Alloy Artifacts  

Hinsdale In Hindsight

[Hinsdale Logo from 1924 Trademark]
Hinsdale Logo from 1924 Trademark

Table of Contents

Introduction

This article will look at the Hinsdale Manufacturing Company, a maker of hand tools active in the Chicago area during the 1920s through 1940s. Although not very well known today, the company played a significant role as an early maker of automotive service tools. At one time Hinsdale products were sold widely through Western Auto, Sears Roebuck, and automotive supply distributors.

We'll briefly review the history of the company and then look at some examples of the tools produced by Hinsdale.

Company History

The Hinsdale Manufacturing Company was founded in 1919 by Fred W. Miller, and operated initially in Hinsdale, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

[1919 Notice of Incorporation for Hinsdale Manufacturing]
Fig. 1. 1919 Notice of Incorporation for Hinsdale Manufacturing.

The scan in Fig. 1 shows a notice of incorporation published on page 25 of the August 5, 1919 edition of the Chicago Tribune. The founders are listed as Fred W. Miller, Albert W. Rancke, and Charles H. Johnson, and the capital is given as $10,000.

The founding date is also confirmed by at least two sources: a reprinted early advertisement in AWM2e, and a 1947 Hinsdale catalog that provides a brief company history.

Hinsdale Manufacturing's first factory was located at 47th and County Line Road in Hinsdale, but the company remained in Hinsdale only briefly. By 1921 the company had moved into a factory at 1857 Fulton Street in Chicago.

[1922 Listing for Hinsdale Manufacturing]
Fig. 2. 1922 Listing for Hinsdale Manufacturing Company. [External Link]

The notice in Fig. 2 is from page 536 of the 1922 Certified List of Domestic and Foreign Corporations, published by the Illinois Secretary of State.

In this later notice, the company address is listed as 1857 Fulton Street in Chicago, with Fred W. Miller and Charles H. Johnson as officers. In addition, the capital had increased to $40,000.

The company apparently also had a business or sales office at 215-217 North Desplaines Avenue, a few blocks away from the Fulton Street address. The 1930 Donnelley's Industrial Directory listed Hinsdale Manufacturing at 217 North Desplaines, and an advertising brochure from 1933 lists the address at 215 North Desplaines. The company remained at the 1857 Fulton Street location for its subsequent years.

During the 1920s the company produced a variety of wrenches, socket sets, fixed-socket wrenches, and automotive specialty tools. Recently found catalog information has shown that Hinsdale products were widely available through high-volume catalog retailers, including Western Auto and Sears Roebuck; this would have given Hinsdale a national footprint for sales. In addition, at least some of their socket sets and specialty tools were sold through Beckley-Ralston, a large distributor-dealer of automotive tools and equipment.

Sales Through Western Auto Supply

Catalogs from Western Auto provide some of our earliest references to Hinsdale products. The 1922 Western Auto (Eastern edition) catalog offered a Hinsdale No. 12 pressed-steel socket set for $4.45, with the company name clearly shown in the illustration. (An example of this set can be seen as the Early No. 12 Socket Set.) Another page listed a set of five stamped steel "S" wrenches with the Hinsdale rounded "H" logo visible.

The 1924 Ford Owners' Supply Book (Eastern edition) catalog from Western Auto again listed a Hinsdale No. 12 pressed-steel socket set with the name visible, and a group of specialty tools are shown with the Hinsdale logo, a rounded "H" with a circle.

The 1927 Auto Owners' Supply Book (Eastern edition) catalog from Western Auto shows the transition to machined sockets, as the pressed-steel socket set was no longer offered. A "Utility Wrench Set" with hex-drive sockets doesn't show a maker's name, but matches the description of the Hinsdale No. 12B-R set. The square-drive "Handy Socket Wrench Set" for $1.58 is illustrated as the Hinsdale TL-10 set, and the "Superior" socket wrench set, priced at $5.95, is identified as the Hinsdale G-20 in the illustration. This Hinsdale G-20 set became widely recognized as the one of the best tool sets for the Ford Model T, and likely sold in high volumes for that time.

One of the tools from the G-20 set, the DS-1 speeder handle, was apparently popular enough that Western Auto listed it separately for a $0.48 price, with the company name clearly visible. Individual sockets from the G-20 set could also be purchased for $0.12 each.

Alloy Steel Tools

By 1929 (or earlier) Hinsdale was offering socket sets of chrome-nickel alloy steel. An advertisement in Popular Science Monthly from May of 1929 (on page 141 at the left) offers a "36 Piece Chrome Nickel Master Socket Wrench Set" for just $7.95 plus shipping. The set included a ratchet, T-L handle, speeders, and a selection of sockets, and the description specifically mentions the use of S.A.E. 3130 alloy steel.

Another of Hinsdale's early alloy tools was a set of five open-end wrenches made of chrome vanadium steel. An advertisement for the Hinsdale Chrome Vanadium Wrench Set can be seen in the right-hand column on page 124 of the June, 1929 issue of Popular Science Monthly. The illustration shows a set of five wrenches in a distinctive holder with slots in the back and fingers to hold the wrenches. This same wrench set was offered in the 1929 Sears catalog, without mentioning the Hinsdale brand, but with the distinctive holder illustrated to confirm that it is the same set.

