Alloy Artifacts  

Guthard, Edgar C. Company ("Billmont")

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Edgar C. Guthard Company was the maker of a well-regarded line of "Billmont" tools.


Guthard, Edgar C. Company

The Edgar C. Guthard Company was founded by the eponymous Edgar C. Guthard in Chicago and had begun operations by 1919. The company offered a well-regarded line of socket sets under the "Billmont" brand, including a distinctive angled driver based on the 1919 Fullenwider patent 1,310,473.

Prior to founding the company, Guthard was the owner of the Northwestern Auto Supply Company in Billings, Montana. (The Billings location presumably gave rise to the "Billmont" name.)

[1919 Notice for Edgar C. Guthard Company]
Fig. 1. 1919 Notice for Edgar C. Guthard Company. [External Link]

The notice in Fig. 1 was published on page 104 of the October 1919 issue of Motor Record and states that E.C. Guthard had sold his interest in the Northwestern Auto operations to his father, presumably to concentrate on the Chicago business.

[1920 Advertisement for Billmont Master Wrench Set]
Fig. 2. 1920 Advertisement for Billmont Master Wrench Set. [External Link]

The company's products were carried by a number of industrial distributors, and the company also placed advertisements in various publications of the time. For example, the advertisement in Fig. 2 appeared on page 148 of the May 1920 issue of Pacific Ports. The illustration shows the Billmont "Master Wrench" socket set, a collection of hex and square sockets with the distinctive patented angled driver handle. The text gives the company's address as 361 East Ohio Street in Chicago.

Interestingly, the East Ohio Street address is the same as the address used by Duro Metal Products at that time. This raises the possibility that Duro Metal might have provided contract manufacturing, although of course it's possible that both companies just rented space in the same building.

The Guthard company filed a trademark application for "Billmont" on July 9, 1919, and the trademark was issued as #130,182 on April 13, 1920. The application listed June 10, 1919 as the first use date.


3/4-Male Hex Drive

The Billmont sets were built around 3/4-male hex drive sockets, a unique and non-standard arrangement that must have been very time-consuming to manufacture. The socket blanks could be made with an automatic screw machine, but then each socket required milling to create the hexagon drive stud. (The milling marks are visible on the bottom of the larger sockets.)

Billmont did had one advantage in that its sockets were probably the strongest on the market when they came out in 1919. However, this advantage would have been somewhat neutralized by the relatively low torque that could be delivered through the angled universal driver.

Recognizing that the sockets needed stronger and more versatile drive tools, Billmont expanded its tool selection to include a ratchet, Tee handles, speeders, extensions, and other accessories. By January of 1921 Billmont was offering this expanded selection in several sets, the largest of which was a No. 500 set in a metal carrying case.

[1921 Notice for Billmont Tool Line]
Fig. 3. 1921 Notice for Billmont Tool Line. [External Link]

The notice in Fig. 3 is part of a two-page article on Billmont tools, beginning on page 48 of the January, 1921 issue of American Garage and Auto Dealer.

The illustration shows the company's No. 500 Mechanic's Kit, their largest collection of tools. The illustration shows a ratchet, two speeders, three Tee handles, an Ell handle, plus the original angled universal driver.

Note that all of the drive tools resemble socket wrenches — because they are socket wrenches! In order to drive the 3/4-male hex drive sockets, each drive tool had to terminate in a 3/4-hex socket.

[1921 Ad for Billmont Socket Sets]
Fig. 4. 1921 Ad for Billmont Socket Sets. [External Link]

Fig. 4 shows a 1921 ad for the new Billmont sets, as published on page 2 of the April, 1921 issue of Motor Age. The small illustration on the upper right shows a No. 250 set consisting of a ratchet, extension, and sockets in a wooden box. The No. 250 set had a $6.50 list price.

The illustration at the lower right shows the larger No. 400 "carrying kit", including speeders, Tee handles, an Ell handle, a screwdriver bit, and 10 sockets. This combination had a $13.25 list price.

The Billmont tools were included in the catalogs of some industrial distributors, including the 1921 catalog No. 2 from Cragin & Company and the 1922 catalog No. 11 from the C.W. Marwedel Company.

In searching for information on Billmont and the Edgar C. Guthard Company we found many published references from 1919 through 1922, but very few beyond that time period. This suggests that the company probably failed around 1923.

The Billmont No. 1 socket set was listed on page 116 of the 1924 Ford Owners' Supply Book (Eastern edition) catalog from Western Auto Supply, at a special $2.35 price. This very low price was likely a close-out sale of remaining inventory.


Patents

Edgar C. Guthard Company: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
1,310,473 G.R. Fullenwider 09/10/1918 07/22/1919 Angular Socket Wrench
1,455,147 W.J. O'Neill 10/25/1920 05/15/1923 Ratchet Wrench

Trademarks

Edgar C. Guthard Company: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes

References and Resources

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

Industrial Distributors

Billmont socket tools were available from some industrial distributors. We'll add references as time permits.


Selected Tools


Billmont No. 100 "Master Wrench" Socket Set

[1922 Catalog Listing for Billmont Master Wrench Set]
Fig. 5. 1922 Catalog Listing for Billmont "Master Wrench" Sets.

