Alloy Artifacts  

King Pressed Steel & Manufacturing Company

King Pressed Steel & Manufacturing was a maker of socket sets and automobile accessories active during the early 1920s. The company was located in Newton, Massachusetts, a city in the suburbs of Boston. (Newton is a mostly residential city, but has had some light industry over its long history.)

A notice of the company's incorporation can be found on page 1090 [External Link] of the April 8, 1920 edition of the Iron Trade Review, which lists the founders as Joseph F. King, Amato Pescosolido, and Rocco Sementilli. The capital was stated as $50,000.

The location was noted only as Newton, Massachusetts, but page 332 of the 1922 Massachusetts Manufacturers' Directory gave the address as 13 Hawthorn Street in Newton. This directory noted six employees and a business of steel stampings and auto accessories.

A 1920 issue of The Iron Age also noted that the company had been chartered as a maker of automobile accessories.

Although King Pressed Steel is known mostly for its socket sets (if it is known at all!), the company also made other automobile-related products.

[1920 Notice for King Valve Lifter]
Fig. 225. 1920 Notice for King Valve Lifter. [External Link]

Fig. 225 shows a notice for a valve lifter tool, as published on page 84 of the October, 1920 issue of the Accessory and Garage Journal.

The text decribes the use of the valve lifter tool for servicing Ford engines.


King Socket Sets

By April of 1921 the company was offering socket sets for automobile service, with sockets turned from bar steel and then broached and hardened.

[1921 Notice for King Socket Wrenches]
Fig. 226. 1921 Notice for King Socket Wrenches. [External Link]

Fig. 226 shows a notice for the company's socket wrench set, as published on page 37 of the April 1, 1921 edition of the Automobile Trade Journal.

The text describes the King socket wrench set, which consisted of a Tee handle, an offset handle, an extension, a universal, and 12 sockets*. The illustration shows the set in a finger-jointed wooden box. (The text continues in the original document beyond what is shown in our clip.)

Although not mentioned in the description, the set was based on 7/16-hex drive tools. The Tee handle was designed with a 7/16 hex opening in the center and at one end, with the other end broached for 3/8 hex. The end broachings allowed the Tee handle to be used as a straight driver handle (with the extension) or as a 3/8 hexagon socket. (*The count of 12 sockets was a bit deceptive, as it included the ends of the Tee handle as "sockets".)

The description also mentions a patented compact universal joint, but we have not yet located the patent.

An early advertisement for the above set can be seen on page 275 of the April 7, 1921 issue of Motor Age. The company used the tag line "For Every Nut On Every Car!" in its ads.

The most glaring weakness of the set was the lack of a ratchet. From the dawn of the automobile age, socket sets had almost always included some kind of a ratchet — think Auto-Clé, Miller "Giant", Syracuse Wrench "Champion", Bay State Autokit, Walden-Worcester, Lane "Unique", and so on. Another potential weakness was that the 7/16-hex drive tools were at best suitable only for light work.

Note that despite the "Pressed Steel" in the company name, the sockets were described as machined and broached from bar steel, and none of the other tools were made of stamped or pressed steel.

Metal Stamping

However, the company did have facilities for metal stamping, as the advertisement in the next figure shows.

[1922 Ad for King Pressed Steel Stampings]
Fig. 227. 1922 Ad for King Pressed Steel Stampings. [External Link]

Fig. 227 shows an ad soliciting business for the company's stamping operations, as published on page 66 of the July 6, 1922 issue of The Iron Age.


Chessboards and Clam-Shell Cases

In early 1922 King Pressed Steel made a splash with full-page advertisements for their newly packaged socket sets. The sets were now being provided in clam-shell metal cases decorated with a chessboard design, and the interior of the case was furnished with a wooden insert to organize the tools.

[1922 Ad for King Socket Wrenches]
Fig. 228. 1922 Ad for King Socket Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 228 shows an example of a full-page ad, as published on page 123 [External Link] of the January, 1922 issue of Hardware World.

Note the company's motto "for every nut on every car" at the lower left corner.

The company continued its advertising blitz with smaller ads appearing every month in this same publication.

Despite the attractive new packaging, the tools in the socket sets were the same as before, with the same weaknesses noted above. Thus we could regard the adoption of consumer-oriented packaging as a tacit admission that the tools would not hold up to the demands of professional use.

With the fancy new clam-shell cases, we can see that King Pressed Steel was finally pressing some steel.

Socket sets with 7/16-hex drive are not very common, and most of our other examples were made by Bog Manufacturing, such as the Bog "Jumbo" Set from later in the 1920s. The "Jumbo" set was also supplied in a clam-shell case, with an insert for organizing the tools similar to the King sets.

The Bog sets were sold through Western Auto Supply (Bog was basically the "house brand" for Western Auto), which raises the question as to whether the King sets were ever offered by Western Auto. We can't recall having seen them in the catalogs, but will check again as time permits.


Financial Problems in 1923

By late in 1923 business was not going well for King Pressed Steel and the company was in financial trouble. Their problems began when three creditors seeking payment of $1,985 filed a petition for bankruptcy.

[1923 Notice of Bankruptcy Petition]
Fig. 229. 1923 Notice of Bankruptcy Petition. [External Link]

Fig. 229 shows a notice of a bankruptcy petition on behalf of three creditors, as published on page 1405 of the November 22, 1923 issue of Iron Trade.

From there, things went downhill quickly.

[1923 Notice of Bankruptcy Auction]
Fig. 230. 1923 Notice of Bankruptcy Auction. [External Link]

Fig. 230 shows a notice announcing a court-ordered public auction of the estate of King Pressed Steel, as published on page 1724 of the December 27, 1923 issue of The Iron Age.

Some time later, King Pressed Steel & Mfg. was mentioned in the Chapter 213 [External Link] section for corporate dissolutions, part of the Massachusetts Acts and Resolves of the General Court for 1925.

With the court-ordered auction to satisfy the creditors and subsequent dissolution, it would seem that our drama has come to an abrupt end. But we'll invoke deus ex machina and magically allow King Pressed Steel to continue operations. (More on this below.)

The King socket sets were still available in 1924, based on a listing in the Waterhouse & Lester catalog of that year.

[Catalog Listing for King Socket Set A]
Fig. 231. 1924 Catalog Listing for King Socket Set "A".

The scan in Fig. 231 shows a catalog listing for the "King Socket Wrench Set", as published on page 362 of the 1924 Waterhouse & Lester catalog No. 20.

The King socket set was also listed on page 166 of the 1926 catalog No. 25 from J.M. Waterston of Detroit.

A Chilton Buyer's Guide Directory from 1929 listed the company at 13 Hawthorn Street in Newton, Massachusetts.

The Second Life of King Pressed Steel

How does a company come back to life after being dismembered by public auction and officially dissolved? We don't have a definitive answer, but can offer a clue in the acronym "dba".

A Google search for the founders of King Pressed Steel turns up some interesting references. It seems that in 1924 two of the original founders, along with a new partner, created a new company called Newton Pressed Steel & Mfg. in Newton.

[1924 Notice for Newton Pressed Steel]
Fig. 232. 1924 Notice for Newton Pressed Steel.

Fig. 232 shows a notice for Newton Pressed Steel & Mfg., as published on page 1585 of the June 12, 1924 issue of Iron Trade.

Further searches show that a prior incarnation of Newton Pressed Steel existed as early as 1919, with Amato Pescosolido as president, but that this first version of the company had been dissolved by 1923.

With the knowledge of the creation of the second Newton Pressed Steel, we can surmise that the founders had purchased the production equipment of King Pressed Steel at the bankruptcy auction in late 1923, then put it back into operation with their new company.

Since the King brand had been advertised extensively and had some degree of brand recognition, it would have made sense to continue using the King name for their products. In this arrangement Newton Pressed Steel dba ("doing business as") King Pressed Steel would allow King products to remain on the market, even without a formal King Pressed Steel entity.

We're probably missing some details, but regarding Newton Pressed Steel as effectively the successor to King Pressed Steel would explain the continued availability of the King socket sets. We'll add more details as they become available.


Early King Socket Set

After seeing the ads for the fancy chessboard cases, some readers will be disappointed to learn that our set is apparently an early example, and it's in a plain box which is probably not even original. But the set is complete and provides a snapshot of the company's early production.

[King 7/16-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 233. King Pressed Steel 7/16-Hex Drive Socket Set, ca. 1921.

Fig. 233 shows a King 7/16-hex drive socket set, consisting of an Ell handle, a Tee handle bar, a universal, a long extension, and 10 hexagon sockets from 7/16 to 7/8.

The Tee handle bar and the Ell handle are stamped "King Pressed Steel & Mfg. Co." and "Boston 58, Mass. U.S.A." on the shank. The other tools are unmarked, except for a small "crown" logo stamped on the sockets.

The socket sizes are, from the left, 7/8, 13/16, 25/32, 19/32, 3/4, 11/16, 5/8, 9/16, 1/2, and 7/16. The sockets are marked only with a small crown logo, without even the fractional size, which is a bit of a nuisance.

The 7/16 socket was intended both as a service socket and as a connector, to allow the extension to work with the Ell handle.

The Tee handle bar is broached with 7/16-hex openings in the center and at one end, with a 3/8 broached opening at the other end. The extra openings allow it to be used as a straight driver (with the extension) or as a 3/8 socket (with the Ell handle).

The extension (not shown separately) is 9.3 inches long.

We acquired the set in the metal box shown in the photograph, but it's probably not the original box. (This type of folded and spot-welded box didn't become common until the late 1920s or 1930s.) We think it's likely that the set originally came in a wooden box, and when the box fell apart, the former owner moved the tools into this box.

The dimensions of the box are 10.9 inches wide by 3.8 inches deep by 1.7 inches high.


King 7/16-Hex Drive Ell Handle

[King 7/16-Hex Drive Ell Handle]
Fig. 234. King 7/16-Hex Drive Ell Handle from Socket Set, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1921.

Fig. 234 shows the 7/16-hex drive Ell handle from the King socket Set, stamped with "King Pressed Steel & Mfg." and "Boston 58, Mass. U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 8.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


King 7/16-Hex Drive Tee Handle Bar

[King 7/16-Hex Drive Tee Handle Bar]
Fig. 235. King 7/16-Hex Drive Tee Handle Bar, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1921.

Fig. 235 shows the 7/16-hex drive Tee handle bar from the King socket Set, stamped "King Pressed Steel & Mfg." and "Boston 58, Mass. U.S.A." along the bar, with a small "Crown" logo above.

The photograph shows the 7/16 hexagonal opening in the center of the bar. The ends of the bar are broached for 7/16 and 3/8 hexagonal openings (not shown).

The overall length is 6.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The typical use for this tool would be as a Tee handle, with the extension fitted in the center opening. The extra openings in the ends of the bar would also allow it to be used as a straight driver, or as a strange kind of 3/8 socket.