By 1930 the Sears catalog was offering a 46-piece socket set in a hip roof toolbox, identifiable as Hinsdale by the illustration of the distinctive Convertible T-L Handle with the Hinsdale name visible. The Sears listing also noted the "strongest alloy steel" of the sockets, making this the first alloy steel socket set offered by Sears, and one of the earliest available through mass market retailers. An example of this set can be seen as the Hinsdale Chrome-Nickel "Mechanics" Set.

The "Bob Cat" Brand

By 1930 Hinsdale had begun using the "Bob Cat" brand for alloy steel tools, with a logo composed of a growling cat's head between the two words. This brand has been noted in the Sears Roebuck catalogs, but was not previously known as a Hinsdale product. Several examples of advertisements for "Bob Cat" tools have been found in Popular Science Monthly, such as one in September of 1930 for a Bob Cat No. G-11 Socket Set, and one from April of 1931 (page 132 at the upper right) offering an "Alloy Chisel Set" made of "Bob Cat Special Alloy Steel". The "Bob Cat" branded tools are not very common, suggesting that the brand may have been in use only briefly.

An interesting snippet of Hinsdale history comes from the web site of Berland's Tools, a company with connections to the founders of Sherman-Klove (S-K) tools. According to the historical information posted there, Sherman-Klove was the manufacturer of the socket sets sold by Hinsdale, and in the early 1930s Hinsdale ceased operations. This left Sherman-Klove with a large inventory of unsold goods, and handling the leftover inventory provided the impetus to form S-K Hand Tools in 1932. S-K of course went on to find considerable success on its own. [Update: the current Berland's history page no longer includes this anecdote. 😢]

Supplier to Sears Craftsman Line

In spite of whatever difficulties occurred during the depression years, Hinsdale was able to resume operations sometime later. By 1933 the company was advertising box-end wrenches and socket sets made of chrome vanadium steel, including wrenches in the HD-series identified as being sold under the Sears Craftsman brand. Recently (December 2015) Hinsdale has been identified as a supplier of Craftsman Vanadium open-end wrenches as well. Further information on the production for Craftsman can be found in the section on Hinsdale's Craftsman Connection.

Development of Heavy-Duty Tools

During the 1930s the company developed a line of heavy-duty tools for use in oilfield or other industrial applications, a line which included socket tools of 1-1/4 inch drive size. A catalog from around 1947 shows them with a modest line of service and maintenance tools, including socket sets, open and box-end wrenches, combination wrenches, and other tools. The catalog also includes pictures of their production facilities and of the Hinsdale booth at a trade show.


Patents

Hinsdale developed or licensed a number of patents for its tool production, and these are summarized in the table below. Also included are patents issued to Fred W. Miller, the company's founder, although it's uncertain whether these were used in production by Hinsdale.

Hinsdale Manufacturing: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
1,425,816 V.J. Van Horn01/06/192108/15/1922 Ratchet Wrench
Early Ratchet
1,597,747 F. Wermes10/04/192308/31/1926 Convertible Wrench Handle [TL-1]
TL-1 Convertible Handle
1,597,939 F. Wermes06/25/192308/31/1926 Wrench with Swivel Socket
1,650,085 J. McDonough12/15/192411/22/1927 Ratchet Wrench
H-1 Ratchet
1,765,496 F.W. Miller06/01/192806/24/1930 Wrench Holder
1,808,856 F.W. Miller11/19/192806/09/1931 Valve Grinder Attachment

Trademarks

After a long search, we finally located the "Hinsdale" trademark, registered as #178,291 by the company in 1924. The trademark was used for wrenches, socket wrenches, and other tools.

Hinsdale used the "Bob Cat" brand for some alloy steel tools, beginning around 1930. Hinsdale filed a trademark application for "Bob Cat" on May 5, 1930 and the trademark was issued as #275,957 on October 7, 1930. At this time the company's address was listed as 217 North Desplaines Street in Chicago, and the trademark was used for hammers, hatchets, wrenches, wrench sets, and other tools.

Hinsdale Manufacturing: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo First Use Date Filed Date Issued Reg. No. Notes
Hinsdale Logo 10/01/1919 07/18/1923 01/08/1924 178,291 "Round-H" logo
Hinsdale Bob Cat Logo 04/04/1930 05/05/1930 10/07/1930 275,957 "Bob Cat" logo

Tool Identification

Hinsdale tools are generally easy to identify, as they were typically marked with a distinctive logo resembling a rounded "H" in a circle. We will refer to this as the Round-H-Circle logo in the text.

The Hinsdale rounded "H" logo should not be confused with the H-Circle logo used by New Britain Machine for Craftsman-branded tools. The latter H-Circle uses an "H" with straight sides.

Hinsdale tools marked with the "Bob Cat" brand were generally not marked with the company name or the Round-H-Circle logo. The "Bob Cat" marking sometimes appeared as a single word, and sometimes as two words with a cat's head in between.

References and Resources

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

Hinsdale is mentioned briefly in American Wrench Makers 1830-1930, 2nd Edition by Kenneth Cope (Astragal Press, 2002) (AWM2e in the text), which reprints an early advertisement stating the 1919 founding date. (Note though that one of the patent dates mentioned there is incorrect.)


