Alloy Artifacts  

Wakefield Wrench Company

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Wakefield Wrench Company was an early maker of adjustable wrenches operating in Worcester, Massachusetts. The company began operations in 1889 and took its name from the principal, John E. Wakefield, an inventor of some note.


Company History

[Biographical Sketch of John E. Wakefield]
Fig. 0A. Biographical Sketch of John E. Wakefield.

Fig. 0A shows a biographical "sketch" of the company's founder John E. Wakefield, as published in the 1917 Men of Worcester in Caricature, with drawings by L.C. Phifer.

The text notes that Wakefield had been born in 1848 and founded Wakefield Wrenches in 1889. It also mentions that Wakefield had invented the folding chair during his prior employment with chair manufacturer E.W. Vail.

One of the company's earliest products was a quick-adjusting pipe wrench based on patent 454,893, filed by J.E. Wakefield in 1890 and issued in 1891. One novel feature of the wrench was that the jaws had replaceable inserts, one serrated for working on pipes or unfinished articles, and the other smooth to avoid damaging a finished surface.

[1891 Notice for Wakefield Quick-Adjusting Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 0B. 1891 Notice for Wakefield Quick-Adjusting Pipe Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 0B shows a notice for the Wakefield quick-adjusting pipe wrench, as published on page 912 of the November 19, 1891 issue of The Iron Age.

This is currently the only public reference we've found for this early Wakefield tool, suggesting that it was not very successful commercially.

[1894 Advertisement for Wakefield Cycle Wrenches]
Fig. 0C. 1894 Advertisement for Wakefield Cycle Wrenches.

Other early products included bicycle wrenches, a popular item during the 1890s.

The scan in Fig. 0C shows an early advertisement for Wakefield bicycle wrenches, as published on page 76 of the December 27, 1894 issue of The Iron Age.

[1904 Advertisement for Wakefield Nut and Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 1B. 1904 Advertisement for Wakefield Nut and Pipe Wrench. [External Link]

The advertisement in Fig. 1B was published in the December 22, 1904 issue of Iron Age and shows a Wakefield nut and pipe wrench.


Succession by Clarence E. Wakefield

By the late 1910s the company was being run by Clarence E. Wakefield, the son of the founder.

[1919 Advertisement for Wakefield Wrench]
Fig. 2. 1919 Advertisement for Wakefield Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 2 shows an ad for Wakefield wrenches, as published on page 57 of the August, 1919 edition of Hardwaree and House Furnishing Goods.


The Wizard Wrench

[1919 Ad for Wakefield Wizard Wrench]
Fig. 3. 1919 Ad for Wakefield Wizard Wrench. [External Link]

By 1919 Wakefield was offering adjustable open-end "Wizard" wrenches.

Fig. 3 shows an ad for a "Wizard" adjustable open-end wrench, as published on page 90 of the December 25, 1919 issue of Automotive Industries.

On December 3, 1919 Clarence E. Wakefield filed a trademark application for "WIZARD", with the first use date claimed as May 1 of 1919. The trademark was granted as #132,574 on June 22 of 1920.

[1920 Notice for Wakefield Wizard Wrench]
Fig. 4. 1920 Notice for Wakefield Wizard Wrench. [External Link]

Fig. 4 shows a notice for Wakefield "Wizard" wrenches, as published on page 50 of the March, 1920 edition of the Motor Record.


Socket Sets

By 1925 Wakefield was calling itself the Wakefield "All-Steel" Wrench Company, and had started offering hex-drive socket sets.

[1925 Ad for Wakefield All-Steel Wrenches]
Fig. 5. 1925 Ad for Wakefield All-Steel Wrenches. [External Link]

Fig. 5 shows an ad for Wakefield "All-Steel" wrenches, as published on page 60 of the November, 1925 edition of American Exporter.

The illustration shows a hex-drive socket set with an Ell handle and six sockets, as well as a No. 100 adjustable wrench.

As a side note, the text states that the company began manufacturing wrenches in 1889.