King 7/16-Hex Drive Universal

[King 7/16-Hex Drive Universal]
Fig. 236. King 7/16-Hex Drive Universal, ca. 1921.

Fig. 236 shows the unmarked 7/16-hex drive universal from the King socket Set. The universal is configured as male-female, so that it can connect directly to one of the sockets.

The overall length is 2.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The universal seems to be well made, but it's not obvious that there are any patentable features.


King 7/16-Hex Drive Sockets

[King 7/16-Hex Drive Sockets]
Fig. 237. King 7/16-Hex Drive Sockets, with Inset for Top View, ca. 1921.

Fig. 237 shows the three largest sockets from the King socket Set, marked only with a stamped "crown" logo. The sizes are, from the left, 7/8, 13/16, and 25/32.

The sockets have a wide groove with a gentle radius at the base, an unusual feature that may have been simply decorative, or possibly intended to make the sockets easier to pick up with greasy hands.

The inset shows the broached interior of the sockets. Note the irregular mass of chips at the bottom of the broached area, possibly a sign of early production.


Larco Wrench & Manufacturing Company

Larco Wrench & Manufacturing was founded in Chicago around 1919 as a maker of pipe wrenches, pipe cutters, and related tools. The founder was John V. Larson, whose surname put the "Lar" in Larco. The company was initially located at 213 West Austin Avenue in Chicago.

[1920 Listing for Larco Wrench]
Fig. 238. 1920 Listing for Larco Wrench & Manufacturing. [External Link]

Fig. 238 shows the entry for Larco Wrench & Manufacturing on page 537 of the 1920 Certified List of Domestic and Foreign Corporations, published by the State of Illinois.

[1922 Listing for Larco Wrench]
Fig. 239. 1922 Listing for Larco Wrench & Manufacturing. [External Link]

Fig. 239 shows the entry for Larco Wrench & Manufacturing on page 677 of the 1922 Certified List of Domestic and Foreign Corporations, published by the State of Illinois.

The officers are listed as John V. Larson and Winsor Chase.

Note that by 1922 the capital for the company had increased from $150,000 to $250,000, suggesting that a new investor had joined the company.

[1919 Ad for Larco Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 240. 1919 Ad for Larco Pipe Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 240 shows a full-page ad for the Larco pipe and monkey wrenches, as published on page 46 of the June 28, 1919 issue of Domestic Engineering.

Somewhat curiously, the ad was taken out by John V. Larson personally, suggesting that the company was still getting organized at this point.

The Larco pipe wrench was based on patents by Charles A. Dies, an inventor with a number of patents related to pipe fittings and pipe wrenches.

Patent 1,155,136 was issued in September of 1915 and describes a pipe wrench that can also be used as a pipe cutter. One of our readers reports that this patent date is marked on the jaw of every Larco pipe wrench.

Patent 1,389,581 was issued in September of 1921 with assignment to John V. Larson. This latter patent was filed in March of 1919, around the time that Larco Wrench was being formed, suggesting that it may have provided the basis for the company.

[1920 Notice for Larco Pipe and Monkey Wrench]
Fig. 241. 1920 Notice for Larco Pipe and Monkey Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 241 shows a notice for the Larco pipe and monkey wrenches, as published on page 165 of the December 1, 1920 issue of Automobile Trade Journal.

[1922 Ad for Larco Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 242. 1922 Ad for Larco Pipe Wrench.

The scan in Fig. 242 shows an advertisement for the Larco pipe wrench, as published on page 137 of the October, 1922 edition of Rock Island Magazine. (The ad has been rotated 90 degrees clockwise from its published orientation.)

This ad has a stunningly clear illustration that shows an interesting production detail for the Larco wrench. Note that the seam where the jaw carrier closes has meshing dovetail cutouts to provide extra strength.


Acquisition of Cochran Pipe Wrench

In 1920 Larco purchased the plant and wrench business of Cochran Pipe Wrench Manufacturing, including the Cochran pipe wrench and the "Speednut" wrench. By that time the Cochran company had changed its name to Cochran Manufacturing & Forging, and the forging business had recently been reorganized into the Great Lakes Forge Company.

[1920 Notice for Larco Wrench]
Fig. 243. 1920 Notice for Larco Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 243 shows a notice of the purchase by Larco Wrench of a forging plant on Woodland Avenue, as published on page 40 of the July 31, 1920 issue of Chicago Commerce.

A later notice clarifies that the purchased plant was that of Cochran Manufacturing & Forging, and that the purchase included the Cochran wrench business as well.

[1920 Notice for Larco Wrench]
Fig. 244. 1920 Notice for Larco Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 244 shows a notice of the purchase of the Cochran Mfg. and Forging plant and business, as published on page 1707 of the December 23, 1920 issue of The Iron Age.

The text also notes that the forging business of the Cochran company had been reorganized as the Great Lakes Forge Company at 119th Street and Racine Avenue in Chicago.

Based on notices in trade journals, it appears that the purchase of the Cochran factory and business was primarily intended to increase the production capacity for Larco's own products. But Larco Wrench did announce its intention to continue production of the Cochran pipe wrench and Speednut wrench.

A Management Change

By 1923 the management of Larco Wrench had changed. An entry for Larco Wrench & Manufacturing on page 528 [External Link] of the 1923 edition of the EMF Electrical Year Book notes the company as a maker of wrenches and drop forgings, and lists the management as president F.F. Corby, vice-president B.T. Bochtel, secretary-treasurer Winsor Chase, and general manager H.E. Robertson.

Note that John V. Larson, the company's founder and president in 1922, is no longer listed at all.


The Second Life of the Speednut Wrench

Within a few years of the acquisition of the Cochran company, it appears that Larco's founder John V. Larson had become keenly interested in (if not downright obsessed with) the Speednut wrench. Larson made a minor improvement to the wrench by adding an external spring to bias the head, and then worked on a more refined switchable spring mechanism.

By 1924 Larson had gone a far as setting up the Speednut Wrench Corporation to promote the improved wrench.

[1924 Ad for Speednut Wrench]
Fig. 245. 1924 Ad for Speednut Wrench.

Fig. 245 shows a full-page ad for the Speednut wrench, as published on page 165 of the August, 1924 issue of Popular Mechanics.

A close look at the illustration shows that it cites a May 2, 1916 patent date as well as noting a pending patent. The pending patent was 1,602,620, filed by John V. Larson in 1924 and issued in 1926.

Another close look at the illustration shows a small tab protruding from the handle, visible just to the upper right of the "D" in "GUARANTEED". This tab allowed an external spring to be used to bias the head in the closed position, which made the wrench somewhat easier to use.

Larson developed a more elegant spring bias mechanism and filed a patent for it in 1924 (the pending patent noted), but the earlier wrench in the illustration used the outboard spring.

We think that the establishment of the Speednut Wrench Corporation is closely connected to the management change noted previously. There seem to be two main possibilities: Larson may have resigned from Larco to spend more time on Speednut marketing, or Larson may have been booted from the company by the other investors.

In either case the question comes up as to whether Larson was able to acquire the patent and trademark rights (and possibly production equipment) for the Speednut wrench as part of his departure. Copyright records indicate that Larson was the owner of the Speednut Wrench Corporation, but we haven't found any records to indicate a transfer of patent or trademark rights.


Financial Failure

By 1928 Larco Wrench & Manufacturing had gone bankrupt, and the assets of the company (including patents) were sold at auction on March 2, 1928.

[1928 Notice of Bankruptcy Auction]
Fig. 246. 1928 Notice of Bankruptcy Auction. [External Link]

Fig. 246 shows a notice of the sale of the assets of Larco Wrench, as published on page 667 of the March 8, 1928 issue of the Iron Trade Review.

But wait! There's more ... please see our article on Chicago Manufacturing & Distributing to learn about the third life of the Speednut wrench.


Postscript: The Larc-O-Matic Wrench

The failure of Larco Wrench seems not to have daunted Larson's enthusiasm for the Speednut wrench. Within a few years he had received patent 1,830,033, ostensibly for improvements to the Speednut design, but really just a codification of the design differences from the original Eifel patent. This patent seems to have been intended primarily to keep the wrench under patent protection.

A decade later Larson got yet another patent for the Speednut design, and the wrench went back into production under the name Larc-O-Matic! We'll add details as time permits ...

[1945 Notice for Larc-O-Matic Line of Tools]
Fig. 247. 1945 Notice for Larc-O-Matic Line of Tools.

The scan in Fig. 247 under the heading "New line of Hand Tools" describes a new series of tools to be offered by the Oscar W. Hedstrom Corporation, as published on page 30 of the September, 1945 edition of Mechanical Engineering.

The tool series was developed by John V. Larson and includes the "Larc-O-Matic" wrench, a companion "Speed-O-Matic" wrench, the "Rockerench" pipe wrench, the "Fulco-Matic" automatic "plierench", the "Grip-o" companion to "Rockerench", and the "Over-Grip" nut wrench.

[1946 Notice for Larc-O-Matic Wrench]
Fig. 248. 1946 Notice for Larc-O-Matic Wrench.

The scan in Fig. 248 describes the new "Larc-O-Matic" self-adjusting wrench available from the Oscar W. Hedstrom Corporation, as published on page 106 of the May 13, 1946 edition of Steel.


Patents

Larco Wrench & Mfg.: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
1,155,136 C.A. Dies02/09/191409/28/1915 Pipe Wrench with Pipe Cutter Jaws
This patent date was marked on the jaw of Larco wrenches
The pipe cutter option is not known to have been made
D48,996 W.W. Taylor05/07/191505/02/1916 Design for Wrench ("Speednut")
1,389,581 C.A. Dies03/27/191909/06/1921 Pipe Wrench
Assigned to John V. Larson
1,495,751 J.V. Larson11/10/192205/27/1924 Pipe Wrench
Assigned to Armstrong Bros. Tool Company
1,602,620 J.V. Larson et al08/30/192410/12/1926 Automatic Nut Wrench
8 Inch Speednut Wrench
1,830,033 J.V. Larson03/26/193111/03/1931 Automatic Nut Wrench
8 Inch Speednut Wrench
2,351,821 J.V. Larson04/06/194206/20/1944 Self-Adjusting Wrench ("Larc-O-Matic")
2,713,280 J.V. Larson11/16/195107/19/1955 Self-Closing Wrench ("Trig-O-Matic")

Trademarks

Larco Wrench & Manufacturing: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
LARCO 131,336 04/07/191910/27/1919 05/11/1920 For wrenches, pipe cutters, clamps, and lathe dogs.
Serial 124,220. Published February 24, 1920.
Trig-O-Matic   06/08/194907/13/1949   For adjustable open-end wrenches, adjustable pipe wrenches, self-closing pliers.
Filed by John V. Larson, Chicago
Serial 581,878. Published July 4, 1950.