Catalog Coverage

Product information was obtained from several Hinsdale publications, as summarized in the table below.

Hinsdale Manufacturing: Catalog Resources
Catalog Format Date Notes
CS-2 Flyer Late 1920s? Single page printed on both sides, no date given.
Lists DR-2 rim wrench, 22-D drain plug set, G-10 "Speeder" set.
Lists hex drive sets 10B, 10B-R, 12B-R and 12B-R "Special".
N/A Brochure 1933 Foldout brochure with "Prices Guaranteed Until February 28 1933".
Lists No. 185 5/16-drive and No. 10AC 3/8-drive socket sets.
Lists No. 37G and No. STW-14 1/2-drive socket sets.
Lists offset box wrenches HD1-HD6.
N/A Booklet 1935 16 pages. Includes 9/32-drive socket tools. Specifies S.A.E. 6140 steel.
Lists straight box wrenches X1-X6 and short offset box wrenches X10-X30.
Illustrates "Hinsdale Vanadium" open-end wrenches.
No. 101 Full-size 1943 32 pages. Lists Phillips screwdrivers. Box wrenches in HDxx-yy series.
Lists Whitworth sockets and wrenches.
N/A Loose-leaf 1946 34 pages. 9/32-drive still available.
Lists Whitworth sockets and wrenches.

Industrial Distributors

Hinsdale tools were offered by a number of automotive suppliers and retail chains, and some of the catalogs from these companies include information on Hinsdale products.


Advertisements

In the late 1920s Hinsdale placed advertisements in magazines such as Popular Science Monthly.


Early Tools

Hinsdale's early tools included wrenches and pliers of stamped-steel construction, as well as fixed-socket wrenches designed for automotive service.


Open-End Wrenches

[1921 Catalog Listing for Hinsdale Open-End Wrenches]
Fig. 3. 1921 Catalog Listing for Hinsdale Open-End Wrenches.

Hinsdale's early open-end wrenches were of stamped-steel construction and were available in both 15 degree offset and "S"-shaped styles.

Fig. 3 shows a catalog listing for Hinsdale open-end wrenches, as found on page 28 of the 1921 catalog from the Surplus Auto Supply Company of Chicago. Note that the listing mentions the company's name and also shows the Round-H-Circle logo on the wrenches.


Early 5/8x11/16 Open-End Wrench with Stamped Construction

[Hinsdale 5/8x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 4. Hinsdale 5/8x11/16 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 4 shows an early Hinsdale 5/8x11/16 open-end wrench of stamped steel construction, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo, and with "Hinsdale, Illinois" below.

The overall length is 6.3 inches, and the finish is a thin nickel plating.

The "Hinsdale, Illinois" marking on this wrench indicates early production, as the company remained in its Hinsdale location only from 1919 through 1921. Note though that the Hinsdale logo, later trademarked, was already in use by this time.


Fixed Socket Wrenches

In the years before 1920, fixed socket wrenches were among the most important tools for automobile repair. Standard configurations and sizes were available for popular cars (i.e. the Model T), and most service jobs could be performed with a selection of 5 or 10 wrenches. Although the popularity of the fixed socket wrenches declined as interchangeable sockets improved, these tools continued selling well into the 1920s.

Hinsdale is known to have produced a number of models of fixed socket wrenches, based on the listings in the 1924 Western Auto Supply catalog. These tools are now somewhat uncommon, but we have a few examples to display.


9/16 Ell-Shaped Socket Wrench

[Hinsdale 9/16 Ell-Shaped Socket Wrench]
Fig. 5. Hinsdale 9/16 Ell-Shaped Socket Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1919 to Mid 1920s.

Fig. 5 shows a Hinsdale 9/16 Ell-shaped socket wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.


F2 9/16x3/4 Ell Socket Wrench

[Hinsdale F2 9/16x3/4 Ell Socket Wrench]
Fig. 6. Hinsdale F2 9/16x3/4 Ell Socket Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1919 to Mid 1920s.

Fig. 6 shows a Hinsdale F2 9/16x3/4 Ell socket wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 9.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of cadmium plating.


F3 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 Triple Socket Wrench

[Hinsdale F3 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 Triple Socket Wrench]
Fig. 7. Hinsdale F3 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 Triple Socket Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1919 to Mid 1920s.

Fig. 7 shows a Hinsdale F3 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 triple socket wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo shank, with the model number at the left and the opening sizes at the right (see lower inset).

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of cadmium plating.

This wrench was listed on page 117 of the 1924 Ford Owners' Supply Book (Eastern edition) catalog from Western Auto Supply, as part of a group of five wrenches identified by the Hinsdale logo.


F4 11/16 Offset Socket Wrench for Ford Flywheel Capscrews

[Hinsdale F4 11/16 Offset Socket Wrench]
Fig. 8. Hinsdale F4 11/16 Offset Socket Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1919 to Mid 1920s.

Fig. 8 shows a Hinsdale F4 11/16 offset socket wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 11.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

This wrench was designed for servicing the Model T flywheel bolts, a job requiring an offset in the shank to clear obstacles. Similar wrenches by other manufacturers include the Blackhawk 4122 Socket Wrench and Walden 3822 Socket Wrench.