By the early 1930s Wakefield was offering socket sets in a metal box with a spring retainer, based on a listing for a "Master Socket Set No. 2" on page 467 of the 1931 Mossman-Yarnelle distributor catalog.

The company name is not mentioned, but the illustration shows "Wakefield" and "Worcester, Mass." on the side.

The text of the listing has a "patent applied for" notation, possibly for the metal container. The pending notation was found to refer to patent 1,760,799, issued in 1930.


Patents

Wakefield Wrench Company: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
454,893 J.E. Wakefield11/26/189006/30/1891 Quick Adjusting Pipe Wrench
Wakefield Wrench No. 3 Pipe Wrench
529,982 J.E. Wakefield04/21/189211/27/1894 Pipe Clamp
545,323 J.E. Wakefield04/21/189211/27/1894 Pipe Wrench
657,326 J.E. Wakefield08/03/189709/04/1900 Adjustable Wrench
Wakefield No. 8 Bicycle Wrench
886,448 J.E. Wakefield04/09/190305/08/1908 Nut and Pipe Wrench
Wakefield Nut & Pipe Wrench
963,895 H.L. Houghton05/15/190707/12/1910 Ratchet Wrench
Wakefield No. 24 Ratchet
1,435,548 J.F. Oliver et al05/09/191911/14/1922 Adjustable Wrench
Wakefield No. 19 Wrench
1,662,409 C.E. Wakefield04/01/192703/13/1928 Socket Wrench Set
1,680,578 C.E. Wakefield et al04/01/192708/14/1928 Socket Wrench Set
1,760,799 C.E. Wakefield et al04/01/192705/27/1930 Socket Wrench Set
1,838,254 J.P. Fleming03/28/192812/29/1931 Socket Wrench Set

Trademarks

Wakefield Wrench Company: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
WIZARD 132,574 05/01/191912/03/191906/22/1920 Wrenches
Filed by Clarence E. Wakefield.
Serial 125,553. Published 03/30/1919.

References and Resources

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

Currently we do not have any catalogs for Wakefield Wrench.

Industrial Distributors

Wakefield tools were available from some industrial distributors.


Selected Tools

We are fortunate to have a rare example of the early Wakefield quick-adjusting pipe wrench, as well as a modest selection of the company's later products.


Wakefield No. 3 Quick-Adjusting Pipe Wrench

[Wakefield No. 3 Quick-Adjusting Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 6. Wakefield No. 3 Quick-Adjusting Pipe Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1890s to Early 1900s.

Fig. 6 shows a rare Wakefield No. 3 quick-adjusting pipe wrench, stamped with "The Wakefield Wrench" and "Worcester, Mass." on the upper jaw, and with the "No. 3" model number on the lower handle.

The reverse jaw is stamped with "Pat. June 30, 91" and "Other Pat's Pending" patent notices, as shown in the lower inset.

The overall length is 16.0 inches fully extended, and the maximum opening is 2.3 inches. The finish is plain steel.

The patent date refers to patent 454,893, filed by J.E. Wakefield in 1890 and issued in 1891.


Wakefield 5 Inch Bicycle Wrench

[Wakefield 5 Inch Bicycle Wrench]
Fig. 7. Wakefield 5 Inch Bicycle Wrench.

Fig. 7 shows a Wakefield 5 inch bicycle wrench, stamped "Wakefield Wrench" and "Made in Worcester, Mass. U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 5.4 inches. The finish is plain steel with pitting due to rust, but the original finish may have been nickel plating.


Wakefield No. 8 8 Inch Bicycle Wrench

[Wakefield No. 8 8 Inch Bicycle Wrench]
Fig. 8. Wakefield No. 8 8 Inch Bicycle Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1900.

Fig. 8 shows a very early Wakefield No. 8 bicycle wrench, marked "Wakefield Wrench" and "Made in Worcester, Mass. U.S.A.", with "Pat. Sept. 4, 1900" on the reverse (see inset). The overall length (fully extended) is 8.0 inches.

The date marked on the tool refers to patent 657,326, which was issued to J.E. Wakefield. The patent describes the construction of the wrench, and the most notable feature is the handle tube drawn from a single sheet of steel.