Selected Tools

Currently we don't have any examples of Larco tools to display. Larco Wrench & Manufacturing has been added to our coverage as an important bridge between the early Cochran Speednut wrenches and the later production by Chicago Manufacturing & Distributing. An example of this later production can be seen as the C.M.&D. Speednut Wrench.

Products by Larco Wrench & Manufacturing would include Larco brand pipe wrenches, as well as Speednut wrenches showing the 1926 Larson patent, but without the later 1931 patent.


Larson Tool & Stamping Company

The Larson Tool & Stamping Company was founded in 1920 in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The company's early products included a line of pressed-steel socket sets and stamped metal items such as nameplates for automobiles.

A notice of incorporation for Larson Tool & Stamping can be found on page 1090 [External Link] of the April 8, 1920 issue of the Iron Trade Review. The notice states that the company was founded with $150,000 capital to make metal goods, and the founders are listed as N.G. Larson, Carl G. Larson, and C. Wallace Cederberg.

The "metal goods" noted at the company's incorporation turned out to be pressed-steel socket sets and other automotive tools.

[1920 Ad for Larson Tool & Stamping]
Fig. 249. 1920 Advertisement for Larson Tool & Stamping.

Fig. 249 shows a full-page advertisement for Larson tools and socket sets, as published on page 249 of the November 4, 1920 issue of Motor Age.

The company's address is listed as Olive Street in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and a New York City office is noted as well.

The upper left part of the ad illustrates a sliding Tee handle along with a socket, universal joint, drive plug and extension.

The middle illustration shows one of the company's socket sets, which included a selection of both hex and square sockets, along with a ratchet handle, universal joint, and extension.

The lower right illustration shows a valve lifter for Model T automobile service.


Continuing Operations

The Larson Tool & Stamping Company continues today as a fifth-generation family business, and further information on the company's operations can be found on their web site at www.larsontool.com [External Link].


Tool Identification

Larson tools were typically stamped with the company name and a logo with an "L" in a hexagon.


L-Hex Logo

[L-Hex Logo]
Fig. 250. L-Hex Logo.

Larson tools were frequently stamped with an "L" in a hexagon, referred to as the L-Hex logo in the text.

Fig. 250 shows the L-Hex logo as published in the 1920 ad noted above.


Selected Tools

We have some examples of the company's socket sets and will display them as time permits.


Larson Tool No. 9X 11/16-Drive Ratchet

[Larson No. 9X 11/16-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 251. Larson No. 9X 11/16-Drive Ratchet, ca. 1920-1922.

Fig. 251 shows a Larson No. 9X 11/16-drive ratchet, stamped "Larson T.&S. Co." and "Attleboro, Mass. U.S.A." on the handle, with the Larson L-Hex logo at the right. The ratchet is also marked with a "Pat. Pend." patent notice.

The overall length is 9.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with a light copper coating.

The pending status refers to patent 1,419,391, filed in 1920 by Nils G. Larson and issued in 1922. The patent describes a ratchet mechanism using a pawl carried in the rotating member, with teeth cut in the handle body.

This ratchet is designed to drive standard pressed-steel sockets with an approximate 11/16 opening in the drive gear. The gear is fitted with a detent ball to secure the socket, visible in the photograph on the upper face.


Lisle Corporation

The Lisle Corporation was founded in 1903 by C.A. Lisle in Clarinda, Iowa. The company initially made well-drilling equipment, but branched out into other manufactured items, and in the 1920s began producing automotive equipment and tools.

Lisle continues in operation today as a private family-run business and maintains a web page on the Company History [External Link]. Interested readers are encouraged to check there for further information.

Lisle manufactures an extensive line of automotive specialty tools, which are sold both under the Lisle name and as contract production for other companies.


Lisle Internal/External Reversible Snap-Ring Pliers

[Lisle (Craftsman) Reversible Snap-Ring Pliers]
Fig. 252. Lisle (Craftsman) Reversible Snap-Ring Pliers in Internal Position, with Inset for Back Side Detail.

Fig. 252 shows an pair of Lisle internal/external reversible snap-ring pliers, stamped "U.S. Pat. No. 3,681,840" on the top handle, with the "Craftsman" brand stamped on the back side of the lower handle (see inset). The pliers were identified as Lisle production by the patent, assigned to the Lisle Corporation.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is black oxide.

The patent notice refers to patent 3,681,840, issued to J.L Pool in 1972 with assignment to Lisle. The patent describes the design of reversible internal/external snap-ring pliers, with the mode of operation selected by means of a movable cross-bar. The photograph shows the pliers in the position for internal snap-rings.

[Lisle (Craftsman) Reversible Snap-Ring Pliers]
Fig. 253. Lisle (Craftsman) Reversible Snap-Ring Pliers in External Position, with Inset for Back Side and Marking Detail.

Fig. 253 shows the Lisle snap-ring pliers in the position for external snap-rings. In this configuration the cross-bar has been moved across the two handles, allowing the top handle to flex and back side the operation of the tips.


Los Angeles Tool Company of New York

The Los Angeles Tool Company of New York was an obscure company with an improbable name, operating in Jamestown, New York. The company is currently known only by the tool in Fig. 255 below.

[1923 Notice for Los Angeles Tool Company]
Fig. 254. 1923 Notice for Los Angeles Tool Company.

The scan in Fig. 254 shows a notice for the Los Angeles Tool Company, as published on page 1682 [External Link] of the June 7, 1923 issue of The Iron Age.

The text gives the company address as 269 Hopkins Street in Jamestown.

One additional reference to the company has been found: a small ad under "Machine Tools Wanted" published on page 822i [External Link] of the May 31, 1923 issue of American Machinist.


Los Angeles Tool 7/16-Hex Drive 15 Inch Speeder

[Los Angeles 7/16-Hex Drive Speeder]
Fig. 255. Los Angeles 7/16-Hex Drive 15 Inch Speeder, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. Mid 1920s.

Fig. 255 shows a Los Angeles Tool 7/16-hex drive 15 inch speeder with a 1/2 socket installed. The end piece is stamped with "Los Angeles Tool Co. of N.Y." and "Jamestown, N.Y.", as shown in the inset.

The overall length is 14.5 inches, and the finish is black paint.


Lowell Wrench Company

The Lowell Wrench Company was a maker of ratchet wrenches and ratchet drills operating from around 1869 onward. The company was initially located in Lowell, Massachusetts but soon moved to nearby Worcester, Massachusetts.

The company's early products were based on the 1864 D.M. Moore patent 45,334, which described a "triple-action" ratchet mechanism.

[1869 Notice for Lowell Wrench Company]
Fig. 256A. 1869 Notice for Lowell Wrench Company. [External Link]

Fig. 256A shows a notice for the Lowell Wrench Company, as published on page 15 of an 1869 report on the 11th exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association, which took place in Boston during September and October of 1869.

This is currently our earliest published notice for the company.

[1883 Ad for Lowell Wrench Company]
Fig. 256B. 1883 Ad for Lowell Wrench Company. [External Link]

Fig. 256B shows an ad for the Lowell Wrench Company, as published on page 650 of the January 15, 1883 edition of the Worcester Directory.

The text notes the company address as 19 Church Street in Worcester.

[1908 Notice for Lowell Multo Ratchet Wrench]
Fig. 256C. 1908 Notice for Lowell "Multo" Ratchet Wrench.

By 1908 the company was offering a "Multo" socket wrench set with 14 sockets and a reversible ratchet.

The composite scan in Fig. 256C shows a notice for the Lowell "Multo" ratchet wrench set, as published on page 58 [External Link] of the May 25, 1908 issue of Hardware. (The text has been re-flowed into a compact block.)


Patents

Lowell Wrench Company: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
45,334 D.M. Moore12/06/186412/06/1864 Ratchet Wrench
743,942 J.E. Sinclair05/02/190311/10/1903 Ratchet Wrench
1,177,764 J.H. Dodge03/17/191504/04/1916 Ratchet Wrench
1,798,194 J.H. Dodge07/27/192903/31/1931 Reversible Ratchet Wrench

Lowentraut, P. Manufacturing Company

The P. Lowentraut Manufacturing Company was a maker of tools and hardware operating in Newark, New Jersey. The company was founded in 1869 by Peter Lowentraut and initially was located on Fair Street in Newark.

By 1884 the company had moved to a large three-story factory at 36-54 Brenner Street.

[1912 Illustration of P. Lowentraut Manufacturing Company, Brenner Street]
Fig. 257A. 1912 Illustration of P. Lowentraut Factory. [External Link]

Fig. 257A shows an illustration of the company's factory, as published in 1912 in Newark, The City of Trade by the Newark Board of Trade.

By the early 1890s the company was offering of ice skates under the "U.S." brand. (At that time ice skates were generally designed to attach to regular street shoes.)

[1891 Ad for P. Lowentraut Manufacturing]
Fig. 257. 1891 Ad for P. Lowentraut "U.S" Ice Skates. [External Link]

Fig. 257 shows an advertisement for Lowentraut "U.S." ice skates, as published on page 79 of the November 12, 1891 issue of The Iron Age.

In 1899 the company incorporated and raised its capital to $200,000.

[1912 Ad for P. Lowentraut Manufacturing]
Fig. 258. 1912 Ad for P. Lowentraut "U.S" Tools. [External Link]

Fig. 258 shows an advertisement for Lowentraut "U.S." tools, as published on page 22 of the April 12, 1912 issue of The Hardware Reporter.

The text notes a variety of tools, including pliers, punches, chisels, saw sets, cycle wrenches, and hammers.

Also noted is the availability of the company's 1912 catalog.


Tool Identification

Lowentraut tools were marked in several different styles, some of which may not be immediately recognizable as Lowentraut production. The markings include "P.L. Mfg. Co." in a diamond logo and a more compact form with "P.L." in a diamond, referred to here as the the PL-Diamond logo.

In later years Lowentraut sold tools (and other items, including ice skates) under the "U.S." brand, typically marked inside a diamond logo. Although Lowentraut did advertise "U.S." brand ice skates under its own name, some "U.S." branded items may have been intended as contract production for other companies.


PL-Diamond Logo

[PL-Diamond Logo]
Fig. 259. PL-Diamond Logo.

Fig. 259 shows the PL-Diamond logo as stamped on a tool.


US-Diamond Logo

[US-Diamond Logo]
Fig. 260. US-Diamond Logo.

Fig. 260 shows the US-Diamond logo as stamped on the Lowentraut "U.S." 5 Inch Bicycle Wrench shown in a later figure.


Lowentraut 8 Inch Gas and Burner Pliers

[Lowentraut 8 Inch Gas and Burner Pliers]
Fig. 261. Lowentraut 8 Inch Gas and Burner Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 261 shows a pair of Lowentraut 8 inch gas and burner pliers, stamped "Forged" with the PL-Diamond logo, and with "Cast Steel" stamped on the lower jaw.