This wrench was listed on page 117 of the 1924 Ford Owners' Supply Book (Eastern edition) catalog from Western Auto Supply, as part of a group of five wrenches identified by the Hinsdale logo.


Early 11/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench for Ford Reverse and Brake Bands

[Hinsdale 5/8x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 9. Hinsdale 11/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1919 to Early 1920s.

Fig. 9 shows an early Hinsdale 11/16 ratcheting box wrench for Ford Model T brake and reverse band adjustment, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is a plain steel.

This type of wrench was very popular for Model T service and similar tools were made by a number of manufacturers. Examples on this site include the Bog Ratcheting Box Wrench and Mossberg 645 Ratcheting Box Wrench.


F-5 11/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench

[Hinsdale F-5 11/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench]
Fig. 10. Hinsdale F-5 11/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1924 to Late 1920s.

Fig. 10 shows a Hinsdale F-5 11/16 ratcheting box wrench intended for Model T brake and reverse band adjustment. The wrench is stamped "Made in U.S.A." and "Hinsdale" with the Round-H-Circle logo embedded, and with a "Pat. Pend." notation below.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with losses due to wear and rust.

The pending status refers to patent #1,650,085, filed by J.W. McDonough in 1924 and issued in 1927. This ratchet wrench has the same design as the model S-15 ratchet in the No. 12B-R Socket Set and the Hinsdale H-1 Ratchet, both shown in previous figures.

The Hinsdale F-5 ratchet wrench is illustrated on page 217 of the 1924 Beckley-Ralston catalog, where it is noted for adjusting Ford (Model T) brake and reverse bands. Interestingly, the illustration includes the patent date "PATD 8-15-22", a reference to patent #1,425,816, issued to V. Van Horn on that date. (This patent date is incorrectly listed as 8-11-22 in AWM2e.) The present tool uses a similar but later patent assigned to Hinsdale Manufacturing.


Early Flex-Socket Wrench

One other early Hinsdale tool deserves mention, although currently it's known only from catalog listings; no examples have been found yet.

The tool is a single-ended flex-socket wrench intended for connecting rod bolts, and is shown on page 219 of the 1924 Beckley-Ralston catalog. No model number is given, but the illustration shows a "Pat. Pend." notation with the Hinsdale Round-H-Circle logo. The corresponding patent has been identified as #1,597,939, issued to F. Wermes in 1926. This tool appears to be significant as the possibly the earliest example of a flex-socket wrench, a form that was later offered by a number of companies including Snap-on, Herbrand, Cornwell, and others.


Other Early Tools


L-10 Slip-Joint Pliers

[Hinsdale No. L-10 Slip-Joint Pliers]
Fig. 11. Hinsdale No. L-10 Slip-Joint Pliers, with Insets for Handle Pattern and Nose Detail.

Fig. 11 shows a pair of Hinsdale slip-joint pliers, with a model number that appears to be "No. L-10", though the marking is unclear. The pliers are marked "Chicago, U.S.A." with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 6.4 inches.

The pliers are constructed of stamped steel, as can be seen from the shear marks visible on the edges. The stamped parts were hardened after pressing, providing a serviceable pair of pliers that probably sold very inexpensively. The finish is plain steel.


Early Socket Sets

Hinsdale's earliest products included socket sets of pressed-steel construction, as sets of this type were very popular as automobile tool kits. After its early production of pressed-steel socket sets, Hinsdale soon moved to producing hex-drive and square-drive socket sets using machined and broached sockets.


Pressed-Steel Socket Sets

By 1922 Hinsdale pressed-steel socket sets were being offered in the Western Auto catalogs, providing our earliest catalog reference for Hinsdale tools. These Hinsdale pressed-steel socket sets are now somewhat rare, but we've been able to acquire one example for display.


Early [No. 12] 1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Socket Set

[1924 Catalog Listing for Hinsdale No. 12 Socket Set]
Fig. 12. 1924 Catalog Listing for Hinsdale No. 12 Socket Set.

In the early 1920s Hinsdale sold pressed-steel socket sets similar to sets from Mossberg and Walden, but with some changes as well. Hinsdale treated the sockets as 1/2 square drive only and did not supply tools for driving the sockets on the outside of the base, as Mossberg, Walden, and many others had done.

Fig. 12 shows a catalog listing for the Hinsdale No. 12 pressed-steel socket set, found on page 116 of the 1924 Ford Owners' Supply Book (Eastern Edition) from Western Auto. The contents of the set are given as a 9 inch ratchet handle, an 8 inch extension, a universal, 14 hex sockets, and 6 square sockets. The illustration of the ratchet closely resembles the Early 1/2-Drive Ratchet shown in another figure. (Presumably a drive plug would have been included with the ratchet.)

The hex socket sizes are listed as 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 23/32, 25/32, 27/32, 29/32, 31/32, 1, 1-1/16, 1-1/8, and 1-1/4. The square socket sizes are given as 19/32, 11/16, 25/32, 31/32, 1, and 1-1/16.