The scan in Fig. 5 shows a catalog listing for the various Billmont "Master Wrench" sets, as published on page 302 of the Marwedel catalog No. 11 from 1922.

Several sets or collections were available, beginning with No. 0 for the "Master Wrench" only, priced at $8.00.

The selection continued with the No. 1 set, which included the "Master Wrench" handle and five sockets in a wooden box for a $10.50 price.

The largest selection shown was the No. 100 set, which included the "Master Wrench" handle and 24 sockets, all contained in a wooden box with an insert to organize the sockets. The No. 100 set was available for a $20.50 price.

The set of 24 sockets in the wooden box could also be purchased separately (without the handle) as a No. 300 set.

[Billmont No. 100 Master Wrench Set]
Fig. 6. Billmont No. 100 Master Wrench Set, ca. 1919 to Early 1920s.

Fig. 6 shows a Billmont No. 100 "Master Wrench" socket set in its wooden box, consisting of an angled driver, a cross-bar, 17 hex sockets from 3/8 to 31/32, and seven square sockets from 7/16 to 3/4.

The set is marked with a label on the inside of the lid, with text at the top reading "Billmont Master Wrench" and "The Wrench That Spins 'em Off", with "Edgar C. Guthard Co." and "Chicago, U.S.A." at the bottom.

The hex sockets in the front row have sizes, from the right, 3/8, 13/32, 7/16, 15/32, 1/2, 17/32, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 21/32, 11/16, 3/4, and 25/32. The back row continues from the left with hex sockets 13/16, 7/8, 15/16, and 31/32, followed by square sockets 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, and 3/4. The sockets are marked only with the fractional size stamped on the drive tang. The finish is plain steel.

The set as shown also includes a 1/2-drive adapter visible at the lower right. This was an optional accessory available from Billmont to allow use of standard 1/2-drive sockets.

The dimensions of the wooden box are 16.6 inches wide by 6.1 inches deep by 2.0 inches high.

As noted in the discussion above, the sockets in the set all have 3/4 inch hexagonal drive tangs. The smaller sockets (those 1/2 inch or less) may have been turned from 3/4 hexagonal bar stock, but the majority of the sockets would have started from larger diameter bars, and the drive tangs then had to be cut by some sort of milling process.

Apart from the drive tangs, the service end of the sockets exhibits the standard cold-broached construction of that time. The openings were drilled out and then a groove cut below the intended broaching, to allow for chip removal.


Billmont "Master" Tee-Handle Driver Wrench

[Billmont Tee-Handle Driver Wrench]
Fig. 7. Billmont "Master" Tee-Handle Driver Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1919 to Early 1920s.

Fig. 7 shows the Billmont "Master" Tee-handle driver from the socket set, marked on the end cap with "Billmont Master Wrench" and "Patented" at the top, with "Mfd. By Edgar C. Guthard Co." and "Patents Pending" at the bottom.

The overall length is 13.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The patent notice refers to patent 1,310,473, filed in 1918 by G.R. Fullenwider and issued in 1919.


Billmont 3/4-Hex Drive No. 8 Ratchet

By 1921 Billmont was offering a ratchet for their growing collection of tools.

[1921 Catalog Listing for Billmont No. 8 Ratchet]
Fig. 8. 1921 Catalog Listing for Billmont No. 8 Ratchet.

The scan in Fig. 8 shows a listing for the Billmont No. 8 ratchet and two extensions, as published on page 218 of the 1921 catalog No. 2 from Cragin & Company of Seattle.

The ratchet had a 3/4 inch hexagon opening to fit the Billmont sockets directly, or it could be used with the 6 or 11 inch extensions.

Other pages of the same catalog listed a No. 200 "Garage Set" with two speeders, two Tee handles, and an Ell handle, as well as the older Billmont "Master Wrench" set. The No. 500 Mechanic's Kit was apparently not yet available when the catalog was being prepared.

[Billmont 3/4-Hex Drive No. 8 Ratchet]
Fig. 9. Billmont 3/4-Hex Drive No. 8 Ratchet, with Insets for Reverse and Marking Detail, ca. Early 1920s.

Fig. 9 shows a rare Billmont 3/4-hex drive No. 8 ratchet, marked with "Billmont" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the front, with "Edgar C. Guthard Co." and "Chicago" forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 11.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The ratchet is also marked with a forge mark resembling two "S" letters joined at right angles, seen as a close-up in the middle inset.

Although not marked with a patent notice, the ratchet is covered by patent 1,455,147, filed by W.J. O'Neill in 1920 and issued in 1923, with assignment to Edgar C. Guthard.

This ratchet has a very fine action and very low backdrag, both desirable features for any ratchet but remarkable in a ratchet from the early 1920s. Since the ratchet is permanently sealed (unless the flush rivets are drilled out), we couldn't open it for examination and instead turned to the patent illustration to understand the operation.


Billmont No. 500 "Mechanic's Kit" Socket Set

[1922 Catalog Listing for Billmont No. 500 Mechanic's Kit]
Fig. 10. 1922 Catalog Listing for Billmont No. 500 Mechanic's Kit.

The scan in Fig. 10 shows a full-page display for the Billmont No. 500 Mechanic's Kit set, as published on page 303 of the Marwedel catalog No. 11 for 1922.

We have a Billmont No. 500 set and are preparing it for display.


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