The overall length is 8.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Lowentraut 10 Inch Gas and Burner Pliers

[Lowentraut 10 Inch Gas and Burner Pliers]
Fig. 262. Lowentraut 10 Inch Gas and Burner Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 262 shows a pair of Lowentraut 10 inch gas and burner pliers, stamped "Forged" with the PL-Diamond logo, and with "Cast Steel" stamped on the lower jaw.

The overall length is 10.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Lowentraut "U.S." 6 Inch Gas and Burner Pliers

[Lowentraut U.S. 6 Inch Gas and Burner Pliers]
Fig. 263. Lowentraut "U.S." 6 Inch Gas and Burner Pliers, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 263 shows a pair of Lowentraut "U.S." 6 inch gas and burner pliers, stamped "Forged" with the "U.S" brand in a diamond. (The "U.S." mark is on the upper handle to the right of the pivot, though somewhat difficult to read.)

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


Lowentraut "U.S." 5 Inch Bicycle Wrench

[Lowentraut U.S. 5 Inch Bicycle Wrench]
Fig. 264. Lowentraut "U.S." 5 Inch Bicycle Wrench, with Insets for Back Side and Marking Detail.

Fig. 264 shows a Lowentraut "U.S." 5 inch bicycle wrench, stamped with "P.L. Mfg. Co." and "Newark, N.J." inside a diamond, with "Drop Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." around the outside edge of the diamond. The back side is stamped with "U.S" in a diamond on the fixed jaw (see lower inset).

The overall length is 5.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


Lueck, F.R. Manufacturing Company

The F.R. Lueck Manufacturing Company operated in Milwaukee during the 1920s as the maker of a patented "Copperhead" multi-socket rim wrench.

[1922 Notice for F.R. Lueck Rim Wrench]
Fig. 265. 1922 Notice for F.R. Lueck "Copperhead" Rim Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 265 shows a notice for a Lueck "Copperhead" rim wrench, as published on page 75 of the April 1, 1922 issue of the Automobile Trade Journal.

The Lueck rim wrench was based on patent 1,430,574, filed by F.R. Lueck in 1921 and issued on October 3 of 1922.

[1922 Ad for Copperhead Rim Wrench]
Fig. 266. 1922 Ad for Copperhead Rim Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 266 shows an ad for a Lueck "Copperhead" rim wrench, as published on page 192 of the April 6, 1922 issue of the Motor Age.


J.N. MacDonald & Company

The J.N. MacDonald Company operated in Hartford, Connecticut as a maker of chain-repair pliers and possibly other tools. Some of their pliers were sold using the name "Necessity", but other production may be found marked only with a patent date or number.


J.N. MacDonald "Necessity" Chain Repair Pliers

[1912 Catalog Listing for J.N. MacDonald Necessity Chain Repair Pliers]
Fig. 267. 1912 Catalog Listing for J.N. MacDonald "Necessity" Chain Repair Pliers.

Fig. 267 shows a catalog listing for "Necessity" tire chain repair pliers, as published on page 50 of the 1912 catalog "A" from the E.J. Willis Company of New York City.

The illustration notes the July 26, 1910 patent date.

A listing for the "Necessity" pliers was also found on page 515 of the 1924 catalog No. 20 from the Waterhouse & Lester Company, an industrial distributor.

[J.N. MacDonald Necessity Chain Repair Pliers]
Fig. 268. J.N. MacDonald "Necessity" Chain Repair Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1915-1920.

Fig. 268 shows a pair of J.N. MacDonald "Necessity" chain repair pliers, marked with "J.N.M. & Co." forged into the upper handle, with "Pat. July 26-10 Re-Aug-2-15" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into the lower jaw.

The pliers are also marked with "Necessity" forged into the underside of the handles.

The overall length is 9.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The first patent date corresponds to patent 965,722, filed by J.N. MacDonald in 1909 and issued in 1910.

The reissue patent date is incorrect and should be August 3, 1915, which corresponds to patent RE13,957.


MacDonald Patent Chain Repair Pliers

This next example uses a later patent by J.N. MacDonald.

[MacDonald Patent Chain Repair Pliers]
Fig. 269. MacDonald Patent Chain Repair Pliers, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 269 shows another pair of MacDonald chain repair pliers, marked only with the patent date "Pat. Oct. 22 12" on one jaw.

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

The patent date corresponds to patent 1,041,826, issued to J.N. MacDonald in 1912. The inventor was listed as residing in Hartford, Connecticut, and the patent was assigned to James M. MacDonald of nearby Wethersfield, suggesting the possibility of a family-owned tool business.


McPherson-Huff Tool Company

The McPherson-Huff Tool Company was founded in 1927 as a maker of automotive tools in Sabina, Ohio. The founders were Elmer T. McPherson and William L. Huff.

McPherson had earlier received patent #1,193,578 in 1916, which was assigned to the Irwin Auger Bit Company of Wilmington, Ohio.

[1927 Notice for McPherson-Huff Tool Company]
Fig. 270A. 1927 Notice for McPherson-Huff Tool Company. [External Link]

Fig. 270A shows a small notice of the founding of the McPherson-Huff Tool Company, as published on page 624 of the February 24, 1927 issue of The Iron Age.

The company was incorporated on May 17, 1928 with $30,000 in capital, according to a 1928 report from the State of Ohio.

Currently we don't have much information on the company's tools. No advertisements or new product announcements for McPherson-Huff have been found, and we haven't seen any examples of tools marked with the company's name. This leads us to suspect that the company worked exclusively as a contract manufacturer.

McPherson-Huff does appear in various product directory listings in trade publications, and based on these listings the company was primarily a maker of striking tools such as chisels, punches, and nail sets.

Connection with MAC Tools

Sabina, Ohio was just a small town in the 1930s, but in 1938 it became home to another tool company when the Mechanics' Tool & Forge Company (later known as MAC Tools) was founded. As might be expected, there were some connections between the two.

Ralph McPherson was one of the founders of Mechanics' Tool & Forge (and its first president), and he had previously worked at McPherson-Huff. The matching surnames suggest a family connection with the founder of McPherson-Huff.

Another connection would have been harder to predict. On January 4, 1940 a major fire destroyed the McPherson-Huff factory and caused an estimated $100,000 in damages, according to a notice on page 79 of the January 11, 1940 issue of The Iron Age. The fire temporarily knocked the company out of business while the factory was being rebuilt.

After the fire, Mechanics' Tool & Forge bought the damaged inventory from McPherson-Huff, and then cleaned and retempered the tools to sell. As McPherson-Huff was commonly called "MAC-Huff" for short, the sale of MAC-Huff tools provided the "MAC" name adopted by Mechanics' Tool & Forge.

This origin story of the MAC name was related by Otto Tucker, another founder of Mechanics' Tool & Forge, in a newspaper article on the occasion of his retirement at age 79, as published in the September 2, 1967 edition of the Wilmington News-Journal.

According to Tucker, another consequence of the fire was that about 20 salesman left McPherson-Huff en masse to work at Mechanics' Tool & Forge. This jump-started the direct sales model at the latter company, but left McPherson-Huff without a sales force after the factory rebuid.

After this initial "fire sale", it appears that McPherson-Huff continued to supply chisels, punches, and screwdrivers to Mechanics' Tool & Forge.

Production for Sears Roebuck

In 1944 McPherson-Huff landed a contract with Sears Roebuck to supply tools such as chisels and punches, and by 1966 was selling about 500,000 such tools annually through Sears. This information was found in the transcript of the product liability lawsuit mentioned below.

Maker "N-Square"?

As a supplier to Sears, McPherson-Huff would normally be expected to mark its production with a manufacturer's code, in order to allow Sears to sort and return any defective tools for credit. We've seen reports that McPherson-Huff marked its tools with an "N-Square" ("N" in a square) code, a code which is known to have been used for chisels, punches, and pliers.

This is plausible based on the fact that McPherson-Huff was a major supplier of chisels and punches, but at the present time (2024) we haven't seen any actual evidence to attribute the "N-Square" mark.

To identify the maker of a Craftsman tool, normally we like to see two tools with some kind of design or manufacturing quirk, with one tool marked with its maker's brand and the other marked with "Craftsman" and the code in question. However, McPherson-Huff may not have produced tools under its own name, so this standard of proof may be out of reach.

We think that the best way to settle the assertion about the use of the "N-Square" code is by reference to the trial transcript for the lawsuit noted in the next section. Since McPherson-Huff was accused of making a defective tool, the trial would have had to include testimony describing how to positively identify McPherson-Huff as the maker of the tool in question. This testimony should quickly settle the question about the use of "N-Square", and if the company actually used a different code, that would be equally valuable information to discover.

A Product Liability Lawsuit

In 1967 McPherson-Huff was named as a defendant (along with Sears Roebuck) in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a person blinded by a fragment from a punch made by the company. The case didn't go to trial until 1972, but at trial the plaintiff's lawyer, Philip H. Corboy, was extraordinarily well prepared. Corboy had commissioned an analysis of the tool by a metallurgist, which showed that the tool in question had been improperly hardened.

Other details that came out during the trial revealed that Sears had only verbally requested the McPherson-Huff meet Federal specifications for its tools, that Sears had tested only a tiny fraction of the tools being sold, and that approximately 1/2 of one percent of the tools were being returned to the McPherson-Huff as defective.

The jury decided in favor of the plaintiff and awarded more than $700,000 in damages, which was split among Sears Roebuck, McPherson-Huff, and an insurance company.

The case reference is PROCACCINI v. SEARS ROEBUCK & CO., No. 67 L 1629 (Cir. Ct. Cook County, Ill. 1967), and we hope to locate the transcript to search for additional details of McPherson-Huff's production for Sears. A summary of the trial is included in Corboy's book Final Arguments.

If any of our readers are lawyers and know how to access the case transcript, please let us know via email!

Acquisition by MAC Tools

With the product liability lawsuit pending, in 1968 McPherson-Huff was dissolved and was succeeded by M-H Incorporated, which was then acquired by MAC Tools.

Patents

McPherson-Huff: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
D103,245 E.T. McPherson10/19/193602/16/1937 Design for a Tool Handle

Trademarks

No trademarks for McPherson-Huff have been found.


Millers Falls Company

The Millers Falls Company operated in Millers Falls, Massachusetts as the maker of a wide variety of tools and hardware.


Millers Falls No. 199 Four-Way Offset Screwdriver

[Millers Falls No. 199 Four-Way Offset Screwdriver]
Fig. 271A. Millers Falls No. 199 Four-Way Offset Screwdriver, with Inset for Top View, ca. 1930s to 1940s.

Fig. 271A shows a Millers Falls No. 199 four-way offset screwdriver, stamped with "Millers Falls Co." and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 5.2 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


Millers Falls No. 803 3/32 Nailset Punch

[Millers Falls No. 803 3/32 Nailset Punch]
Fig. 271. Millers Falls No. 803 3/32 Nailset Punch, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1930s to 1940s.

