Alloy Artifacts  

Van-Chrome and Alloy Steel Tools

In 1929 Herbrand filed a registration for the "Van-Chrome" trademark, with the first use date listed as 1919. Currently we haven't found any catalogs or advertisements to verify this date, but if true the 1919 date would make it the earliest known trademark denoting alloy steel in hand tools.

Herbrand's first alloy-steel tools were probably tappet wrenches, as these tools exposed the inadequacy of carbon-steel for this application.


Early "Vanadium Motor Tappet" Wrenches

Tappet wrenches were one of the earliest tools to employ alloy steels, as the thin profile of the wrench demanded the strongest possible steel. As was the case with other tool companies, tappet wrenches were Herbrand's first alloy steel tools, and the company was offering a line of "Vanadium Motor Tappet" wrenches by the early 1920s or before. These early tappet wrenches had "Vanadium Motor Tappet" forged into the shank and are presumed to have been made of vanadium (or chrome vanadium) steel.

In their later 1929 trademark application for "Van-Chrome", Herbrand listed 1919 as the first use date, which was probably a reference to the "Vanadium Motor Tappet" series. Although we haven't found any published references to verify the 1919 date, we have managed to push the date back to 1923, as the next figure will show.

[1923 Ad for Herbrand Van-Chrome Tappet Wrenches]
Fig. 56. 1923 Ad for Herbrand "Van-Chrome" Tappet Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 56 was published on page 99 of the December, 1923 issue of the Journal of the Society of Automotive Engineers and shows an ad for Herbrand "Van Chrome" tappet wrenches. The illustration shows the No. 1170 tappet wrench set in a tool roll.

This is currently the earliest public reference we've found for "Van Chrome", although at that time the tools were probably marked "Vanadium Motor Tappet".

If any of our readers have seen an earlier reference to "Van-Chrome" or "Vanadium Motor Tappet", we'd like to hear about it ... the "Earliest Van-Chrome" challenge is on!

Herbrand's earliest tappet wrenches were marked with "Vanadium Motor Tappet" forged into the shank, with the Herbrand script logo possibly stamped on the shank. These were offered in models H-1 to H-4, although the model numbers were not always marked. Herbrand is the only company known to have used these model numbers for tappet wrenches, making it possible to identify them in otherwise anonymous catalog listings.

The second generation of tappet wrenches was marked with "Vanadium" and "Tappet" stamped on the shank, with the Herbrand script logo in between. The model numbers remained the same.

The 1924 Beckley-Ralston catalog gave the sizes for the four models as H-1 (7/16x1/2), H-2 (1/2x9/16), H-3 (5/8x11/16), and H-4 (3/4x7/8). Later Herbrand catalogs from the 1930s list the H-1 model openings as 7/16x17/32, with the other models at the previous sizes. Note though that these specifications may not apply to the earliest production.


Early "Vanadium Motor Tappet" H-1 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench

We'll begin this section with some examples of early "Vanadium Motor Tappet" wrenches.

[Early Herbrand Vanadium Motor Tappet H-1 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 57. Early Herbrand "Vanadium Motor Tappet" H-1 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Early 1920s.

Fig. 57 shows an early Herbrand H-1 7/16x1/2 tappet wrench, marked with "Vanadium Motor Tappet" forged into the shank, and stamped with the Herbrand script logo and "Fremont, O. U.S.A." at the left. The faces are stamped with the fractional sizes, with the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Early "Vanadium Motor Tappet" [H-2] 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench

[Early Herbrand Vanadium Motor Tappet H-2 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 58. Early [Herbrand] "Vanadium Motor Tappet" [H-2] 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench, ca. Early 1920s.

Fig. 58 shows an early Herbrand "Vanadium Motor Tappet" [H-2] 9/16x5/8 tappet wrench, marked with "Vanadium Motor Tappet" forged into the shank, and with the fractional sizes stamped on the faces.

The overall length is 7.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This wrench is not marked with the Herbrand name and has different opening sizes than the closest standard (H-2) model, suggesting that it may have been made as contract production.


H-1 "Vanadium Tappet" 7/16x17/32 Tappet Wrench

In later production the "Vanadium Motor Tappet" marking was replaced by "Vanadium" and "Tappet", with the Herbrand script logo in between.

[Herbrand H-1 7/16x17/32 Vanadium Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 59. Herbrand H-1 7/16x17/32 Vanadium Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1920s.

Fig. 59 shows a Herbrand H-1 7/16x17/32 tappet wrench, stamped "Vanadium Tappet" with "Fremont, O. U.S.A." in the Herbrand script logo, and with the model number on the reverse face.

The overall length is 7.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

In this example the larger 17/32 opening differs from the 1/2 size observed on earlier H-1 models, suggesting a later production date.


H-2 "Vanadium Tappet" 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench

[Herbrand H-2 Vanadium 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 60. Herbrand H-2 "Vanadium Tappet" 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Mid to Late 1920s.

Fig. 60 shows a Herbrand H-2 1/2x9/16 tappet wrench, stamped "Vanadium Tappet" with "Fremont, O. U.S.A." in the Herbrand script logo, and with the model number on the reverse face.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


H-3 "Vanadium Tappet" 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench

[Herbrand H-3 Vanadium Tappet 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 61. Herbrand H-3 "Vanadium Tappet" 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench, ca. Mid to Late 1920s.

Fig. 61 shows a Herbrand H-3 5/8x11/16 tappet wrench, stamped "Vanadium Tappet" with "Fremont, O. U.S.A." in the Herbrand script logo.

The overall length is 8.0 inches. The finish is nickel plating, with minor losses due to wear.


H-5 "Vanadium Tappet" 5/8x7/8 Tappet Wrench

The Herbrand H-1 through H-4 tappet wrench models are well-known and quite common, but the company also produced a model H-5 5/8x7/8 tappet wrench, possibly as a special order.

[Herbrand H-5 Vanadium Tappet 5/8x7/8 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 62. Herbrand H-5 "Vanadium Tappet" 5/8x7/8 Tappet Wrench, ca. Mid to Late 1920s.

Fig. 62 shows a Herbrand "Vanadium Tappet" H-5 5/8x7/8 tappet wrench, stamped "Vanadium Tappet" with "Fremont, O. U.S.A." and the Herbrand script logo. The wrench sizes are stamped as 5/8 and 7/8 on the reverse faces, though unfortunately a previous owner has widened the 7/8 opening for some other purpose.

The overall length is 9.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Open-End Wrenches

With the 1929 filing of its "Van Chrome" trademark, Herbrand extended its use of chrome-vanadium alloy steel to include open-end wrenches. Herbrand offered a wide selection of alloy steel open-end wrenches in a 1000 model series based on industry-standard wrench numbers.

The early production of the 1xxx series wrenches featured oval shanks with "Van Chrome" (in quotes) forged into the shank, with stamped markings on the faces. Later production had relatively flat shanks with stamped markings for the company name and trademark. In still later production the "Van Chrome" trademark was omitted, after the company had switched to using chrome-molybdenum alloys such as AISI 8742 steel.