The listed socket sizes show that Hinsdale appears to have abandoned the confusing convention of marking pressed-steel sockets with their oversize allowance, and instead started marking the intended service size. But this change seems to have been in progress at the time -- some of the socket sizes (e.g. 23/32) still reflect the older oversize allowance.

In a 1922 catalog listing for this same set, Hinsdale was still using the older oversize convention for its sockets. Readers can view the 1922 listing for this set as the Hinsdale No. 12 Pressed-Steel Socket Set in our article on Western Auto Supply.

[Hinsdale No. 12 1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Socket Set]
Fig. 13. Hinsdale [No. 12] 1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Socket Set, ca. 1923-1925.

Fig. 13 shows an early Hinsdale [No. 12] 1/2-drive pressed-steel socket set, all neatly contained in a wooden box with an organizer to hold the tools in place. The label on the inside of the lid reads "Hinsdale Manufacturing Company" with "Tools of Quality" and "Chicago", and the Round-H-Circle logo is printed in red between the "Hins" and "Dale".

The tools in the set consist of 14 hex sockets, 6 square sockets, a double-male extension, and a universal joint. The original drive tool would have been the Early 1/2-Drive Ratchet, but was no longer with the set when acquired.

The sockets in the set are all marked on the base with the fractional size, plus "Made in U.S.A." and the Hinsdale Round-H-Circle logo. The hex socket sizes are 3/8, 7/16, 17/32, 9/16, 21/32, 11/16, 3/4, 27/32, 29/32, 31/32, 1-1/32, 1-3/32, 1-1/8, and 1-1/4. Several of the sockets are cracked, in some cases at the hex opening and in others at the drive end.

The square sockets have sizes 1/2, 19/32, 11/16, 25/32, 7/8, and 1-1/4, and are shown in detail in the next figure.

The socket sizes observed in this set reinforce the assumption that Hinsdale was in the process of converting to marking the intended service size. For the hex sockets, 17/32 would have been for 1/2, 21/32 for 5/8, and so on. In the case of the square sockets, 19/32 was actually a useful size but could have been for 9/16, and the 25/32 socket would have been for 3/4. In addition, it appears that some of the sockets have been replaced or substituted by the former owner, as for example the 1-1/4 square socket isn't listed by the catalog.

Since the socket sizes in this set show the changeover to the intended service size, which started after 1922, this set was likely made in 1923-1925.

The Hinsdale No. 12 socket set was listed in the 1922 and 1924 Western Auto catalogs, but no longer appeared in the 1927 catalog.


1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Square Sockets

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Socket Set]
Fig. 14. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Square Sockets, ca. 1923-1925.

Fig. 14 shows the square sockets from the Hinsdale No. 12 pressed-steel socket set, all marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Round-H-Circle logo.

The sizes are, front row from the left, 1/2, 19/32, 11/16, and back row from the left, 25/32, 7/8, and 1-1/4.

Note that the 1/2 square socket would have served as a coupler as well as a socket, to allow the extension to be used with the universal, or for either tool to be used with a male drive handle.


1/2-Drive Forged Universal

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Forged Universal]
Fig. 15. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Forged Universal, ca. 1923-1925.

Fig. 15 shows the Hinsdale 1/2-drive forged universal from the No. H-12 pressed-steel socket set, marked with the Round-H-Circle logo forged into the base of the fork. (The logo resembles a dash between parentheses, somewhat like this "(-)".)

The overall length is 3.3 inches.


Hex-Drive Sockets and Tools

By the mid 1920s Hinsdale was offering compact hex-drive socket sets, typically in a metal box with a sliding lid or in a metal holder.


No. 10B-R 7/16-Hex Drive Socket Set

[Hinsdale No. 10B-R 7/16-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 16. Hinsdale No. 10B-R 7/16-Hex Drive Socket Set, ca. Mid 1920s.

Fig. 16 shows a Hinsdale No. 10B-R 7/16-hex drive socket set as acquired, consisting of a hex Ell-handle and two types of hex-drive sockets. Based on the description in a Hinsdale flyer, this set is missing a ratchet, drive plug, and one standard socket. In addition, the pressed-steel sockets at the left are spurious.

The set is embossed on the lid with "Hinsdale" and the embedded Round-H-Circle logo, with "Made in U.S.A." below. None of the tools are marked, not even for the socket sizes.

The measured socket sizes are, from the right, 1/2, 5/8, 11/16, 25/32, and 7/8. One socket is missing, a 9/16 size.

The tapered steel box has an embossed lid that slides into place to close, a popular style of container for socket sets at the time. The overall length of the box is 9 inches.

One unusual detail for this socket set is the 7/16-hex drive size; more typically such sets were 1/2-drive, or 3/8-drive for smaller sockets. A later Hinsdale advertising flyer lists this set as having 1/2-hex drive, indicating that this example is likely an early production version. The same flyer describes the set as consisting of a ratchet and drive plug, Ell-handle, and six hex sockets with sizes 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, and 7/8.