Fig. 271 shows a Millers Falls No. 803 3/32 tapered punch for setting nails, stamped with "Millers Falls" and "Made in U.S.A." on the head, with the model number and "Alloy" plus the size (tip diameter) on an adjacent face.

The overall length is 4.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel with polished faces.


Millers Falls No. 1470 6 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers

[Millers Falls No. 1470 6 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers]
Fig. 272. Millers Falls No. 1470 6 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1920s to 1940s.

Fig. 272 shows a pair of Millers Falls No. 1470 6 inch combination pliers, stamped "Millers Falls" and "Made in U.S.A." on the handle.

The overall length is 6.5 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The inset shows an edge view of the pliers, illustrating the rectangular grid gripping pattern on the handles.

The handle gripping pattern is similar to, but subtly different from Crescent's "Checkerdot" pattern, which can be seen on the Crescent L26 Pliers.


Miller Tool & Manufacturing Company

The Miller Tool & Manufacturing Company was founded in Detroit by R.H. Miller in 1913. The company initially operated as a manufacturer of automobile parts.

[1916 Notice of Incorporation]
Fig. 273. 1916 Notice of Incorporation. [External Link]

Fig. 273 shows a notice for Miller Tool & Manufacturing, as published on page 902 of the April 20, 1916 issue of The Iron Trade Review.

The text notes that the company had been incorporated with $15,000 of capital, and the incorporators are listed as A.L. Miller, R.H. Miller, and C.L. Campbell.

According to a notice on page 1020 of the December 6, 1917 issue of Automotive Industries, by that time the company had recently moved to a larger building at 16th and Newark Streets, and new machinery was installed to make equipment for automobile and tractor manufacturers.

[1921 Advertisement for Miller Tool]
Fig. 274. 1921 Advertisement for Miller Tool. [External Link]

Fig. 274 shows an ad for Miller Tool socket wrenches, as published on page 1167 of the January, 1921 edition of the Automobile Trade Directory.

The text notes that by this time the company had become the official tool manufacturer for the Dodge Brothers and Studebaker.


Trademarks

[1922 Trademark Application for Miller Tool]
Fig. 275. 1922 Trademark Application for Miller Tool.

In 1921 the company filed a trademark with the text "Auto Service Tools" in a diamond logo, which included a very extensive list of automotive service tools for which the trademark was used.

The composite scan in Fig. 275 shows the application, as published on page 165 of the July 4, 1922 edition of the Official Gazette. (We had to splice the text from the next column to get the full list of applicable goods!)

The trademark was issued as #159,441 on September 26, 1922.

Miller Tool & Manufacturing: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
Auto Service Tools 159,441 03/01/192112/03/1921 09/26/1922 Auto Service Tools [Logo].
Extensive list of applicable tools.
Serial 156,231. Published July 4, 1922.

Miller Tool 7541 1/2x12 Tappet Wrench

[Miller Tool 7541 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 276. Miller Tool 7541 1/2x1/2 Tappet Wrench, with Insets for Back Side and Marking Detail, 1929.

Fig. 276 shows a Miller Tool 7541 1/2x1/2 tappet wrench, marked with the 7541 model number forged into the shank, with "Miller Tool" and "Detroit Mich" in a diamond logo plus "Chrome Vanadium" forged into the back side. The shank also has a forged-in code "CU" visible at the left.

The overall length is 9.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The center inset shows a close-up of the markings. The diamond logo (with different text) was registered as a trademark by Miller Tool.

This wrench can be recognized as Bonney production by the forged-in date code. The "U" year code on a 1920s style tappet wrench with forged-in markings indicates production in 1929.


Motor Specialties Company (Mosco)

The Motor Specialties Company of Waltham, Massachusetts was a maker of automotive products operating in the early 20th century.

The company sold products under the "Mosco" brand and is probably best known for a wheel puller for the Model T Ford, and for a patented nut holder tool.

[1919 Catalog Listing for Mosco Wheel Puller]
Fig. 277. 1919 Catalog Listing for Mosco Wheel Puller.

Fig. 277 shows a listing for the Mosco wheel puller, as found on page 113 of the 1919 Ford Owners' Supply Book (Eastern edition) catalog. The same catalog also offered the nut holder tool, but without mentioning the Mosco brand.

No relation is known between this company and the Snap-on distribution company with a similar name operating in Chicago during the 1920s.


Mosco 9/16 Nut Holder

[Mosco 9/16 Nut Holder]
Fig. 278. Mosco 9/16 Nut Holder, with Inset for Top View, ca. 1918-1925.

Fig. 278 shows a Mosco 9/16 nut holder tool, marked with the patent date "Pat. 2-19-18" on one face. The corresponding patent was found to be 1,257,003, which was issued to H.S. Hoyt in 1918 and assigned to the Motor Specialties Company.

The overall length is 1.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The patent document describes the intended application as a holder for nuts or bolts that would otherwise turn freely, requiring another person to assist. The 9/16 size would make this tool suitable for holding Ford Model T engine base bolts, certainly a common service job at the time of the patent filing.

A 1924 catalog from Western Auto Supply lists a nut-holder very similar to this example, and although the maker is not identified, it is presumed to be the Mosco tool.

Another more elaborate tool designed for basically the same purpose can be seen in the Blackhawk 6218 Speeder Wrench.


Mystery Tools

Identifying the maker of an old tool is the most basic first step to understanding its history, and we maintain a collection of tool catalogs and other resources to assist with this process. Yet despite our best efforts, some tools remain "mystery brands" of unknown origin.

But rather than let these mystery tools languish in a drawer somewhere, we've decided to display them here in a special section, with hopes that some reader may recognize the markings or style. If you do have information on any of these tools, please let us know via email.

The tools in this section will be indexed under "Mystery Tool", as though there were a Mystery Tool Company located somewhere.

Breaking News! We recently found a catalog listing linking the W. & M. Co. Mystery Ratchet to a socket set produced by Mossberg for Sears Roebuck.

Breaking News (2021)! We found a catalog listing showing that the Chrome Molybdenum Mystery Wrench was produced by Barcalo Manufacturing. The mystery wrench was added here in 2007, so we're glad to finally solve it!

Breaking News (2023)! We found a catalog listing identifying the SSR14 7/16 Square Ratcheting Wrench as a product of Detroit Tool and Forge. Detroit Tool and Forge was succeeded by the D.T.M. Corporation, which marked its tools with the DTM-Hex logo observed on the mystery tools.


Mystery Battery Terminal Pliers

[Mystery battery Terminal Pliers]
Fig. 279. Mystery Battery Termional Pliers, with Inset for Jaw Detail.

Fig. 279 shows a pair of unmarked battery terminal pliers, designed for lifting a battery terminal while pushing on the post.

The overall length is 11.7 inches, and the finish is polished steel.

The handle ends are curved back to allow the tool to be easily held by the fingers.


Mystery Screwdriver Socket Box Wrench

[Mystery Screwdriver Socket Wrench]
Fig. 280. Mystery Screwdriver Socket Wrench, with Inset for End View.

Fig. 280 shows an unusual screwdriver and socket wrench combination tool, stamped "216B" with a "Pat. in U.S.A. Oct. 7, 1919" patent date.

The overall length is 6.7 inches with the sockets fully extended, and the finish appears to be cadmium plating.

The tool consists of a shank with a central hexagonal grip and sockets on each end, sized 3/8 and 7/16. The sockets can be extended and locked in place by a pin through the shaft, allowing to tool to operate as a nut driver. When unlocked, the sockets will slide back on the shaft to reveal a screwdriver blade on each end, and the socket opening will act as a guide to hold the blade in the screw slot.

The patent date corresponds to patent 1,318,088, issued to C.H. Klein in 1919 with assignment to American Telephone & Telegraph.

One of our readers has pointed out that this was a familiar tool for telephone linemen, used for connecting the internal wiring for telephones. (Older readers may remember when telephones required wires in the basement.) The tool was likely made by Western Electric, the captive manufacturing division of AT&T.


Mystery 41-W-642-25 7/8x15/16 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrench

[Mystery 41-W-642-25 7/8x15/16 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 281. Mystery 41-W-642-25 7/8x15/16 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1941-1945.

Fig. 281 shows a Mystery 41-W-642-25 7/8x15/16 obstruction wrench, marked only with the 41-W series military model number.

The overall length is 9.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel or black oxide.

The 41-W marking is a federal stock number and should be sufficient for identifying the wrench, but we haven't found the right document yet.


"Childcraft" 41-W-1468-475 3/4x3/4 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrench

[Childcraft 41-W-1468-475 3/4x3/4 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 282. "Childcraft" 41-W-1468-475 3/4x3/4 Angle-Head Obstruction Wrench, with Insets for Back Side and Marking Detail, ca. Early to Mid 1940s.

Fig. 282 shows a "Childcraft" 41-W-1468-475 3/4x3/4 angle-head obstruction wrench, stamped with "Childcraft" on the shank, with "41-W-1468-475" on the back side.

The overall length is 11.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel or black oxide.

The opening sizes of the wrench are not marked, but measure close to 25/32.

A search for "Childcraft" didn't turn up any tool-related companies, suggesting that this could be a nom de guerre like Bonney's "Krieger" brand.

Although we're listing this in our "mystery" tools section, it isn't really a mystery — the "41-W" code is a federal stock number identifying the specific application of the wrench. These numbers are listed in documents such as the Ordnance Supply Catalog ORD 5 SNL J-4 for the WWII era, and someone with access to such documents will likely find this wrench listed as a maintenance tool for a military vehicle.

We're getting closer! A recent (2023) search turned up the following listing.

[1940 Notice for 41-W-1468-475 Wrench]
Fig. 283. 1940 Notice for 41-W-1468-475 3/4x3/4 Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 283 shows a listing identifying the use for the 41-W-1468-475 tool, as published in the 1940 War Department Technical Manual.

The caption at the top identifies the application as maintenance for 4-ton 6x6 Diamond T trucks, and the 41-W part number identifies it as a 3/4x3/4 angle-head wrench for internal and external manifold nuts.

The manufacturer's number is given as TEC 6-117, which hopefully will lead to the maker.


Mystery 1/2-Drive Brace Bit Adapter

[Mystery 1/2-Drive Brace Bit Adapter]
Fig. 284. Mystery 1/2-Drive Brace Bit Adapter, ca. 1910s to 1920s.

Fig. 284 shows an unmarked 1/2-drive brace bit adapter, allowing a carpenter's brace to operate with standard 1/2-drive sockets.

The overall height is 4.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The adapter uses an inserted pin as a stop for the drive stud, a somewhat uncommon construction technique known to have been used by Walden for its early socket sets.