1721 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench

[Herbrand 1721 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 63. Herbrand 1721 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 63 shows a Herbrand 1721 5/16x3/8 open-end wrench, marked with the Herbrand script logo stamped on the face, with "Van Chrome" forged into the shank.

The overall length is 5.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.


1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench

[Herbrand 1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 64. Herbrand 1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench, ca. Late 1920s to 1930s.

Fig. 64 shows a Herbrand 1723 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench, marked with the Herbrand script logo stamped on the face, with "Van Chrome" forged into the shank.

The overall length is 5.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.


1725 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench with 8742 Steel

Our next figure shows an example of a forged-in marking indicating the particular triple-alloy steel used for the tool.

[Herbrand 1725 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 65. Herbrand 1725 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1946 to Early 1950s.

Fig. 65 shows a Herbrand 1725 7/16x1/2 open-end wrench, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the model number and fractional sizes.

The overall length is 6.3 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.

The inset shows the forged-in "8742" indicating the use of AISI 8742 steel, a nickel-chrome-molybdenum alloy.

The later marking style and nickel finish suggest post-war production.


1725B 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench

[Herbrand 1725B 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 66. Herbrand 1725B 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench, ca. Late 1920s to 1930s.

Fig. 66 shows a Herbrand 1725B 1/2x9/16 open-end wrench, stamped with the Herbrand script logo on one face, with "Van-Chrome" forged into the shank.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.


1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrenches

[Herbrand 1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 67. Herbrand 1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Late 1920s to 1930s.

Fig. 67 shows a Herbrand 1025 1/2x19/32 open-end wrench, stamped with the Herbrand script logo on one face, with "Van-Chrome" forged into the shank.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.

[Herbrand 1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 68. Herbrand 1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 68 shows a later Herbrand 1025 1/2x19/32 open-end wrench, with "Made in U.S.A." and the "Van-Chrome" trademark stamped on the shank.

The overall length is 6.3 inches.


1727 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench

[Herbrand 1727 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 69. Herbrand 1727 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench, ca. Late 1920s to 1930s.

Fig. 69 shows a Herbrand 1727 9/16x5/8 open-end wrench, stamped with the Herbrand script logo on one face, with "Van-Chrome" forged into the shank.

The overall length is 7.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.


1731-A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench

[Herbrand 1731-A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 70. Herbrand 1731-A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench, ca. Late 1920s to 1930s.

Fig. 70 shows a Herbrand 1731-A 3/4x7/8 open-end wrench, stamped "Fremont, O. U.S.A." with the Herbrand script logo on the face, with "Van Chrome" forged into the shank.

The overall length is 9.3 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.


1731B 13/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench with 8742 Steel

[Herbrand 1731B 13/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 71. Herbrand 1731B 13/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1946 to Early 1950s.

Fig. 71 shows a Herbrand 1731 13/16x7/8 open-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 9.3 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.

The inset shows the forged-in "8742" code on the reverse, though it's very faint and difficult to read. This code indicates the use of AISI 8742 steel, a nickel-chrome-molybdenum alloy.

The later marking style and nickel plated finish suggest post-war production.


1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench with 8742 Steel

[Herbrand 1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 72. Herbrand 1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1943-1945.

Fig. 72 shows a Herbrand 1033-C 15/16x1 open-end wrench, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the model number and fractional sizes on the shank. The reverse also has a forged-in code "8742" visible at the left.

The overall length is 10.6 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating with rough faces.

The forged-in "8742" code on the reverse indicates the use of AISI 8742 steel, a nickel-chrome-molybdenum alloy.

The cadmium plating and rough finish indicate wartime production, and the later marking style suggests the later 1943-1945 years.


1423 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench with Paneled Shank

This next figure shows an example of an open-end wrench in an alternate 14xx series. Our first catalog reference for the 14xx series is the 1941 catalog 52-M.

[Herbrand 1423 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 73. Herbrand 1423 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1941+.

Fig. 73 shows a Herbrand 1423 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench, marked "Van-Chrome" with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 4.6 inches, and the finish is chrome plate.


No. 85 9/32x1/4 Ignition Wrench

Herbrand also offered minature open-end or "ignition" wrenches.

[Herbrand Van-Chrome No. 85 9/32x1/4 Ignition Wrench]
Fig. 74. Herbrand "Van-Chrome" No. 85 9/32x1/4 Ignition Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 74 shows a Herbrand "Van-Chrome" No. 85 9/32x1/4 ignition wrench with a paneled shank, stamped with the Herbrand name and model on the shank, with "Van-Chrome" and the fractional sizes on the reverse, and with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse face.

The overall length is 3.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.


No. 87 11/32x3/8 Ignition Wrench

[Herbrand Van-Chrome No. 87 11/32x3/8 Ignition Wrench]
Fig. 75. Herbrand "Van-Chrome" No. 87 11/32x3/8 Ignition Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 75 shows a Herbrand "Van-Chrome" No. 87 11/32x3/8 ignition wrench with a paneled shank, stamped with the Herbrand name and model number on shank, with "Van-Chrome" and the fractional sizes on the reverse, and with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse face.

The overall length is 4.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.


Tappet Wrenches

Herbrand's Early Tappet Wrenches were examined in a prior section. In this section we'll look at tappet wrenches from the late 1920s onward.

[1929 Catalog Listing for Herbrand Tappet Wrenches]
Fig. 76. 1929 Catalog Listing for Herbrand Tappet Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 76 shows a listing for tappet wrenches published in a loose-leaf catalog from 1929.

The illustration shows a wrench marked "Van Chrome" and "Tappet" with the Herbrand script logo in between. The text notes that the "Van Chrome" trademark was still pending, so it would be reasonable to assume that Herbrand had recently revised their wrench markings to prepare for the trademark filing. Tappet wrenches were previously marked "Vanadium Tappet", and the company would now want to emphasize the actual trademark.

Based on the above reasoning, this marking style would be representative of tappet wrenches from mid 1929 into the late 1930s or early 1940s, when a change to chrome-molybdenum alloy steel made the "Van Chrome" marking no longer applicable.


H-2 "Van-Chrome" 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench

[Herbrand H-2 Van-Chrome 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 77. Herbrand H-2 Van-Chrome 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Mid 1929 to 1930s.

Fig. 77 shows a later Herbrand H-2 1/2x9/16 tappet wrench, stamped "Van-Chrome Tappet" with "Fremont, O. U.S.A." in the Herbrand script logo, and with the model number on the reverse shank.

The overall length is 7.9 inches. The finish is chrome plating, with some losses due to wear.


H-4 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrenches

[Herbrand H-4 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrenches]
Fig. 78. Herbrand H-4 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrenches.

Fig. 78 presents two generations of the Herbrand H-4 3/4x7/8 tappet wrench.

The bottom wrench is the older model, marked "Vanadium Tappet" with the Herbrand script logo and "Fremont, O. U.S.A." below. The finish of this wrench is plain steel. This marking style suggests production from the mid 1920s to early 1929.

