age.


Adjustable "S" Wrenches

In later years B&C became especially well known for their "S"-shaped adjustable wrenches. The sliding jaw design was very similar to the 1857 E.J. Worcester patent 17,531, with a slotted jaw running in a rectangular keyed passageway. The line of adjustable "S" wrenches was introduced in 1894 and proved to be very popular.

[1895 Ad for Bemis & Call Adjustable Wrench]
Fig. 3B. 1895 Ad for Bemis & Call Adjustable "S" Wrench.

The scan in Fig. 3B shows a catalog listing for B&C adjustable "S" wrenches, as published on page 51 of the 1895 Strelinger catalog.

The wrenches were available in sizes 8, 10, 12, and 14 inches.

[1907 Ad for Bemis & Call Wrenches]
Fig. 4. 1907 Ad for Bemis & Call Wrenches. [External Link]

Fig. 4 shows an ad for Bemis & Call wrenches, as published on page 2 of the August, 1907 edition of Machinery.

The illustration shows a new steel-handled monkey wrench as well as the No. 48 adjustable "S" wrench.


No. 80 Adjustable Wrench

[1915 Notice for Bemis & Call No. 80 Adjustable Wrench]
Fig. 5A. 1915 Notice for Bemis & Call No. 80 Adjustable Wrench. [External Link]

In 1915 Bemis & Call began offering a Crescent-style adjustable wrench designated as model No. 80.

Fig. 5A shows a notice for the new wrench model, as published on page 27 of the November 6, 1915 issue of American Artisan and Hardware Record.

[1916 Ad for Bemis & Call No. 80 Adjustable Wrench]
Fig. 5B. 1916 Ad for Bemis & Call No. 80 Adjustable Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 5B shows an ad for the Bemis & Call No. 80 adjustable wrench, as published on page 136 of the August, 1916 issue of National Hardware Bulletin.

The illustration identifies this as a No. 80 adjustable wrench. An example of this model can be seen as the B&C No. 80 8 Inch Adjustable Wrench in a later figure.


Later Operations

In 1928 Bemis & Call acquired the rights to the wrench designs of the Coes Wrench Company, a well-known maker of adjustable wrenches operating in Worcester, Massachusetts.

In 1939 B&C was acquired by Billings & Spencer, which continued production of the B&C (and Coes) wrench models for some years thereafter. (See our article on Billings & Spencer for more information.)


Patents

Bemis & Call: Issued Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
145,085 W.C. Bemis04/21/187312/02/1873Adjustable wrench
317,923 A. Call09/25/188405/12/1885Pipe and Nut Adjustable wrench
317,924 A. Call10/13/188405/12/1885Pipe and Nut Adjustable wrench
501,860 W.S. Bemis05/08/189307/18/1893Pipe and monkey wrench

Trademarks

Bemis & Call: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
B&C 73,931   01/30/1909 06/01/1909 For wrenches.
Serial 40,250. Published 03/30/1909.
Renewed 06/01/1929.

References and Resources

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

Currently we do not have any catalogs for Bemis & Call.

Industrial Distributors

Bemis & Call tools were widely available from industrial distributors.


Selected Tools


B&C 6 Inch S-Shaped Adjustable Wrench

[B&C 6 Inch S-Shaped Adjustable Wrench]
Fig. 6. B&C 6 Inch S-Shaped Adjustable Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 6 shows our first example of the B&C "S" wrenches, a B&C 6 inch adjustable wrench, marked with "6-In" forged into the handle, and with "B&C" forged into the reverse (see lower inset). The face is stamped "Bemis & Call Company" and "Springfield" (see middle inset), although the markings are very worn and difficult to read.

The overall length is 6.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel with traces of black paint.

The upper inset shows a profile view of the wrench. Note the details of the jaw construction, with the milled slot in the jaw running in the keyed opening.


B&C 8 Inch S-Shaped Adjustable Wrench

[B&C 8 Inch S-Shaped Adjustable Wrench]
Fig. 7. B&C 8 Inch S-Shaped Adjustable Wrench, with Inset for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 7 shows a B&C 8 inch S-shaped adjustable wrench, stamped "Bemis & Call Co." on the face. The nominal size "8 In." is forged into the handle, with "B&C" forged into the reverse (see lower inset).

The overall length is 8.0 inches, and the finish is black paint with polished steel faces.

The upper inset shows a profile view of the wrench. Note the details of the jaw construction, with the milled slot in the jaw running in the keyed opening.


B&C 10 Inch S-Shaped Adjustable Wrench

[B&C 10 Inch S-Shaped Adjustable Wrench]
Fig. 8. B&C 10 Inch S-Shaped Adjustable Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 8 shows a B&C 10 inch S-shaped adjustable wrench, marked with the nominal size "10 In" forged into the handle, with "B&C" forged into the reverse (see lower inset).

The overall length is 10.1 inches, and the finish is black paint.


B&C No. 80 8 Inch Adjustable Wrench

[B&C No. 80 8 Inch Adjustable Wrench]
Fig. 9. B&C No. 80 8 Inch Adjustable Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1915 to 1920s.

Fig. 9 shows a B&C No. 80 8 inch adjustable wrench, marked with "B&C" forged into the shank, with "8 IN" and "No 80" forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 8.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


B&C 10 Inch Monkey Wrench for Fulton Brand

[Fulton AD 10 Inch Monkey Wrench]
Fig. 10. B&C 10 Inch Monkey Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1920s to 1930s.

Fig. 10 shows a B&C 10 inch monkey wrench with wooden handle inserts, stamped with the B&C trademark logo on the upper (fixed) jaw, with "Bemis & Call Co." and "Springfield, Mass. Made in U.S.A." on the reverse. The wrench is also stamped with "Fulton" and "AD" on the lower jaw, indicating that it was made as contract production for Sears Roebuck.

The overall length is 10.3 inches, and the maximum opening approximately 2 inches. The finish is plain steel.


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