Mystery "MM-Oval" 7/16x9/16x1-1/4 Triple-Open Wrench

[Mystery MM-Oval 7/16x9/16x1-1/4 Triple-Open Wrench]
Fig. 285. Mystery "MM-Oval" 7/16x9/16x1-1/4 Triple-Open Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 285 shows a 7/16x9/16x1-1/4 triple-open wrench, marked only with an intricate logo resembling nested "MM" letters in an oval, referred to as the MM-Oval logo in the text.

The overall length is 5.8 inches, and the finish is polished steel.

This wrench may be designed for use with cylinders of compressed gas, but the maker is not yet known.


Nagel-Chase Manufacturing Company

The Nagel-Chase Manufacturing Company was founded by Theodore Nagel and Guy M. Chase and operated in Chicago, Illinois. The company was formed in 1908 as the successor to the Nagel Manufacturing Company.

The 1909 Certified List of Domestic and Foreign Corporations listed the company with $15,000 capital, with an address at 251 South Jefferson Street in Chicago.

By 1909 the company was a maker of telephony supplies such as ground clamps and test connectors, and by the 1910s was a maker of gasoline and kerosene lamps.

During the 1940s Nagel-Chase was a maker of ratcheting box-end wrenches and is known as a supplier for the Sears Dunlap brand.


Patents

Nagel-Chase Manufacturing: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
2,421,038 E. Schultz06/09/194405/27/1947 Ratcheting Box-End Wrench
Dunlap 3/8x7/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench

[Nagel-Chase] Dunlap 3/8x7/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench

[Dunlap 3/8x7/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench]
Fig. 286. Dunlap 3/8x7/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1944-1947.

Fig. 286 shows a Dunlap 3/8x7/16 ratcheting box wrench, stamped "Made U.S.A." with a "Pat. - App." patent notice.

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

The pending status refers to patent #2,421,038, filed by E. Schultz in 1944 and issued in 1947, with assignment to the Nagel-Chase Manufacturing Company.


[Nagel-Chase] Dunlap 1/2x9/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench

[Dunlap 1/2x9/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench]
Fig. 287. Dunlap 1/2x9/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1947+.

Fig. 287 shows a Dunlap 1/2x9/16 ratcheting box wrench, stamped "Made U.S.A." with a "Pat. 2421038" patent notice.

The overall length is 6.7 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The patent notice is for patent #2,421,038, filed by E. Schultz in 1944 and issued in 1947, with assignment to the Nagel-Chase Manufacturing Company.


New Britain Manufacturing Company

New Britain Manufacturing was a small company known only as the maker of an early "Pick-Up" ratchet wrench, but has long been confused with the well-known New Britain Machine Company due to their similar names. Both companies operated in New Britain, Connecticut, as did many other tool and hardware companies. Kenneth Cope's book American Wrench Makers 1830-1930, 2nd Edition (AWM2e) lumps the Pick-Up wrench in with other products by New Britain Machine, and in earlier editions of this site we showed the Pick-Up wrench as an early tool from New Britain Machine.

Recently though we noticed the small difference in the company names, and a check of early advertisements and trade notices showed that the Pick-Up tools were consistently listed as a product of New Britain Manufacturing.

Various reports from the State of Connecticut show that New Britain Manufacturing was in the die-sinking business in 1908, but was listed as a maker of Pick-Up ratchet wrenches in later years. This suggests a small company that found some success with a new (and patented) product, which then became their main line of business. We believe this evidence supports listing New Britain Manufacturing as a separate company, unrelated to the better known New Britain Machine Company.

[1908 Listing for New Britain Manufacturing Co.]
Fig. 288. 1908 Listing for New Britain Manufacturing Co. [External Link]

Fig. 288 shows a directory listing for the company, as published on page 48 of the 1908 report from the Connecticut Office of the Factory Inspector. The entry notes that New Britain Manufacturing was in the die-sinking and repairing business at that time. (New Britain Machine is noted as maker of steam engines.)

[1916 Listing for New Britain Manufacturing Co.]
Fig. 289. 1916 Listing for New Britain Manufacturing Co. [External Link]

Fig. 289 shows a later listing, as published on page 44 of the 1916 Connecticut Department of Factory Inspection report. This entry shows New Britain Manufacturing (on the bottom line) as the maker of Pick-up ratchet wrenches.

The line above lists the New Britain Machine Company as making woodworking and special machinery.


The Pick-Up Ratchet Wrench

The Pick-Up wrench was based on patent 847,601, filed by G.B. Pickop in 1907 and issued later that year. (The name "Pick-Up" can be seen as a word play on the inventor's name.) Based on the notices and advertisements found so far, the Pick-Up wrench was available by 1908 and remained on the market until around 1918 or so.

[1908 Notice for Pick-Up Ratchet Wrench]
Fig. 290. 1908 Notice for Pick-Up Ratchet Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 290 shows a notice for the Pick-Up ratchet wrench, as published on page 1352 of the April 23, 1908 issue of The Iron Age.

The text describes the "Pick-Up" ratchet wrench in some detail, and the maker is noted as the New Britain Manufacturing Company.

The Pick-Up wrench is noted as being available in seven sizes from 4 to 24 inches, with the 7 inch version (with a 7/8 opening) being marketed as a spark-plug wrench.

The tool was also available as a set in a wooden box, including the ratchet wrench, a universal joint, extension, screwdriver blades, and 31 sockets.

A similar notice was published on page 90 [External Link] of the August, 1908 issue of the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal. This later notice provides the company address as 214 South Main Street in New Britain, Connecticut.


Catalog Listing for "Pick-Up" Wrench Sets

New Britain Manufacturing was able to get their products into distribution fairly quickly, as the following catalog listing shows.

[1910 Listing for Pick-Up Wrench Sets]
Fig. 291. 1910 Catalog Listing for Pick-Up Wrench Sets.

The scan in Fig. 291 shows a listing for two "Pick-Up" wrench sets, as published on page 171 of the 1910 Chanslor & Lyon catalog.

The text notes that the small set included 15 sockets and came in a leather case, with a $7.50 price.

The larger set contained 32 sockets and was furnished in a wooden box, with a $10.00 price.

In later years the Pick-Up ratchet and socket sets were made by Crescent Manufacturing (no, not Crescent Tool!), a tool and hardware company based in New York City. An example of a Crescent Pick-Up Ratchet Set can be seen in that article.


"Pick-Up" Spark Plug Wrench

[Pick-Up Spark Plug Wrench]
Fig. 292. Pick-Up Spark Plug Wrench, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. 1907-1918.

Fig. 292 shows a "Pick-Up" spark plug wrench with an unusual spline driver design, marked with "Pick-Up" and "Patd" on the handle. In operation, the handle can be raised in its loose connection to allow the spline to disengage from the socket, and then turned to engage the next slot.

The overall length is 9.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The patent notice refers to patent 847,601, filed by G.B. Pickop in 1907 and issued later that year.

The patent description calls this a ratchet wrench, but technically it is a clutch mechanism, as the socket can be turned in either direction once the slot and spline are engaged. The "Pick-Up" trade name is a clever play on the inventor's name and the method of operation, as the handle is picked up to disengage the drive.


Oswego Tool Company

The Oswego Tool Company was founded in 1887 by John J. Tonkin and Albert N. Radcliffe in Oswego, New York. The company operated as a maker of tools and machinery.

[1906 Notice for John J. Tonkin]
Fig. 298. 1906 Notice for John J. Tonkin. [External Link]

Fig. 298 shows a notice with background information on John J. Tonkin and the founding of Oswego Tool, as published on page 20 of the February 10, 1906 edition of The Iron and Machinery World.

The text notes that Tonkin and A.N. Radcliffe formed the company in 1887, with Tonkin as its first president.

In 1893 the company was incorporated with $25,000 of capital. A notice of the incorporation can be found on page 15 [External Link] of the May 18, 1893 issue of The Iron Trade Review, which lists the incorporators as John J. Tonkin, Albert N. Radcliffe, and Chauncey C. Place.

Chauncey C. Place had previously formed the Place Manufacturing Company to produce Giles patent pipe wrenches.

[1913 Notice for Oswego Tool Stillson Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 299. 1913 Notice for Oswego Tool Stillson Pipe Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 299 shows a notice for an Oswego Tool Stillson-pattern pipe wrench, as published on page 1045 of the June 19, 1913 issue of American Machinist.


Tool Identification


OT-Circle Logo

[OT-Circle Logo]
Fig. 300. OT-Circle Logo.

Fig. 300 shows the OT-Circle logo stamped on a tool.


Oswego Tool 10 Inch Stillson-Pattern Pipe Wrench

[Oswego Tool 10 Inch Stillson-Pattern Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 301. Oswego Tool 10 Inch Stillson-Pattern Pipe Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 301 shows an Oswego Tool 10 inch Stillson-pattern pipe wrench with a wooden handle. The wrench is marked with "Oswego Tool Co." and the OT-Circle logo stamped on the shank, with "Stillson Wrench" above plus "Made in U.S.A." and "Oswego, N.Y." below.

The overall length is 9.4 inches closed and 10.6 inches fully extended, providing a maximum opening of 1.2 inches. The finish is plain steel with black paint on the handle.


Page-Storms Drop Forge Company

The Page-Storms Drop Forge Company was founded in 1902 by Edward C. Page and Frank F. Storms, with operations in Chicopee, Massachusetts. The company operated primarily as a merchant drop forger, but also produced a line of open-end and pipe wrenches.

By 1918 Page-Storms had become one of the "Big Nine" of the forging industry: nine companies who together accounted for nearly all of the drop-forged wrench production. These companies jointly signed a Conservation Agreement to reduce manpower and materials, as requested by the War Industries Board.

In 1919 Page-Storms was acquired by the Moore Drop Forging Company of nearby Springfield, Massachusetts.

[1919 Advertisement for Page-Storms Drop Forge]
Fig. 302. 1919 Advertisement for Page-Storms Drop Forge. [External Link]

Fig. 302 shows an advertisement for Page-Storms Drop Forge, as published on page 73 of the October, 1919 issue of The American Drop Forger.


Tool Identification


PS-Oval Logo

[PS-Oval Logo]
Fig. 303. PS-Oval Logo.

Fig. 303 shows the PS-Oval logo stamped on the face of a wrench made for Crompton & Knowles.


Page-Storms 3/4x13/16 Open-End Wrench for Crompton & Knowles

[Page-Storms 3/4x13/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 304. Page-Storms 3/4x13/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Back Side Detail.

Fig. 304 shows a Page-Storms 3/4x13/16 open-end wrench made for Crompton & Knowles, stamped "Crompton & Knowles Loom Works" on the shank, with the PS-Oval logo on the opposite face.