The top wrench is marked "Herbrand Tappet" with "Made in U.S.A", and is finished in nickel plate. Both wrenches have an overall length of 9.0 inches.

You may have noticed that the top wrench isn't marked "Vanadium" or "Van-Chrome", and possibly wondered about the omission. The explanation appears on the reverse (although in coded form), where the number "8640" is forged in raised letters.

The "8640" mark indicates that the wrench was forged from AISI 8640 steel, a medium-hardening alloy with nickel, chromium, and molybdenum, but no vanadium. This was an equivalent or superior steel for the application, but without the vanadium content, Herbrand felt obliged to change their marking.

We're unsure of when tappet wrench production switched to chrome-moly steel, but it was probably in the mid 1940s.


LT-13 9/16 Single-Ended Long Tappet Wrench

Herbrand also offered an LT series of long tappet wrenches with a single opening.

[Herbrand LT-13 9/16 Single-Ended Long Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 79. Herbrand LT-13 9/16 Single-Ended Long Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Mid 1929 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 79 shows a Herbrand LT-13 9/16 long tappet wrench, stamped "Van-Chrome Tappet" with "Fremont, O. U.S.A." and the Herbrand script logo on the shank, with the model number on the reverse face.

The overall length is 12.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


LT-14 5/8 Single-Ended Long Tappet Wrench

[Herbrand LT-14 5/8 Single-Ended Long Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 80. Herbrand LT-14 5/8 Single-Ended Long Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Mid 1929 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 80 shows a Herbrand LT-14 5/8 long tappet wrench, stamped "Van-Chrome Tappet" with "Fremont, O. U.S.A." and the Herbrand script logo on the shank, with the model number on the reverse face.

The overall length is 12.3 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


"Obstructo" Angle-Head Wrenches

In 1931 Herbrand significantly expanded its alloy steel line with the introduction of "Multihex" box wrenches, "Multiflex" flex-box wrenches, and "Obstructo" S-pattern and angle-head wrenches. We'll take a look at each of these styles, beginning here with the "Obstructo" angle-head wrenches.

Angle-head obstruction wrenches are a specialized form of open-end wrench designed for improved access to restricted spaces. Typically the wrench openings are offset at large angles from the axis of the shank, but the particular design varied from company to company. Herbrand's angle-head design used two openings of the same size, with one opening offset at a 90 degrees and the other at 45 degrees. Herbrand produced these wrenches in an 18xx model number series, with six sizes ranging from the model 1821 (3/8) up to 1831 (3/4).

Herbrand used the "Obstructo" brand both for its angle-head obstruction wrenches and for a series of S-shaped box-end wrenches. Herbrand later filed a trademark for "Obstructo" and gave the first use date as August 1, 1931.

[Early Catalog Listing for Herbrand Obstructo Wrenches]
Fig. 81. Early Catalog Listing for Herbrand "Obstructo" Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 81 shows the listing for "Obstructo" wrenches on page 7 of Herbrand catalog 44-M, published in late 1931 as the 1932 "model year" catalog. The "Obstructo" wrenches were available in six sizes from 3/8 to 3/4, with models 1821 (3/8), 1823 (7/16), 1825 (1/2), 1827 (9/16), 1829 (5/8), and 1831 (3/4).

We also found a reference for the wrenches in the 1932 Western Auto catalog, which mentions the "Obstructo" brand and lists all six models, as well as other Herbrand wrenches. The catalog text doesn't mention Herbrand by name, but the illustration clearly shows the Herbrand script logo.

Note that although both of these catalog listings used "Obstructo" for angle-head wrenches, we haven't seen any angle-head wrenches actually marked with the brand.

The year 1931 was Herbrand's 50th anniversary year, and to commemorate the occasion the company modified the script logo marking on tools made that year, replacing "U.S.A." with "Since 1881". Thus far the modified logo has been observed only on "Multihex" wrenches, but probably would have been marked on "Obstructo" angle-head wrenches as well.

The other "Obstructo" brand tools can be seen in the section on Obstructo S-shaped Box Wrenches.

Alternative styles for angle-head obstruction wrenches can be seen in the Bonney 2031 Obstruction Wrench or Williams 2028S Obstruction Wrench.


1823 7/16x7/16 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrench

[Herbrand Van-Chrome 1823 7/16x7/16 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 82. Herbrand Van-Chrome 1823 7/16x7/16 Angle-head Obstruction Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 82 shows a Herbrand 1823 7/16x7/16 obstruction wrench, stamped with the fractional sizes on the faces, with the model number and Herbrand script logo on the reverse.

The overall length is 5.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The plain steel finish indicates production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.

A close look at the shank in the top inset shows that a forged-in "Van-Chrome" marking has been (mostly) removed by grinding. One possible explanation is that an older forging die with the incised Van-Chrome marking was placed back into production during the war, but since substitute steels were being used due to material shortages, the incorrect alloy marking had to be ground off afterwards.


1827 9/16x9/16 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrenches

[Herbrand Van-Chrome 1827 9/16x9/16 Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 83. Herbrand "Van-Chrome" 1827 9/16x9/16 Obstruction Wrench, ca. 1931 to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 83 shows a Herbrand 1827 9/16x9/16 obstruction wrench with "Van-Chrome" forged into the shank, and with the Herbrand script logo on the face.

The overall length is 6.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.

The forged-in "Van-Chrome" marking suggests that this is an early example of this model, possibly from 1931 to the mid 1930s.

[Herbrand 1827 9/16x9/16 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 84. Herbrand 1827 9/16x9/16 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 84 shows a Herbrand 1827 9/16x9/16 obstruction wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." but without the Van-Chrome trademark.

The overall length is 6.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.

The inset shows the forged number "8742" appearing on the reverse, indicating the use of AISI 8742 steel, an alloy with nickel, chromium, and molybdenum.


1831 3/4x3/4 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrench with AISI 8642 Steel

[Herbrand 1831 3/4x3/4 Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 85. Herbrand 1831 3/4x3/4 Obstruction Wrench.

Fig. 85 shows a Herbrand 1831 3/4x3/4 obstruction wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank. The shank is also marked with a "8642" code visible at the right.

The overall length is 7.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.

The forged-in marking "8642" indicates the use of AISI 8642 steel, an alloy with nickel, chromium, and molybdenum.


"Multihex" Box-End Wrenches

Herbrand began producing double-hex (12-point) box-end wrenches for their "Multihex" brand in 1931, a year that coincided with the company's 50th anniversary. The "Multihex" mark was intended to signify the double-hex broached openings, which allowed better access in tight places. The introduction date is documented by the first use date for the "Multihex" trademark (August 1, 1931), as well as by known catalog listings from late 1931.

[Early Catalog Listing for Herbrand Multihex Offset Box Wrenches]
Fig. 86. Early Catalog Listing for Herbrand "Multihex" Offset Box-End Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 86 shows the listings for "Multihex" offset box wrenches on page 5 of Herbrand catalog 44-M, published in late 1931 as the 1932 "model year" catalog. The listings show three models in the short offset pattern and seven models in the long offset pattern.