The "B-R" marking on the right hand side of the lid requires a bit of explanation. In earlier versions of this article, we incorrectly interpreted this marking as indicating a set sold by the Beckley-Ralston Company, a large distributor-dealer of automobile accessories and related products. We later acquired a Hinsdale advertising flyer with listings for both 10B and 10B-R socket sets, the 10B with just an Ell-handle ("Bar") and the 10B-R with both Ell-handle and ratchet. Thus the "B-R" is now understood to be just part of the model number, to indicate a set with a ratchet included. It's still the case that Beckley-Ralston was a distributor of Hinsdale products, but the socket set markings do not indicate a specific distributor.


S-15 7/16-Hex Drive Ratchet

[Hinsdale S-15 7/16-Hex Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 17. Hinsdale S-15 7/16-Hex Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. Mid 1920s.

Fig. 17 shows Hinsdale S-15 7/16-hex drive ratchet, stamped "Made in U.S.A." and "Hinsdale" with the Round-H-Circle logo embedded, and with a "Pat. Pend." notation below.

The overall length is 8.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of the original nickel plating.

The pending status refers to patent #1,650,085, filed by J.W. McDonough in 1924 and issued in 1927.

Although not acquired with the set, this ratchet is the correct size and style for the No. 10B-R 7/16-hex drive socket set shown in the previous figure.

Note that Hinsdale also offered the model S-15 ratchet with a 1/2-hex drive broaching, as seen in the No. 12B-R 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set. Based on a Hinsdale advertising flyer which offered both No. 10B-R and No. 12B-R sets in the 1/2-hex drive size, the 7/16-hex drive of this example can be taken as an indication of earlier production.


No. 12B-R 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set

[Hinsdale No. 12B-R 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 18. Hinsdale No. 12B-R 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set, ca. Mid to Late 1920s.

In Fig. 18 we see a slightly later Hinsdale No. 12B-R 1/2-hex drive socket set, consisting of an S-15 ratchet with C-3 drive stud, a C-1 hex Ell-handle, and nine hex sockets.

The socket sizes are, from the right top, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, 25/32, and 7/8 inch. The sockets are all marked with the fractional size, and some have a "C" prefix to form a part number. For example, the 1/2 socket is marked "C-1/2".

The ratchet in this set is marked as model S-15 and has a "Pat. Pend." notation on the handle. After a search of the patent records, the corresponding patent was found to be #1,650,085, issued to John W. McDonough on November 22, 1927, with assignment to Hinsdale Manufacturing. As the patent was filed in 1924, the pending status would suggest that this particular ratchet was manufactured between 1924 and 1927. However, no ratchets have been observed with the issued patent number or date marked.

The "B-R" marking on the right hand side of the lid indicates that the set includes both an Ell-handle ("Bar") and a ratchet. In a very early version of this article we incorrectly interpreted this marking as indicating a set sold by the Beckley-Ralston Company, a large distributer-dealer of automobile accessories that used a "B-R" logo.


1/2-Hex Drive Sockets from the Hinsdale No. 12B-R Set

[Hex Sockets from No. 12B-R Socket Set]
Fig. 19. Hex Sockets from the Hinsdale No. 12B-R Socket Set, ca. Mid to Late 1920s.

Fig. 19 shows the 1/2-hex drive sockets from the No. 12B-R set. The sizes are, from the left, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, 25/32, and 7/8 inch, and the sockets are stamped with the Round-H-Circle logo.

The construction is typical for this type of set: thin-walled sockets made of hardened steel, with a knurled band in the center.


No. 00 1/2-Hex Drive Compact Socket Set

[Hinsdale No. 00 Socket Set]
Fig. 20. Hinsdale No. 00 Socket Set, with Inset for Top View, ca. Mid to Late 1920s.

Fig. 20 shows a 1/2-hex drive Hinsdale No. 00 socket set in a compact metal holder, consisting of an Ell-handle, an S-15 ratchet, a drive plug, and eight hex sockets. The retaining clip is marked with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo, plus the "No. 00" set number and a "Pat. Pend." notice.

The hex sockets have sizes 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, 25/32, and 7/8 inch. (The original 3/4 socket was missing when the set was acquired, so this socket was borrowed from the No. 12 set above for the photograph.)

The sockets are all marked with the fractional size, but only two (excluding the borrowed socket) are marked with the Round-H-Circle logo, and the 19/32 socket is marked with a "C-19/32" model number.

The patent pending notice probably refers to a patent filed for the socket set holder, but the corresponding patent (if issued) has not yet been found.


1/2-Hex Drive Sockets from the Hinsdale No. 00 Set

[Sockets from Hinsdale No. 00 Socket Set]
Fig. 21. Sockets from Hinsdale No. 00 Socket Set, ca. Mid to Late 1920s.

Fig. 21 shows the eight hex sockets from the Hinsdale No. 00 set.

The sizes are, from the right, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, 25/32, and 7/8.


Square-Drive Socket Sets

By 1923 or 1924 Hinsdale had begun producing heavy-wall machined sockets and heavy-duty drive tools, as it became apparent that stronger tools would be needed for typical automobile repairs.


Early 1/2-Drive 20-Piece Socket Set

[Early Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 22. Early Hinsdale 1/2-Drive 20-Piece Socket Set, ca. 1924.

Fig. 22 shows a significant early Hinsdale 1/2-drive socket set, consisting of a ratchet with drive stud, an extension, a universal, and 16 heavy-wall machined sockets (with one missing).