The overall length is 7.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Page-Storms 7/16x1/2 Toolpost Wrench for Crompton & Knowles

[Page-Storms 7/16x1/2 Toolpost Wrench]
Fig. 305. Page-Storms 7/16x1/2 Toolpost Wrench, with Inset for Back Side.

Fig. 305 shows a Page-Storms 7/16x1/2 toolpost wrench made for Crompton & Knowles, stamped "Crompton & Knowles Loom Works" on the shank, with the PS-Oval logo on the opposite face.

The overall length is 5.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Palmer Brothers Company

The Palmer Brothers Company operated in Meadville, Pennsylvania and is currently known only for their "Welloct" brand of pliers of patented construction.

Currently we don't have a lot of information about this company. It was apparently founded as the Palmer Brothers Tool & Forging Company and was in operation before 1940, based on online references.

The company's main product were pliers based on patent 2,152,563, issued to Robert W. Palmer and John P. Palmer in 1939.

By the late 1940s the company had changed its name to the Palmer Welloct Tools Corporation, based on the apparent success of the pliers.

[1948 Notice for Palmer Welloct]
Fig. 306. 1948 Notice for Palmer Welloct.

Fig. 306 shows a notice for the Palmer Welloct Tool Corporation, as published on page 232 of the February 12, 1948 issue of Hardware Age.

The text notes that the company was incorporated in April of 1947 after being originally formed as a partnership. The principals were three brothers, Robert W. Palmer, John P. Palmer, and Edward R. Palmer.

[1953 Ad for Palmer Welloct Pliers]
Fig. 306B. 1953 Advertisement for Palmer Welloct Pliers.

The scan in Fig. 306B shows an advertisement for Palmer Welloct pliers, as published on page 273 of the September, 1953 issue of Popular Science.


Trademarks

Palmer Brothers: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
Welloct Logo 559,630 06/01/194504/30/1951 06/03/1952 Welloct [Logo].
Filed by Palmer Welloct Tool Corporation.
Serial 613,343. Published February 5, 1952.
Cancelled in 1958.

Palmer Brothers "Welloct" No. 207 Slip-Joint Pliers

[Palmer Brothers Welloct No. 207 Slip-Joint Pliers]
Fig. 306C. Palmer Brothers "Welloct" No. 207 Slip-Joint Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1945+.

Fig. 306C shows a pair of "Welloct" No. 207 slip-joint pliers, stamped "U.S. Pat. 2152563" near the pivot joint, with "Palmer Brothers" and "Meadville, PA." on the back side.

The overall length is 7.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The top inset shows a side view of the pliers, with the dimple-like pattern on the handles somewhat similar to the well-known "Vacuum Grip" pattern.

The patent notice refers to patent 2,152,563, issued to Robert W. Palmer and John P. Palmer in 1939. The patent describes pliers made with a forged tab on one handle operating in a slot in the other handle, effectively providing a slip-joint function without using a special bolt.

The "Welloct" marking indicates production after 1945.


Parmelee Wrench Company

The Parmelee Wrench Company was founded in Chicago as the maker of a patented "girdle" pipe wrench. The company was in business by early 1903, based on a notice on page 211 of the April, 1903 issue of Power.

The company's products were based on patent 648,706, filed in 1899 by Homer Parmelee and issued in 1900. The patent shows the "jaws" of the wrench composed of segmented circular arcs designed to fit a pipe with a specific diameter.

A later patent 871,436 provided a refinement to the original design and was issued to Roy Parmelee in November of 1907. This patent date was frequently marked on the company's products.

[1904 Ad for Parmelee Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 308A. 1904 Ad for Parmelee Pipe Wrench.

The scan in Fig. 308A shows an ad for the Parmelee pipe wrench, as published on page 126 of the June 1, 1904 issue of The Engineer.

The text shows the company's address as 1058 Monroe Street in Chicago.


Increased Capital

By 1911 business was apparently doing well, as the company raised additional capital to expand its operations.

[1911 Notice for Parmelee Wrench Company]
Fig. 308B. 1911 Notice for Parmelee Wrench Company. [External Link]

Fig. 308B shows a notice of a capital raise for the Parmelee Wrench Company, as published on page 689 of the March 16, 1911 issue of The Iron Age.

The text notes that the company had increased its capital from $2,500 to $10,000, and that the installation of new machinery would allow the company to triple its output.

[1912 Ad for Parmelee Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 308C. 1912 Ad for Parmelee Pipe Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 308C shows a later ad for the Parmelee pipe wrench, as published on page 215 of the May, 1912 issue of Mill Supplies.

The text notes that the wrench has no teeth and will not mar the finish of pipe, and is especially designed for handling brass and nickel plated pipe.

The company address is given as 2517 Monroe Street.

[1913 Notice for Parmelee Wrench Company]
Fig. 308D. 1913 Notice for Parmelee Wrench Company. [External Link]

Fig. 308D shows a notice announcing the availability of Parmelee wrenches in larger sizes, as published on page 196 of the August 16, 1913 issue of Domestic Engineering.

The text notes that wrenches for pipe of four, six, and eight inch diameters were now available, and that the wrenches would allow the use of threaded rather than flanged pipe.


Acquisition by Walworth Manufacturing

By 1914 the Parmelee pipe wrench had been acquired by (or licensed to) the Walworth Manufacturing Company, a major manufacturer of plumbing supplies and tools. Walworth was the original maker of the Stillson pipe wrench.

Walworth offered the Parmelee design as the Walworth Parmelee wrench, with the wrench showing both names, and typically marked with the 1907 patent.

Later Operations

After the 1914 acquisition by Walworth, there are still some references to the Parmelee Wrench Company in the trade press, and also references to a Parmelee Tool Company at the same address in Chicago.

By 1915 the Parmelee Tool Company was offering a Stillson pipe vise. A notice and illustration of the pipe vise can be found on page 650 of the November 15, 1915 issue of the Plumbers' Trade Journal.

Interestingly though, the Parmelee Wrench Company remains in business today and operates in Harrison, New Jersey as the seller of ... Parmelee pipe wrenches! Apparently the company re-acquired the rights to its original product, and its current pipe wrenches look very similar to the 100 year old design.

The interested reader can find additional information about the company on its About Us [External Link] web page.

The company address is given as 125 Jersey Street in Harrison, New Jersey, which is the same address as that for the C.S. Osborne Company. We've seen references to the Parmelee company as an affiliate of C.S. Osborne, although there is no mention of a connection on either company's website.

Parmelee No. 1 Pipe Wrench

[Parmelee No. 1 Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 308E. Parmelee No. 1 Pipe Wrench, with Insets for Side View, Construction, and Marking Detail, ca. 1907-1913.

Fig. 308E shows an early Parmelee No. 1 pipe wrench, marked with "Parmelee" and "PAT 11-19-1907" cast into the wrench head.

The patent date refers to patent 871,436, filed by Roy Parmelee in 1905 and issued in 1907.

The overall length is 12.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The top inset shows the interior of the folding jaw assembly. Each jaw assembly was designed to fit a specific pipe diameter, in this case 3/4 inch pipe.

The jaw assembly is secured to the wrench head by a pin with a spring clip, seen at the right in the top inset.

This wrench model was originally supplied with three jaws, but we acquired the tool with just the one jaw assembly shown in the photograph.

Our wrench is an early example made before the acquisition by Walworth. Wrenches made after the acquistion were dual-marked as "Walworth-Parmelee", and an example can be seen on the present-day company's website.


Peerless Wrench Company

The Peerless Wrench Company was founded in 1919 and operated in Providence, Rhode Island. Based on a published report by the Rhode Island Secretary of State, the founders were Anthony M. Cunha, Florence E. Allen, and William D. Whipple, and the company's certificate of incorporation was issued on July 21, 1919. The stated business activities were manufacturing, buying, and selling of wrenches, tools, and other metal products.

Aside from the incorporation notice, we haven't been able to find many published references to Peerless Wrench, suggesting that the company probably had a relatively short life.

The company's most notable product was a distinctive rotating-head ratchet, for which Anthony M. Cunha had received patent 1,307,485 in 1919. In addition to the rotating head, the ratchet also incorporated an advanced progressive-engagement pawl mechanism. This innovative design was an milestone in the development of ratchets, and influenced later (and better known) models such as the OTC H-160 Flex Ratchet and S-K Roto-Ratchet.

A catalog listing for the Peerless ratchet appears on page 362 of the Waterhouse & Lester catalog No. 20 for 1924. It was available in two versions, a fixed head for $2.75, and a universal (rotating) head for $3.75.

In the late 1920s the Apco-Mossberg company offered its own version of the Peerless ratchet as a Ford connecting rod wrench. The Apco-Mossberg version of the ratchet has "APCO" instead of "Peerless" forged into the handle.


Peerless Wrench 1/2-Hex Drive Rotating-Head Ratchet

[Peerless 1/2-Hex Drive Cunha Patent Ratchet]
Fig. 309. "Peerless" 1/2-Hex Drive Cunha Patent Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Back Side Detail, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 309 shows a 1/2-hex drive Peerless Wrench rotating-head ratchet of the Cunha patented design, marked with the patent notice "Pat'd June 24, 1919 March 1, 1921" forged into the shank.

The rotating head is fitted with a hex drive stud that can be pushed through to back side the operation.

The overall length is 8.3 inches, and the finish is polished steel.

The first patent date refers to patent 1,307,485, filed by A.M. Cunha in 1918 and issued in 1919.

The second date refers to patent 1,370,194, filed by A.M. Cunha in 1919 and issued in 1921. This later patent described a removable accessory handle that could be added to the base ratchet to form a Tee handle.

This ratchet was acquired as part of a "Service" socket set in a metal case, but this tool was the only marked piece in the set. The generic markings of the set suggest that it was made as contract production for another company, possibly a large retail operation.

The socket set has since been identified as a product of the Service Engineering Corporation and more information can be found in that article.


APCO Cunha Patent 1/2-Hex Drive Rotating-Head Ratchet

[APCO 1/2-Hex Drive Cunha Patent Ratchet]
Fig. 310. APCO Cunha Patent 1/2-Hex Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Back Side Detail, ca. Late 1920s.

Fig. 310 shows the APCO version of the Cunha patent rotating-head ratchet, marked with "APCO" forged into the shank, with "Pat'd June 24, 1919 March 1, 1921" forged into the back side.

The overall length is 8.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with extensive pitting due to rust.

The first patent date refers to patent 1,307,485, filed by A.M. Cunha in 1918 and issued in 1919.

The second date refers to patent 1,370,194, filed by A.M. Cunha in 1919 and issued in 1921. This later patent described a removable accessory handle that could be added to the base ratchet to form a Tee handle.


Place Manufacturing Company

The Place Manufacturing Company was founded in 1889 by Chauncey C. Place and operated in Oswego, New York as a maker of lathe chucks, pipe wrenches, and other tools.

One of the tools produced by Place Manufacturing was a pipe wrench based on patent 391,957, issued in 1888 to J.A. Giles.