Another early catalog reference for these tools is the 1931 Western Auto Supply (Eastern edition) catalog, which offered Herbrand "Multihex" box wrenches in angled and offset styles.

To commemorate the company's 50th anniversary, Herbrand modified the script logo marking on tools made in 1931 by replacing "U.S.A." with "Since 1881". This modified logo has actually been observed on a number of randomly collected "Multihex" wrenches, which would seem highly improbably unless the wrenches sold in exceptionally large numbers that year.

By fortunate circumstance, in 1931 Herbrand had a supply contract with Western Auto Supply, a high volume mail-order retailer. Western Auto Supply's 1931 listing of "Multihex" wrenches was the first time that box-end wrenches had been offered to the retail market, and the response was beyond enthusiastic. We've written more about this Box-End Wrench Event in our article on Western Auto Supply.

We'll begin this section with an early example of the "Multihex" offset box wrenches.


3723 "Van-Chrome Multihex" 3/8x7/16 Offset Box Wrench

[Herbrand Van-Chrome Multihex 3723 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 87. Herbrand "Van-Chrome Multihex" 3723 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Detail, 1931.

Fig. 87 shows an early Herbrand 3723 3/8x7/16 offset box-end wrench, marked "Van-Chrome" and "Multihex" with the Herbrand script logo, and with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.

The top inset shows a side view of the wrench, illustrating the deep offset of this design.

The middle inset shows a close-up of the Herbrand script logo, and the text "Fremont, O" and "Since 1881" can be seen if the photograph is enlarged. This is a variant of the usual "Fremont, O. U.S.A." marking, and is believed to indicate production in 1931 to celebrate their 50th year of operations.


3725B 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 3725B 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 88. Herbrand 3725B 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1935+.

Fig. 88 shows a somewhat later Herbrand 3725B 1/2x9/16 offset box-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the oval-shaped shank. (Note that the "Van-Chrome" and "Multihex" brands are not marked on this tool.)

The overall length is 9.2 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The inset shows a profile view of the wrench with its deep offset design.

The 1935 Herbrand catalog noted that "Multihex" wrenches were being made from chrome-molybdenum steel, and at some point after that Herbrand dropped the "Van-Chrome" marking for the tools.


3727A "Van-Chrome Multihex" 5/8x11/16 Offset Box Wrench

[Herbrand 3727A Multihex 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 89. Herbrand 3727A "Multihex" 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Detail, 1931.

Fig. 89 shows an early Herbrand 3727A 5/8x11/16 offset box-end wrench, stamped "Van-Chrome" and "Multihex" with the Herbrand script logo, and with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.0 inches. The finish is nickel plating, with losses due to wear.

The top inset shows a side view of the wrench, illustrating the deep offset of this design.

As with an earlier example, the Herbrand script logo includes the text "Fremont, O" and "Since 1881", which is believed to indicate production in 1931 to celebrate their 50th year of operations.


3729A "Van-Chrome Multihex" 3/4x25/32 Offset Box Wrench

[Herbrand 3729A 3/4x25/32 Multihex Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 90. Herbrand 3729A 3/4x25/32 Multihex Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Detail, 1931.

Fig. 90 shows an early Herbrand 3729A 3/4x25/32 offset box-end wrench, stamped "Van-Chrome" and "Multihex" with the Herbrand script logo, and with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.2 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.

The top inset shows a side view of the wrench, illustrating the deep offset of this design.

As with an earlier example, the Herbrand script logo includes the text "Fremont, O" and "Since 1881", which is believed to indicate production in 1931 to celebrate their 50th year of operations.


3731B "Van-Chrome Multihex" 13/16x7/8 Offset Box Wrench

[Herbrand 3731B 13/16x7/8 Multihex Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 91. Herbrand 3731B 13/16x7/8 Multihex Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Detail, 1931.

Fig. 91 shows an early Herbrand 3731B 13/16x7/8 offset box-end wrench, stamped "Van-Chrome" and "Multihex" with the Herbrand script logo, and with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 12.7 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.

The top inset shows a side view of the wrench, illustrating the deep offset of this design.

As with an earlier example, the Herbrand script logo includes the text "Fremont, O" and "Since 1881", which is believed to indicate production in 1931 to celebrate their 50th year of operations.


3733C 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of the 3733C "Multihex" wrench, the largest of the series. We'll begin with an early example marked "Van-Chrome Multihex".

[Herbrand 3733C 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 92. Herbrand 3733C 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, 1931.

Fig. 92 shows a earlier Herbrand 3733C 15/16x1 offset box-end wrench, stamped "Van-Chrome" and "Multihex" with the Herbrand script logo, and with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 14.7 inches. The finish is now plain steel with some pitting due to rust, but the original finish was probably nickel plating.

Note that the Herbrand script logo includes the text "Fremont, O" and "Since 1881", which is believed to indicate production in 1931 to celebrate their 50th year of operations.


[Herbrand 3733C 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 93. Herbrand 3733C 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1935+.

Fig. 93 shows a later version of the same model, a Herbrand 3733C 15/16x1 offset box wrench, stamped "Made in USA" on the oval-shaped shank.

The overall length is 14.8 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The 1935 Herbrand catalog noted that "Multihex" wrenches were being made from chrome-molybdenum steel, and at some point after that Herbrand dropped the "Van-Chrome" marking for the tools.


4723 "Van-Chrome Multihex" 3/8x7/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

The "Multihex" series also included short offset box wrenches, as the following examples show.

[Herbrand 4723 3/8x7/16 Multihex Short Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 94. Herbrand 4723 3/8x7/16 Multihex Short Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side and Reverse Detail, ca. Early 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 94 shows a Herbrand 4723 3/8x7/16 short offset box-end wrench, marked "Van-Chrome Multihex" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 4.8 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.

The top inset shows a profile view of the wrench, to illustrate the deep offset design and the details of the forging.


4725B "Van-Chrome Multihex" 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 4725B 1/2x9/16 Multihex Short Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 95. Herbrand 4725B 1/2x9/16 Multihex Short Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side and Reverse Detail, ca. Early 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 95 shows a similar Herbrand 4725B 1/2x9/16 short offset box-end wrench, stamped with "Herbrand" and the model and fractional sizes on the shank, with "Van-Chrome Multihex" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 5.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.

The top inset shows a profile view of the wrench, to illustrate the deep offset design and the details of the forging.


4727A 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 4727A 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 96. Herbrand 4727A 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 96 shows a Herbrand 4727A 5/8x11/16 short offset box-end wrench, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the fractional sizes. The reverse shank also has a forged-in "L" code (not shown).

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish appears to be cadmium plating.

The top inset shows a side view of the wrench, illustrating the deep offset design.

The lack of an alloy specification and the cadmium plating suggest production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


6723 "Van-Chrome Multihex" 3/8x7/16 Short Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 6723 3/8x7/16 Short Multihex Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 97. Herbrand 6723 3/8x7/16 Short Multihex Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Early 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 97 shows a Herbrand 6723 3/8x7/16 box-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with "Van-Chrome Multihex" on the reverse.

The overall length is 4.0 inches.