The label on the inside of the lid is worn away in one area, but reads "Hinsdale Manufacturing Company" with "Tools of Quality" and "Chicago". The Round-H-Circle logo appears in red between the "Hins" and "Dale". The small line at the top notes that the trademark had been registered.

The ratchet is notable in its patent date of August 15, 1922, corresponding to patent #1,425,816, the earliest of the patents used by Hinsdale. Based on this early patent, this set is believed to be one of the first Hinsdale sets to use square-drive machined sockets.

Later Hinsdale socket sets are usually found with the more robust Model H-1 ratchet shown later in this article, which was based on a patent filed in 1924. The relatively thin sheet-metal head of the present ratchet was not a sufficient match for the stronger sockets.

Of the other drive tools, the double-female universal is marked with model H-3, and appears to be substantially the same as the later H-3 universal shown below. The extension is marked "2" and has a square shaft with pinched tabs, a characteristic of early drive tools.

The manufacturing date for this particular set can be estimated rather precisely by a "squeeze play" of patent and trademark dates. The early ratchet in this set was superseded by the more robust Model H-1 ratchet developed in 1924, indicating production in 1924 or before. In addition, the decal on the lid has a small line at the top noting that the trademark had been registered, which occurred in 1924. The intersection of these ranges gives 1924 as the likely manufacturing date.


1/2-Drive Ratchet with Early Patent

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Ratchet with Early Patent]
Fig. 23. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Ratchet with Early Patent, ca. 1924.

Fig. 23 shows the early ratchet from the set, stamped with "Made in U.S.A." curved around the Hinsdale logo, and with the "Pat. Aug. 15 1922" patent date.

The overall length is 9.2 inches.

The drive plug for the ratchet was unmarked, but is comparable to the model 3 1/2 plug shown below.

The patent date noted on the ratchet corresponds to patent #1,425,816, filed in 1921 by V.J. van Horn and issued in 1922.


1/2-Drive H-2 Extension

[Hinsdale H-2 1/2-Drive Extension]
Fig. 24. Hinsdale H-2 1/2-Drive Extension, ca. 1924.

Fig. 24 shows the H-2 extension from the set, stamped with the Hinsdale logo and "2" as model H-2.

The overall length is 7.5 inches.

This early extension has a square shaft with pinched tabs as stops, which was typical construction for this type of tool in the early 1920s.


Early 1/2-Drive 6-Point Sockets

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Sockets from Early Set]
Fig. 25. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Sockets from Early Set, ca. 1924.

Fig. 25 shows a selection of the 6-point sockets from the set, all marked with the Hinsdale Round-H-Circle logo and the fractional size. (The sizes are on the opposite side, not visible in the photograph.)

The sizes are, from the left in front, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, and 1/2, and in the back, 13/16, 7/8, 15/16, and 1 inch.

The full set included 15 hex sockets from 5/16 up to 1 inch, and one square socket of size 1/2.

These sockets are very similar to those in later 1/2-drive sets, as shown in the 1/2-drive 6-point sockets below.


H-1 1/2-Drive Lever-Action Ratchet

[Hinsdale H-1 Ratchet]
Fig. 26. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive H-1 Ratchet with "Pat. Pend.", ca. 1924 to Late 1920s.

Fig. 26 shows a Hinsdale H-1 1/2-drive ratchet acquired with a set of other Hinsdale 1/2-drive tools.

The overall length is 9.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

In this ratchet design the pawl tooth is part of the handle, which pivots around the larger pin to either engage the gear or release it completely. The ratchet was typically used with an H-3-1/2 drive plug (see Extension and Drive Plug below) but could be used with a double-male extension as well.

This ratchet has the same design as the Model S-15 Ratchet shown with the No. 12B-R socket set, and also happens to be marked with a "Pat. Pend." notation. The ratchets are covered by patent #1,650,085, filed in 1924 and issued in 1927, which would suggest a manufacturing date in the range 1924-1927. However, no ratchets have been observed with the patent number or date marked.


TL-1 1/2-Drive Convertible Tee- and Ell-Handle

[Hinsdale TL-1 1/2-Drive Tee and Ell-Handle]
Fig. 27. Hinsdale TL-1 1/2-Drive Tee- and Ell-Handle, ca. 1923 to Early 1930s.

Fig. 27 shows a Hinsdale model TL-1 1/2-drive "convertible" Tee- and Ell-handle, stamped "Made in U.S.A." and "Pat. Apld. For" with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

The metal sheath slides down the handle and can be turned at right angles to make a Tee-handle, or used at the long end as an Ell-handle. An example of the tool in its Tee position can be see as the TL-1 Tee-Handle.

This tool has a "Pat. Apld. For" notation as was the case with the H-1 ratchet. After a lengthy search of the patent records, the patent was found to be #1,597,747, filed by F. Wermes in 1923 and issued on August 31, 1926. The patent dates would suggest an estimated production date in the range 1923-1926; however, all known examples of this tool have been found with the patent applied marking, rather than a patent date or number.

Duro Metal Products made a similar convertible Tee- and Ell-handle, an example of which can be seen as the Duro No. 660 Convertible LT Handle. Duro took a different approach in their version, and one significant difference is that the metal sheath can be completely removed from the handle bar, whereas Hinsdale's tool has metal tabs on the handle to prevent removal.