In 1893 Chauncey C. Place was one of the incorporators of the Oswego Tool Company, which afterwards produced the Giles patent wrench.


Place Mfg. 10 Inch Giles Patent Pipe Wrench

[Place Mfg. 10 Inch Giles Patent Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 311. Place Mfg. 10 Inch Giles Patent Pipe Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Back Side Detail, ca. 1889 to 1890s.

Fig. 311 shows a Place Mfg. 10 inch pipe wrench, marked with "The Place M'f'g Co." and "Oswego, N.Y." forged into the shank, with "Giles Patent" and "Oct. 30 '88." forged into the back side.

The overall length is 9.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The patent date refers to patent 391,957, filed by J.A. Giles in 1888 and issued later that year, with partial assignment to C.C. Place.


Port Clinton Manufacturing Company

The Port Clinton Manufacturing Company operated in Port Clinton, Ohio and is currently known only for the "Hydra-Hex" patented ratcheting line wrench.

The Hydra-Hex wrench was based on patent 3,015,245, filed in 1960 by C.L. Dracka and issued in 1962, with assignment to the Port Clinton Manufacturing Company.


Patents

Port Clinton Mfg.: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
3,012,456 C.L. Dracka10/22/195912/12/1961 Torque Limiting Wrench
Assigned to Port Clinton Manufacturing Company.
3,015,245 C.L. Dracka01/27/196001/02/1962 Ratcheting Line Wrench
Assigned to Port Clinton Manufacturing Company.

Hydra-Hex 7/8 Ratcheting Line Wrench

[Hydra-Hex 7/8 Ratcheting Line Wrench]
Fig. 312. Hydra-Hex 7/8 Ratcheting Line Wrench, with Insets for Operational and Marking Detail, ca. 1960s.

Fig. 312 shows an unusual Hydra-Hex 7/8 ratcheting line wrench, stamped with "Hydra-Hex" and "Pat. 3015245" on the head.

The tool is also stamped with a PCMCo-Circle logo at the left end of the handle, representing the initials of the Port Clinton Manufacturing Company.


Quality Tools Corporation

The Quality Tools Corporation operated in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania as a maker of hand tools and pneumatic equipment, which were sold under the "Old Forge" and possibly other brands. The company was founded in 1923.

[1923 Notice for Quality Tools Corporation]
Fig. 313. 1923 Notice for Quality Tools Corporation. [External Link]

Fig. 313 shows a notice of the formation of the Quality Tools Corporation, as published on page 1362 of the November 15, 1923 issue of The Iron Age.

[1924 Notice for Quality Tools Corporation]
Fig. 314. 1924 Notice for Quality Tools Corporation. [External Link]

Fig. 314 shows a notice with some additional information for the company, as published on page 400 of the October, 1924 issue of Forging-Stamping-Heat Treating.

The text notes that the company was incorporated recently with $25,000 capital and was now manufacturing pneumatic chisels and hand tools. The company president is listed as J.A. McLaughry.


Trademarks

[1924 Notice of Trademark for Quality Tools Corporation]
Fig. 315. 1924 Notice of Trademark for Quality Tools Corporation. [External Link]

Fig. 315 shows a notice of the grant of trademark #190,593 to the Quality Tools Corporation, as published on page 263 of the October 14, 1924 issue of the Official Gazette of the USPTO. The trademark shows the text "Old Forge" and claims a first use on July 4, 1924.

Quality Tools Corporation: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
OLD FORGE 190,593 07/04/192402/21/1924 10/14/1924 For pliers, wrenches, chisels, punches, hammers, pneumatic chisels
Serial 192,642. Published August 5, 1924.
Renewed October 14, 1944 and December 22, 1964.

Connection with Thorsen Tools

In the early 1930s Quality Tools established a business relationship with Thorsen Tools, the distributor arm of Thorsen Manufacturing. Quality Tools was apparently acting as an eastern sales agent for Thorsen Tools, and Thorsen in turn offered Old Forge chisels and wrenches in its catalogs.

[1933 Catalog Listing for Old Forge Open-End Wrenches]
Fig. 316. 1933 Catalog Listing for Old Forge Open-End Wrenches.

Fig. 316 shows a catalog listing for Old Forge open-end wrenches, as published on page 30 of the Thorsen Tools catalog No. 3334 for 1933.

The arrangement between Quality Tools and Thorsen appears to have been in effect only briefly, as by 1935 Thorsen Tools had switched to Herbrand for wrenches and other tools, and Quality Tools was no longer listed as a sales office for Thorsen.


Old Forge T14 7/16 Long Tappet Wrench

[Old Forge T14 7/16 Long Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 317. Old Forge T14 7/16 Long Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 317 shows an Old Forge T14 7/16 long tappet wrench, stamped "Old Forge" and "New Wilmington, PA." with the model number in the center.

The overall length is 12.5 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


Quincy, Manchester, Sargent Company

The Quincy, Manchester, Sargent Company (Q.M.S.) was a maker of railroad and automotive accessories and tools, and is most notable for its Auto-Clé socket sets. The Auto-Clé sets were first offered in late 1905, making them the first interchangeable socket sets for automotive use available in America.

Our article on the Frank Mossberg Company has extensive coverage of the Auto-Clé sets, but because of the significance of this product, we thought it would be worthwhile to explore the origin of the company that introduced these sets to the U.S. market.

Railway Appliances Corporation

The Auto-Clé sets were first marketed in America by the predecessor to Q.M.S., the Railway Appliances Corporation. According to a notice for a related company, Railway Appliances had been formed in 1900 by George H. Sargent and Percival Manchester, and operated in Chicago, Illinois.

[1908 Notice Relating to Railway Appliances Corp.]
Fig. 318. 1908 Notice Relating to Railway Appliances Corporation. [External Link]

Fig. 318 shows a notice providing incidental background information, as published on page 260 of the September, 1908 edition of Railway Master Mechanic. The text specifically notes that Railway Appliances had been formed in 1900.

A directory entry on page 214 [External Link] of the 1905 edition of the Illinois Certified List of Domestic and Foreign Corporations listed Railway Appliances at 184 Van Buren Street in Chicago, with Charles F. Quincy as President and Percival Manchester as Secretary.

The Auto-Clé socket tools were invented in France by Camille Contal and were covered by patents 751,055 and RE12,379, issued in 1904 and 1905 respectively. The socket sets are believed to have been produced in France beginning in 1904, and likely became popular with early automobile enthusiasts. Although we haven't found any specific information, it's possible that someone associated with Railway Appliances could have discovered the Auto-Clé socket set on a trip to Paris.

Railway Appliances began marketing the Auto-Clé sets in late 1905, and these early examples were likely marked with the Railway Appliances name. Although early advertisements list Railway Appliances as the manufacturer of the sets, we believe it's likely that the Frank Mossberg Company acted as contract manufacturers for the sets from the beginning.

[1906 Notice for Railway Appliances Auto-Clé Set]
Fig. 319. 1906 Notice for Railway Appliances Auto-Clé Set. [External Link]

Fig. 319 shows a composite scan of a notice published on pages 142-143 of the January 17, 1906 issue of The Horseless Age. The text states that the Auto-Clé set was "introduced last year", providing documentation for a 1905 introduction date.

The description notes that the sets included a ratchet, universal, hexagon and square sockets, and a spark plug socket. The sets were available in two sizes, a small version with 10 sockets and a larger version with 30 sockets.

[1906 Ad for Railway Appliances Auto-Clé Set]
Fig. 320. 1906 Ad for Railway Appliances Auto-Clé Set.

The scan in Fig. 320 shows an early ad for the small Auto-Clé set, as published on page 344 [External Link] of the April 1, 1906 issue of the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.

The earliest known catalog listing for the Auto-Clé sets is on page 52 of the 1906 Ballou-Wright Automobile Supplies catalog No. 2, which offered the small set for $12.00 and the large set for $18.00 list price. The catalog illustration is the same as the ad at the left.

As a side note, the Ballou-Wright catalog No. 2 is available as a reprint from the Oregon Historical Society.


The Formation of the Quincy, Manchester, Sargent Company

In February of 1906 the Q.M.S. company was incorporated as the successor to Railway Appliances and other related businesses. The incorporation date was found on page 2481 [External Link] of the 1908 edition of Moody's Manual of Railroads and Corporations, along with other corporate information. In particular, the officers were W.D. Sargent as Chairman, C.F. Quincy as President, and Percival Manchester as Vice-President and Treasurer. (George H. Sargent, the founder of Railway Appliances, was listed as a member of the Board of Directors.) The address of the main office was given as Plainfield, New Jersey.

[1906 Notice for Quincy, Manchester, Sargent Company]
Fig. 321. 1906 Notice for Quincy, Manchester, Sargent Company.

Fig. 321 shows a notice announcing the formation of the Quincy, Manchester, Sargent Company, as published on page 160 [External Link] of the April, 1906 issue of American Engineer and Railroad Journal.

The text notes Q.M.S. as the successor to the Railroad Appliances Corporation and related businesses.

[1908 Advertisement for Q.M.S. Company]
Fig. 322. 1908 Advertisement for Quincy, Manchester, Sargent, Company.

Fig. 322 shows an ad for the Auto-Clé sets offered by the Q.M.S. company, as published on page 1119 [External Link] of the December 31, 1908 issue of Motor Age.

The illustration shows three sets: the large Auto-Clé at the upper left, the small Auto-Clé at the upper right, and the "Titus-Clé" at the bottom. The latter set had a folding handle instead of a ratchet, allowing it to fit in a very compact case.

Note that the top cover of the large set shows the Frank Mossberg Company as distributors.

In late 1908 the Auto-Clé line was acquired by the Frank Mossberg Company and became one of their best-selling products. More information on these interesting and significant products can be found in our article on Mossberg Auto-Clé Socket Sets.

After acquiring the Auto-Clé line, Mossberg continued to supply Auto-Clé sets to Q.M.S. and acted as a distributor for the sets.

Then in late 1909 Q.M.S. formed a Motor Parts Company division to handle all of their automotive specialties, and Auto-Clé sets sold by Q.M.S. after that time were marked with the Motor Parts name.

[Detail for Cover of Auto-Clé No.1 Socket Set]
Fig. 323. Detail for Cover of Auto-Clé No.1 Socket Set, ca. 1909-1912.

Fig. 323 shows the Motor Parts Company logo on the top cover of a socket set, with "Auto-Clé" inside an oval design resembling an old-fashioned keyhole. Within the oval are the markings "Motor Parts Co." and "Plainfield, N.J.", with "Reg. U.S. Pat. Off." below the oval.

The markings are printed on (or possibly burned into) the wood cover, rather than being attached as a decal, as was commonly done for later Mossberg socket sets.

The full socket set can be seen as the Auto-Clé No. 1 Set in our article on the Frank Mossberg Company.


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