6725B "Van-Chrome Multihex" 1/2x9/16 Short Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 6725B 1/2x9/16 Short Multihex Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 98. Herbrand 6725B 1/2x9/16 Short Multihex Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Early 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 98 shows a Herbrand 6725B 1/2x9/16 box-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with "Van-Chrome Multihex" on the reverse.

The overall length is 4.6 inches.


6727A "Van-Chrome Multihex" 5/8x11/16 Short Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 6727A 5/8x11/16 Multihex Short Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 99. Herbrand 6727A 5/8x11/16 Multihex Short Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Early 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 99 shows a Herbrand 6727A 5/8x11/16 box-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with "Van-Chrome Multihex" on the reverse.

The overall length is 5.1 inches.


"Obstructo" S-Shaped Box Wrenches

In 1931 Herbrand began offering a series of distinctive S-shaped box wrenches under the "Obstructo" brand, emphasizing the ability of the tool to work in spaces with limited clearance. Herbrand later registered "Obstructo" as a trademark and listed August 1, 1931 as the first use date.

This same year also saw the introduction of the "Multihex" and "Multiflex" brands and marked the start of Herbrand's transformation into a full-service vendor of automotive service tools.

The "Obstructo" brand was also used for Angle-Head Obstruction Wrenches, but unlike the case for the angle-head wrenches, the S-shaped box wrenches were actually marked with the "Obstructo" brand.


"Obstructo" S-Shaped Box-End Wrenches

[Herbrand 77xx Obstructo S-Shaped Box-End Wrenches]
Fig. 100. Herbrand 77xx "Obstructo" S-Shaped Box-End Wrenches, ca. 1931 to Late 1930s.

Fig. 100 shows a stack of three "Obstructo" S-shaped box wrenches, with No. 7725B on top. The individual wrenches appear in the next several figures.


7725-B "Obstructo" 1/2x9/16 S-Shaped Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 7275-B 1/2x9/16 S-Shaped Box Wrench]
Fig. 101. Herbrand 7725-B 1/2x9/16 S-Shaped Box Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1931 to Late 1930s.

Fig. 101 shows a Herbrand 7725-B 1/2x9/16 "Obstructo" S-shaped box wrench, marked "Van-Chrome" and "Made in U.S.A." on the front, with "Obstructo Box Wrench" on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.


7727 "Obstructo" 9/16x5/8 S-Shaped Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 7727 9/16x5/8 S-Shaped Box Wrench]
Fig. 102. Herbrand 7727 9/16x5/8 S-Shaped Box Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1931 to Late 1930s.

Fig. 102 shows a Herbrand 7727 9/16x5/8 "Obstructo" S-shaped box wrench, marked "Van-Chrome" and "Made in U.S.A." on the front, with "Obstructo Box Wrench" on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.


7729 "Obstructo" 11/16x25/32 S-Shaped Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 7729 11/16x25/32 S-Shaped Box Wrench]
Fig. 103. Herbrand 7729 11/16x25/32 S-Shaped Box Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1931 to Late 1930s.

Fig. 103 shows a Herbrand 7729 11/16x25/32 "Obstructo" S-shaped box wrench, stamped "Van-Chrome" and "Made in U.S.A." on the front, with "Obstructo Box Wrench" on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished ends.


"Multiflex" Flex-Box Wrenches

In 1931 Herbrand introduced a line of double-socket wrenches with swiveling heads under the "Multiflex" brand. The tools were first listed in catalog 44-M and were available in five models from 6823 (3/8x7/16) up to 6831 (13/16x7/8).

[Early Catalog Listing for Herbrand Multiflex Wrenches]
Fig. 104. Early Catalog Listing for Herbrand "Multiflex" Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 104 shows the earliest catalog listing for "Multiflex" wrenches, printed as page 6 of catalog 44-M, published in the fall of 1931 as the 1932 "model year" catalog.

A later trademark filing for "Multiflex" incorrectly listed the first-use date as November 1, 1933. Since the "Multihex" and "Obstructo" trademarks were also listed in catalog 44-M and both of these claim a first-use date of August 1, 1931, we believe that the correct first-use date for the "Multiflex" trademark was likely that same earlier date.

Somewhat curiously, the "Multiflex" brand was used only in catalogs and has not been observed as a marking on tools; the tools instead were marked "Flex-Box". (We've adopted flex-box as the generic name for this style.)

In 1931 flex-box wrenches were still quite new. Hinsdale had offered a single-ended flex-box wrench in the mid 1920s, and Cornwell is believed to have offered double-ended flex-box wrenches by 1929. We need to do more research into the origin of this interesting wrench style.


6825 "Flex-Box" 1/2x9/16 Double-Flex Socket Wrench

[Herbrand Flex-Box 6825 1/2x9/16 Double-Flex Socket Wrench]
Fig. 105. Herbrand "Flex-Box" 6825 1/2x9/16 Double-Flex Socket Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1931 to Late 1930s.

Fig. 105 shows a Herbrand 6825 "Flex-Box" 1/2x9/16 double-flex socket wrench, stamped "Van-Chrome" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank, with "Flex-Box" and the fractional sizes on the reverse.

The overall length (extended) is 8.8 inches, and the finish is polished nickel.


6827 "Flex-Box" 5/8x3/4 Double-Flex Socket Wrench

[Herbrand 6827 5/8x3/4 Flex-Box Wrench]
Fig. 106. Herbrand 6827 5/8x3/4 Flex-Box Socket Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1931 to Late 1930s.

Fig. 106 shows a Herbrand 6827 "Flex-Box" 5/8x3/4 double-flex socket wrench, stamped "Herbrand" and "Van-Chrome" with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank, with "Flex-Box" and the fractional sizes on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.2 inches.


Later Alloy Tools

With the success of its early "Van-Chrome" wrenches, Herbrand quickly broadened its line of alloy steel tools to include sockets and drive tools, combination wrenches, specialty tools, and a wider variety of wrenches.

In 1934 Herbrand began extending its use of alloy steel to include chrome-molybdenum alloys, with socket tools being the first to switch to chrome-moly. "Multihex" wrenches followed in 1935, and other tools followed in successive years. However, the catalogs continued to display the "Van-Chrome" trademark even as the line below said "Chrome-Molybdenum", so it's unclear how the tools were being marked at this time.


"Multitype" Combination Wrenches

The modern combination wrench with open and box ends of the same size was first developed in the spring of 1933 by Plomb Tool (and almost simultaneously by Bonney), and combination wrenches quickly became one of the most popular wrench styles.

Although most manufacturers preferred a 15-degree offset angle for both ends, Herbrand used a slightly different design for their combination wrenches, keeping the 15-degree offset for the box end but using a 22.5 degree offset for the open end. This larger offset angle, together with the relatively short length and paneled handles, gave their combination wrenches a distinctive appearance.

In keeping with the different design, Herbrand also gave their wrenches a different name, calling them "Multitype" instead of "Combination". (Other early combination wrenches also received odd names, such as Bonney's "TuType" or Blackhawk HeXo's "Half & Half".)