Wakefield 10 Inch "Nut & Pipe" Wrench

[Wakefield 10 Inch Nut & Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 9. Wakefield 10 Inch "Nut & Pipe" Wrench, ca. 1908 to 1910s.

Fig. 9 shows a Wakefield 10 inch "Nut & Pipe" adjustable wrench, marked "Wakefield Wrench" and "Worcester, Mass. U.S.A." with a "Pat. May 5, 1908" patent notice.

The overall length is 10.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The patent date on the tool refers to patent 886,448, filed by J.E. Wakefield in 1903 and issued on May 5, 1908. This wrench originally would have had an insertable pipe jaw, but the extra jaw had been lost by the time we acquired the tool.

Wakefield No. 24 1/2-Hex Drive Ratchet

During the 1920s Wakefield began producing hex-drive socket sets for the automotive market. This next figure shows a ratchet that probably was a component of a socket set.

[Wakefield No. 24 1/2-Hex Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 10. Wakefield No. 24 1/2-Hex Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 10 shows a Wakefield No. 24 1/2-hex drive ratchet handle, marked "Made in Worcester, Mass. U.S.A." with "Pat. Jul 12 1910" and "Pats. Pending" on the reverse. The overall length is 7.0 inches.

A patent search found this tool described by patent 963,895, issued to H.L. Houghton on the cited date. The patent corresponding to the pending status has not yet been found.


Wakefield No. 19 9 Inch Monkey Wrench

[Wakefield No. 19 9 Inch Monkey Wrench]
Fig. 11. Wakefield No. 19 9 Inch Monkey Wrench, ca. 1922-1930.

Fig. 11 shows a somewhat uncommon Wakefield No. 19 monkey or auto wrench, marked "Made in Worcester, Mass. U.S.A." and "Pat'd. Nov. 14 1922". The overall length is 9.1 inches.

The cited patent date refers to patent 1,435,548, issued to J.F. Oliver and J.P. Fleming, and assigned to Clarence E. Wakefield.


Wakefield No. 45 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench

[Wakefield No. 45 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 12. Wakefield No. 45 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 12 shows a Wakefield No. 45 1/2x9/16 open-end wrench of stamped steel construction, marked with "Wakefield" and "Made in Worcester, Mass. U.S.A." stamped on the shank.

The overall length is 4.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Wakefield No. 55 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench

[Wakefield No. 55 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 13. Wakefield No. 55 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 13 shows a Wakefield No. 55 1/2x9/16 open-end wrench of stamped steel construction, marked with "Wakefield" and "Made in Worcester, Mass. U.S.A." stamped on the shank.

The overall length is 5.8 inches.


Wakefield No. 70 3/4x25/32 Open-End Wrench

[Wakefield No. 70 3/4x25/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 14. Wakefield No. 70 3/4x25/32 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 14 shows a Wakefield No. 70 3/4x25/32 open-end wrench, marked with "Wakefield" and "Made in Worcester, Mass. U.S.A." stamped on the shank.

The overall length is 7.8 inches.


Wakefield "Wizard" No. 34 Nut-and-Tap Open-End Wrench

Wakefield sometimes used the "Wizard" brand for its products, as the next figure illustrates.

[Wakefield Wizard No. 34 1/2x9/16 Nut-and-Tap Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 15. Wakefield "Wizard" No. 34 1/2x9/16 Nut-and-Tap Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 15 shows a Wakefield "Wizard" No. 34 open-end wrench in the nut-and-tap style, stamped "Made in Worcester, Mass, U.S.A." on the shank.

The overall length is 4.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The square opening in the center allowed the wrench to be used as a (threading) tap handle, and this style was commonly called a "Nut and Tap" wrench. The center hole was also typically used with a bolt for holding sets of wrenches.

An example of Nut-and-Tap wrenches from another maker can be seen as the Indestro Nut-and-Tap Wrench Set.

Wakefield's use of the "Wizard" brand should not be confused with later (and better known) use by the Western Auto Supply Company.


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