Although the two companies' convertible handles look very similar, the sheaths do differ in some details. Hinsdale's sheath is open along the entire edge and slopes gradually from the ends to a point in the center. Duro's sheath is wrapped into a circular section at the ends, but is open in the center area and slopes from an intermediate point to the center.

Some readers may wonder why we're reporting such small differences in mind-numbing detail, but there's a very specific reason. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Sears Roebuck sold socket sets from both Duro and Hinsdale, though not necessarily under each company's name. The Sears catalogs can provide a valuable snapshot of the socket sets produced by these companies, but only when a set illustrated in the catalog can be attributed to a specific maker. Making such an attribution requires close attention to seemingly insignificant details, such as the shape of the sheath on a convertible handle.


1/2-Drive H-2 Extension and H-3-1/2 Drive Plug

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive H-2 Extension and H-3-1/2 Drive Plug]
Fig. 28. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive H-2 Extension and H-3-1/2 Drive Plug, ca. 1924 to Late 1920s.

Fig. 28 shows a Hinsdale H-2 8 inch double-male extension and an H-3-1/2 drive plug, both for 1/2-drive and both marked with the Round-H-Circle logo.

Overall lengths are 1.3 inches for the drive plug and 7.8 inches for the extension.

These pieces were part of the set that included the H-1 ratchet and TL-1 Tee and Ell-handle shown above.


6-Point 1/2-Drive Sockets

[Hinsdale 6-Point Sockets]
Fig. 29. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive 6-Point Sockets, from Left: 11/32, 1/2, 3/4, 1", ca. 1924 to Late 1920s.

Fig. 29 shows a representative selection of the 1/2-drive 6-point sockets from the set with the H-1 ratchet and TL-1 breaker described above. The sockets are marked with the Hinsdale Round-H-Circle logo and the fractional size, with sizes ranging from 5/16 to 1-1/8. (The set included a number of 4-point sockets as well.)

The knurled band in the center is coarse enough that it could be considered functional, to assist with turning the socket by hand.

The sockets have typical early construction: the openings were first machined, then broached, and finally hardened. The finish appears to be a nickel plate, and rather well done for sockets dating to the mid-1920s.

[Hinsdale Sockets Showing Broaching Details]
Fig. 30. Closeup of Hinsdale 1/2-Drive 6-Point Sockets, from Left: 3/4, 1".

Fig. 30 shows a closeup of the inside of the larger sockets to illustrate the construction. The center of the flats show tooling marks where the interior was first drilled out. A careful look at the shelf below the broached area shows dents below the broached corners, showing that the broaching was done after all of the boring and turning operations.


H-3 1/2-Drive Universal

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive H-3 Universal Joint]
Fig. 31. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive H-3 Double-Female Universal Joint, ca. 1924-1926.

Fig. 31 shows a Hinsdale 1/2-drive H-3 double-female universal joint, again from the same set of tools as the ratchet and sockets described above.


DR-1 1/2-Drive 13 Inch Short Speeder

[Hinsdale DR-1 1/2-Drive Short Speeder]
Fig. 32. Hinsdale DR-1 1/2-Drive Short Speeder, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. Mid 1920s to Early 1930s.

Fig. 32 shows a Hinsdale 1/2-drive DR-1 short speeder with a knurled end piece, stamped with the "Hinsdale" name and embedded Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 13 inches.

Note that the drive end has a raised shoulder (as a stop) on only one facet of the square, rather than on all four. This seems to have been a characteristic of Hinsdale production.


DS-1 1/2-Drive 19 Inch Long Speeder

[Hinsdale DS-1 1/2-Drive Long Speeder]
Fig. 33. Hinsdale DS-1 1/2-Drive Long Speeder, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. Mid 1920s to Early 1930s.

Fig. 33 shows a 1/2-drive Hinsdale DS-1 speeder, stamped with the "Hinsdale" name and embedded Round-H-Circle logo. This speeder has a knurled end piece and an overall length of 18.9 inches.

The two speeders were acquired separately from the H-1 ratchet and socket set above, so their time relationship with the other tools is unknown. The DS-1 model has a heavy nickel plate finish and appears to be of later production than the DR-1 example; though the manufacturing dates are uncertain, these tools were likely made in the 1920s.


G-20 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[1927 Catalog Listing for Hinsdale G-20 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
1927 Catalog Listing for Hinsdale G-20 1/2-Drive Socket Set.

The scan at the left illustrates the Hinsdale G-20 1/2-drive socket set, as shown on page 115 of the 1927 Western Auto (Eastern edition) catalog. This set was also offered on page 113 of the 1926 Western Auto (Eastern edition) catalog.

This popular collection consisted of long and short speeders, a ratchet, a T-L handle, long and short extensions, a universal, 19 hex sockets, 8 square sockets, and a valve grinding adapter.

If you look closely at the illustration you can see "Hinsdale G-20" on the end of the box.

We have a Hinsdale G-20 set in good condtion and are preparing it for display.

Fig. 34. Hinsdale G-20 Socket Set To Be Added.


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