[1933 Catalog Listing for Herbrand Multitype Combination Wrenches]
Fig. 107. 1933 Catalog Listing for Herbrand "Multitype" Combination Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 107 shows the earliest catalog listing for "Multitype" wrenches, published as page 4A and inserted into Herbrand catalog 46-M. The main catalog is undated, but from the known sequence of Herbrand catalogs, 46-M was probably for 1933 and may have been printed in the fall of 1932.

It's unfortunate that we don't have a more precise date for this insert page, as it's possible that Herbrand could have been right in the mix with Plomb and Bonney as a contender for the first combination wrench. But with the knowledge that the Multitype wrenches were likely being produced in 1933, we'll watch for secondary sources that might narrow the time frame.

The "Multitype" wrenches proved to be popular and the series quickly expanded, reaching 12 sizes in 1937 and 17 sizes (models 1212-1246) in 1939. Later versions of the wrenches were given sharply defined depressed panels instead of the smooth depression of the early models.

The "Multitype" wrenches remained in production until at least the mid 1950s. Eventually this design was phased out in favor of a more conventional series of combination wrenches, which received the same model numbers but with an appended "N" code. (For "normal" perhaps?)


1216 1/2 "Multitype" Combination Wrench

[Herbrand 1216 1/2 Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 108. Herbrand 1216 1/2 "Multitype" Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1942-1943.

Fig. 108 shows a Herbrand 1216 1/2 combination wrench of the "Multitype" style, stamped "Herbrand" and "Van-Chrome" with the model number on the front panel, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 5.5 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating, with losses due to wear and rust.

This wrench exhibits the "classic" marking style for early Herbrand "Multitype" wrenches.

The cadmium finish indicates production during the wartime years, and the early marking style suggests the earlier 1942-1943 period.


1218 9/16 "Multitype" Combination Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of the Herbrand 1218 multitype wrench, with different steel specifications.

[Herbrand 1218 9/16 Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 109. Herbrand 1218 9/16 "Multitype" Combination Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1943-1945.

Fig. 109 shows an earlier Herbrand 1218 9/16 combination wrench of the "Multitype" style, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the model and fractional size on the front panel. The shank is also marked with a forged-in number "1340" visible at the right.

The overall length is 6.0 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The "1340" marking indicates the use of AISI 1340 steel, a substitution frequently used by Herbrand during the wartime years.

Note the use of Herbrand's later marking style, without "Van-Chrome" and with "Made in U.S.A." on the same side as the other markings. The cadmium finish and 1340 steel indicate production during the 1942-1945 wartime years, and the marking style indicates the later years of the period. This example shows that the transition to Herbrand's later marking style occurred during the wartime period.

[Herbrand 1218 9/16 Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 110. Herbrand 1218 9/16 "Multitype" Combination Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. Mid 1940s to Early 1950s.

Fig. 110 shows a somewhat later Herbrand 1218 9/16 combination wrench of the "Multitype" style, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the model and fractional size on the front panel.

The overall length is 6.0 inches.

The reverse of this wrench has a small forged-in marking "8742" (not shown).

The forged-in marking "8742" on the reverse has been identified as referring to AISI 8742 steel, a nickel-chrome-molybdenum triple alloy. Such a steel would have been an equivalent or superior substitute for the typical chrome-vanadium alloy, but with no vanadium in use, Herbrand has omitted the Van-Chrome marking.


1220 5/8 "Multitype" Combination Wrenches

The next several figures show examples of Herbrand 1220 "multitype" wrench.

[Herbrand Van-Chrome 1220 5/8 Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 111. Herbrand Van-Chrome 1220 5/8 "Multitype" Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1933 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 111 shows a Herbrand 1220 5/8 combination wrench of the "Multitype" style, stamped "Herbrand" and "Van-Chrome" with the model number on the front panel, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.5 inches. The original finish was nickel plating, but much has been lost due to wear and rust.

This wrench exhibits the "classic" marking style for early Herbrand "Multitype" wrenches.

[Herbrand Van-Chrome 1220 5/8 Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 112. Herbrand Van-Chrome 1220 5/8 "Multitype" Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 112 shows another example of the Herbrand 1220 5/8 combination wrench, stamped "Herbrand" and "Van-Chrome" with the model number on the front panel, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse. The shank is also marked with a "CMS" code visible at the right.

The overall length is 6.5 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating, with extensive losses due to wear.

This wrench exhibits the "classic" marking style for early Herbrand "Multitype" wrenches.

The cadmium finish and classic marking style suggest production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.

The "CMS" marking is believed to stand for "Chrome Moly Steel". Although the "CMS" marking is inconsistent with the "Van-Chrome" marking, for wartime production it was probably expedient to leave the "Van-Chrome" marking in place.

[Herbrand 1220 5/8 Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 113. Herbrand 1220 5/8 "Multitype" Combination Wrench, ca. 1950s.

Fig. 113 shows a later Herbrand 1220 5/8 "Multitype" combination wrench with sharply defined depressed panels, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the front panel.

The overall length is 6.5 inches. The wrench is finished in chrome plating with polished ends.

Note that the depressed panel in the handle has a well-defined outline with steep walls; compare this with the shallow depression shown in the previous figures.


1222 11/16 "Multitype" Combination Wrenches

The next figures show two generations of the model 1222 combination wrench.

[Herbrand Van-Chrome 1222 11/16 Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 114. Herbrand Van-Chrome 1222 11/16 "Multitype" Combination Wrench, with Inset for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1935 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 114 shows a Herbrand 1222 11/16 combination wrench of the "Multitype" style, stamped "Van-Chrome" on the front panel, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with losses due to wear.

This wrench exhibits the "classic" marking style for early Herbrand "Multitype" wrenches. The model 1222 11/16 "Multitype" wrenches were in production by 1935.

[Herbrand 1222 11/16 Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 115. Herbrand 1222 11/16 "Multitype" Combination Wrench with AISI 8742 Steel, ca. Mid 1940s to Early 1950s.

Fig. 115 shows a Herbrand 1222 11/16 "Multitype" combination wrench, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the fractional sizes on the front panel.

The shank also has a forged-in "8742" code visible near the box end.

The overall length is 7.0 inches. The finish is now plain steel with polished faces, but the wrench may have had a plated finish originally.

This wrench is not marked with the Herbrand "Van-Chrome" trademark, but is marked with a forged-in "8742" code next to the box end. With the use of AISI 8742 nickel chrome molybdenum steel, Herbrand has omitted the "Van-Chrome" marking.


1226 13/16 "Multitype" Combination Wrenches

[Herbrand 1226 13/16 Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 116. Herbrand 1226 13/16 "Multitype" Combination Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 116 shows a Herbrand 1226 13/16 "Multitype" combination wrench, stamped "Herbrand" and "Van-Chrome" with the model number on the front panel (middle image), with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse panel (lower image). The shank also has a forged-in "CMN" code (upside-down in the photo) visible at the right.

The overall length is 8.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with pitting due to rust.

The "CMN" code is believed to stand for Chrome-Moly-Nickel, the family for the typical AISI 8742 alloy steel that Herbrand often used.

The plain finish and classic marking style suggest production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.

Note that the "CMN" marking is inconsistent with the "Van-Chrome" marking, as the types of steel are different. But since the wrench was likely wartime production, it was probably expedient to leave the marking set for "Van-Chrome".

[Herbrand 1226 13/16 Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 117. Herbrand 1226 13/16 "Multitype" Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. Mid 1940s to Early 1950s.

Fig. 117 shows a later Herbrand 1226 13/16 "Multitype" combination wrench, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the model number and fractional size on the front panel. The shank also has a forged-in "8742" code visible at the left.

The overall length is 8.7 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

This wrench is not marked with the Herbrand "Van-Chrome" trademark, but has a forged-in "8742" code near to the open end. With the use of AISI 8742 nickel chrome molybdenum steel, Herbrand has omitted the "Van-Chrome" marking.


1228 7/8 "Multitype" Combination Wrench

[Herbrand 1228 7/8 Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 118. Herbrand 1228 7/8 "Multitype" Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 118 shows a Herbrand 1228 7/8 "Multitype" combination wrench, stamped "Van-Chrome" on the front panel, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.4 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The cadmium finish and classic marking style suggest production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


1232 "Multitype" Combination Wrench, Later Version

[Herbrand 1232 1 Inch Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 119. Herbrand 1232 1 Inch "Multitype" Combination Wrench, ca. 1950s.

Fig. 119 shows another example of a later model multitype wrench, a Herbrand 1232 1 inch wrench with sharply defined depressed panels, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the front panel.

The overall length is 14.5 inches. The wrench is finished in chrome plating with polished ends.


1209-M 9mm Combination Wrench

Herbrand also produced metric sized wrenches using the "Multitype" design.

[Herbrand 1209-M 9mm Multitype Combination Wrench]
Fig. 120. Herbrand 1209-M 9mm "Multitype" Combination Wrench with Hexagonal Broaching.

Fig. 120 shows a Herbrand 1209-M 9mm combination wrench with a hexagonal broaching, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the metric size on the front panel.

The overall length is 4.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


T-Series Tappet Wrenches

By 1935 Herbrand had developed a new style of tappet wrench with a novel opening shape, designed to contact the nut in the center of the flats instead of at the corners. The new series also featured relatively long shanks with raised ribs running the length of the shank (on both sides). These new tappet wrenches were initially offered in models T-1 to T-4, and a T-5 model was added later.

The new opening style was apparently not well received (perhaps being ahead if its time), and by 1939 Herbrand was offering a T-21 to T-24 series of tappet wrenches, retaining the long shanks and raised ribs, but with conventional openings. By 1941 the T-1 series had been discontinued.

While experimenting with the T-series tappet wrenches, Herbrand continued to offer the older H-1 to H-4 tappet wrenches, as well as an LT-series of long single-ended tappet wrenches.


T-3 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench

[Herbrand T-3 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 121. Herbrand T-3 9/16x5/8 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1935-1941.

Fig. 121 shows a Herbrand T-3 9/16x5/8 tappet wrench with the distinctive opening shape, stamped "Van-Chrome" and "Made in U.S.A." on the raised rib.

The overall length is 9.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


T-4 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench

[Herbrand T-4 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 122. Herbrand T-4 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1935-1941.

Fig. 122 shows a Herbrand T-4 5/8x11/16 tappet wrench with the distinctive opening shape, stamped "Van-Chrome" and "Made in U.S.A." on the raised rib.

The overall length is 9.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


T-5 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench

[Herbrand T-5 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 123. Herbrand T-5 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Mid 1930s-1941.

Fig. 123 shows a Herbrand T-5 3/4x7/8 tappet wrench with the distinctive opening shape, stamped "Van-Chrome" and "Made in U.S.A." on the raised rib.

The overall length is 9.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


T-21 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench

The next several figures show examples of the T-2x series of tappet wrenches.

[Herbrand T-21 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 124. Herbrand T-21 7/16x1/2 Tappet Wrench, ca. 1939 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 124 shows a Herbrand T-21 7/16x1/2 tappet wrench, stamped "Van Chrome" and "Made in U.S.A." on the raised rib.

The overall length is 9.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces and ribs.

This example still carries the "Van Chrome" marking, suggesting a relatively early production date.


T-22 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench

[Herbrand T-22 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 125. Herbrand T-22 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench, ca. 1940s+.

Fig. 125 shows a Herbrand T-22 1/2x9/16 tappet wrench with a raised rib, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the model number and fractional sizes.

The overall length is 9.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces and ribs.


T-23 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench

[Herbrand T-23 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 126. Herbrand T-23 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench, ca. 1940s+.

Fig. 126 shows a Herbrand T-23 5/8x11/16 tappet wrench with a raised rib, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the model number and fractional sizes.

The overall length is 9.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces and ribs.


T-24 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench

[Herbrand T-24 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 127. Herbrand T-24 3/4x7/8 Tappet Wrench, ca. 1940s+.

Fig. 127 shows a Herbrand T-24 3/4x7/8 tappet wrench with a raised rib, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the model number and fractional sizes.

The overall length is 9.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces and ribs.


"Angular Multihex" Box Wrenches


5727 "Angular Multihex" 9/16x5/8 Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 5727 9/16x5/8 Angular Multihex Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 128. Herbrand 5727 9/16x5/8 Angular Multihex Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 128 shows a Herbrand 5727 9/16x5/8 "Angular Multihex" box-end wrench, marked "Van-Chrome" and "Made in U.S.A.", with "Angular Multihex" on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.1 inches.


5729 "Angular Multihex" 11/16x25/32 Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 5729 11/16x25/32 Angular Multihex Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 129. Herbrand 5729 11/16x25/32 Angular Multihex Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 129 shows a Herbrand 5729 11/16x25/32 "Angular Multihex" box-end wrench, marked "Van-Chrome and "Made in U.S.A.", with "Angular Multihex" on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel with no trace of plating.


5731-A "Angular Multihex" 3/4x7/8 Box-End Wrenches

The next figures show two generations of the Herbrand 5731-A Multihex wrench.

[Herbrand 5731-A 3/4x7/8 Angular Multihex Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 130. Herbrand 5731-A 3/4x7/8 Angular Multihex Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 130 at the left shows a Herbrand 5731-A 3/4x7/8 "Angular Multihex" box-end wrench, marked "Van-Chrome and "Made in U.S.A.", with "Angular Multihex" on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.3 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

[Herbrand 5731-A 3/4x7/8 Box-End Wrench with 8742 Steel]
Fig. 131. Herbrand 5731-A 3/4x7/8 Box-End Wrench with 8742 Steel, ca. 1942-1943.

Fig. 131 at the left shows a later Herbrand 5731-A 3/4x7/8 box-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the shank. A forged-in number "8742" can be seen near the righthand box end.

The overall length is 11.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel with a rough-forged surface.

The "8742" code forged into the shank indicates the use of AISI 8742 steel, a nickel, chromium, and molybdenum alloy frequently used by Herbrand. (In fact, the 1941 Herbrand catalog listing for this model notes the use of chrome-molybdenum steel.)

Although this wrench is not marked "Angular Multihex", the design and construction are the same as the previous example, and the 1941 catalog still refers to these as Multihex box wrenches. The rough, unplated finish of this example, together with marking differences and use of the 8742 alloy, suggest a manufacturing date in 1942 or 1943.


"Ultra-Box" Box Wrenches

The next several figures show examples of the Herbrand 39xx series of offset box wrenches, a distinctive design with raised paralleogram panels called "Ultra-Box" wrenches in the catalogs. A catalog search found these models listed in the 1935 Herbrand catalog 48-M, but not yet offered among the Herbrand tools in the 1935-36 Thorsen catalog, so the Ultra-Box wrenches were likely introduced in 1935. (Third-party catalogs may be updated more slowly than the manufacturer's own publications.)

Apart from the raised panels, the catalog mentions that the Ultra-Box design includes offset angles optimized for use, after consulation with experts. The raised panel design used on these wrenches (and other models) was apparently patented by Herbrand, based on the claims in their catalogs, but the (design) patent hasn't been located yet.

The standard finish in 1935 was nickel plating, but by 1941 the finish was chrome plating over nickel. We have attempted to use the finish in estimating the manufacturing date of some examples, although of course it's subject to error, as nickel and chrome sometimes have a similar appearance, and chrome over nickel may wear down to just nickel.

As a side note, the introduction of Herbrand's Ultra-Box series touched off another round of fierce competition from Duro/Indestro, who introduced a very similar design with the paralleograms flipped along the long axis. We have a number of examples of Duro/Indestro's ersatz-Ultra-Box wrenches produced for the ChromeXQuality brand, illustrating once again the competition for Western Auto's business.


3927 "Ultra-Box" 9/16x5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 3927 9/16x5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 132. Herbrand 3927 9/16x5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1935-1940.

Fig. 132 shows a Herbrand 3927 9/16x5/8 offset box-end wrench with raised parallelogram panels, stamped "Van-Chrome" on the front panel, with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 8.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces and ends.


3929 "Ultra-Box" 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 3929 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 133. Herbrand 3929 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Mid to Late1940s.

Fig. 133 shows a Herbrand 3929 5/8x11/16 offset box-end wrench with raised parallelogram panels, marked "Made in U.S.A." on the raised panel. (The markings are only partially struck due to a ground-down edge on the panel, but it appears to have happened at the factory, as the plated finish is intact.)

The overall length is 9.7 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces and ends.

The inset shows the small "8742" number forged into the reverse side, which indicates the use of AISI 8742 steel. This alloy steel contains nickel, chromium, and molybdenum, but no vanadium, and Herbrand has accordingly omitted the "Van-Chrome" trademark.

The 1941 catalog still specified chrome-vanadium steel for these wrenches, so the "8742" marking indicates production some time after this.


3931 "Ultra-Box" 3/4x13/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 3931 3/4x13/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 134. Herbrand 3931 3/4x13/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side and Reverse Detail, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 134 shows a Herbrand 3931 3/4x13/16 offset box-end wrench with raised parallelogram panels, stamped "Van-Chrome" on the front panel, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 10.9 inches.

The finish is chrome plating, now worn through in many areas to reveal the copper underplating.


3933 "Ultra-Box" 7/8x15/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 3933 7/8x15/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 135. Herbrand 3933 7/8x15/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1935-1940.

Fig. 135 shows a Herbrand 3933 7/8x15/16 offset box-end wrench with raised parallelogram panels, stamped "Van-Chrome" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Herbrand name in script on the front panel. (There are no markings on the reverse.)

The overall length is 13.4 inches. The finish is nickel plating, with some finish loss due to rust.

A small forged-in number "17" appears near the left box end, though it's difficult to see in the photograph. This number has been noted on other Herbrand tools as well, and may be another specification for the steel type; however, the interpretation is unknown at this time.


3935 "Ultra-Box" 1x1-1/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

Our next figure shows another example of the Ultra-Box 393x series, similar to the previous figures but without the raised panels on the shank. (According to the catalogs, the larger models in the 39xx series were not offered in the paneled design.)

[Herbrand 3935 1x1-1/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 136. Herbrand 3935 1x1-1/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 136 shows a Herbrand 3935 1x1-1/16 offset box-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with "Van-Chrome" on the reverse. The overall length is 15.8 inches.

The finish is chrome plating with polished ends.


4925 "Ultra-Box" 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box Wrench

The Ultra-box series also included short offset wrenches, as the next figure illustrates.

[Herbrand 4925 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 137. Herbrand 4925 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 137 shows a Herbrand 4925 1/2x9/16 offset box-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the raised panel.

The overall length is 5.3 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This wrench is not marked with the "Van-Chrome" trademark, but does show a forged-in number "8642" on the reverse shank, indicating the use of AISI 8642 steel. AISI 8642 steel is an alloy of nickel, chromium, and molybdenum, and this steel was frequently used by Herbrand.


4625 "Ultra-Box" 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box-End Hex Wrench

In later years Herbrand offered short offset box wrenches with hexagonal broachings, probably intended for a special application.

[Herbrand 4625 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Hex Wrench]
Fig. 138. Herbrand 4625 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box-End Hex Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 138 shows a Herbrand 4625 1/2x9/16 short offset box-end wrench with hexagonal (6-point) broachings, stamped "Van Chrome" with the Herbrand script on the raised panel, with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 5.6 inches, and the finish is black oxide.

Currently we don't have a catalog reference for this model and will have to do a bit of research.


5929 "Ultra-Box" 11/16x3/4 Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 5929 Ultra-Box 11/16x3/4 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 139. Herbrand 5929 "Ultra-Box" 11/16x3/4 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1943-1945.

Fig. 139 shows a Herbrand 5929 11/16x3/4 box-end wrench with raised parallelogram panels, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the model number and fractional sizes on the front panel. The reverse shank is marked with a forged-in "1340" code at the left and a "0" code at the right.

The overall length is 9.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with extensive pitting due to rust.

This wrench is marked in the later style, without the "Van-Chrome" trademark and with a "1340" code indicating the use of AISI 1340 carbon-manganese steel.

The plain finish and "1340" code indicate wartime production, and the later marking style suggests the later 1943-1945 years.


6923 "Ultra-Box" 3/8x7/16 Short Box-End Wrench

[Herbrand 6923 Short 3/8x7/16 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 140. Herbrand 6923 "Ultra-Box" 3/8x7/16 Short Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1946 to Early 1950s.

Fig. 140 shows a Herbrand 6923 3/8x7/16 short box-end wrench with raised parallelogram panels, stamped "Herbrand" and "Made in U.S.A." with the model number and fractional sizes on the front panel.

The overall length is 4.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished panels and ends.

This wrench is marked in the later style, without the "Van-Chrome" trademark and with a "8642" code indicating the use of AISI 8642 steel. The 8642 steel is an alloy of nickel, chromium, and molybdenum with a slightly higher carbon content than the 8640 steel noted on other tools.

The use of the later marking style and the nickel plated finish suggest production in the post-war period.


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