Alloy Artifacts  

Vaughan & Bushnell Mfg. Company

Table of Contents


Company History

Vaughan & Bushnell was founded in 1869 by Alexander Vaughan in Chicago, Illinois and initially operated as a maker of post augers. Vaughan had invented an improved auger and received patent #91,387 in 1869. The success of the auger business led to the production of other types of hand tools.

After the Chicago fire of 1871 destroyed the business, Sidney Bushnell provided additional capital to rebuild the business, and in 1882 the company was incorporated as the Vaughan & Bushnell Manufacturing Company. By the 1880s the company was making a wide variety of tools, including hammers, chisels, punches, wrecking bars, and pliers.

[1906 Advertisement for V & B Hammers]
Fig. 1. 1906 Advertisement for V & B Hammers. [External Link]

Fig. 1 shows an ad for Vaughan & Bushnell "Eagle" brand hammers, as published on page 1184 of the June, 1906 issue of Hardware Dealers' Magazine.

Early Use of Vanadium Steel

By 1917 (or possibly earlier) the company was advertising the use of vanadium steel for some of its tools, in particular for hammers. This was a significant early use of alloy steel.

[1917 Advertisement for V & B Tools]
Fig. 2. 1917 Advertisement for V & B Tools. [External Link]

Fig. 2 shows an ad for V & B "Vanadium" nail hammers, part of a full-page ad published on page 1 of the May 19, 1917 issue of American Artisan and Hardware Record.

The text notes the use of vanadium steel in the company's hammers, and also illustrates the company's nail sets and rivet sets.

[1920 Advertisement for Vaughan & Bushnell]
Fig. 3. 1920 Advertisement for Vaughan & Bushnell Vanadium Tools. [External Link]

Fig. 3 shows an ad for Vaughan "Supersteel" tools, as published on page 88 of the November 1, 1920 issue of Southern Hardware and Implement Journal.

The illustration shows a vanadium steel hammer and a bit brace with vanadium steel jaws.

The company continued to advertise vanadium steel tools through at least 1930, a period during which the tool-buying public was increasingly aware of the merits of alloy steel.

Vaughan Family Buyout

By 1922 the Vaughan family had purchased a controlling interest in the company.

An article summarizing a meeting of the company's Board of Directors can be found on page 97 [External Link] of the December, 1922 issue of Hardware World, which states that Sanford S. Vaughan had acquired a controlling interest in the company.

The article also notes that Alexander S. Vaughan, the founder's grandson, had been promoted to the position of secretary and treasurer.

Continuing Operations

The company continues in business today as Vaughan Manufacturing, and interested readers can find more information at the Vaughan [External Link] web site, which includes a page on the History of Vaughan & Bushnell [External Link].


Vaughan & Bushnell: Issued Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
91,387 A. Vaughan 06/15/1869 Post Auger
D29,767 A. Vaughan09/08/189812/06/1898Wrench Handle
913,995 S.S. Vaughan03/03/190803/02/1909Pipe Wrench
    06/16/1914 Date from illustration.


In 1920 the company filed for a trademark on "V & B" in a logo, as seen in the figure below.

[1920 Trademark Filing for Vaughan & Bushnell]
Fig. 5. 1920 Trademark Filing for Vaughan & Bushnell.

Fig. 5 shows the trademark filing for "V & B" in a logo, as published on page 516 of the October 19, 1920 issue of the Official Gazette of the USPTO.

The first use date was noted as November 20, 1913.

The description of goods in the filing provides an extensive list of the company's products at the time, which included braces, hammers, reamers, chisels, punches, hatchets, saws, planes, pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers, and many more.

Vaughan & Bushnell: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
V & B 139,658 11/20/1913 06/25/1920 02/08/1921 Used for wide variety of tools.
Published October 19, 1920

References and Resources

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

Catalog Coverage

Vaughan & Bushnell: Catalog Resources
Publication Year Format Notes
No. 21 1921? Full No copyright, undated. 37 pages.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
Notes use of "Uncle Sam Supersteel" vanadium alloy steel.
No. 30 1930? Full No copyright, undated. 54 pages.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.

Industrial Distributors

Vaughan & Bushnell products were widely available from industrial distributors. We'll add references as time permits.

Selected Tools

Vaughan & Bushnell 8 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers

[Vaughan & Bushnell 8 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers]
Fig. 6. Vaughan & Bushnell 8 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Detail.

Fig. 6 shows a pair of Vaughan & Bushnell 8 inch Button's Pattern Pliers, stamped with "Vau???Bushn??" faintly visible on one handle (see middle right inset).

The overall length is 8.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

Button's Pattern pliers were first produced by J.M King & Company in the late 1860s and became one of the most popular styles of wire-cutting pliers. The Vaughan & Bushnell Button's pliers shown here are very similar to the J.M. King models.

Vaughan & Bushnell Cotter Pin Puller

[Vaughan & Bushnell Cotter Pin Puller]
Fig. 7. Vaughan & Bushnell Cotter Pin Puller, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 7 shows a Vaughan & Bushnell cotter pin puller, stamped "Vaughan & Bushnell Mfg. Co." on the side.

The overall length is 6.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

Alligator Wrenches

[1918 Catalog Listing for Vaughan & Bushnell Alligator Wrenches]
Fig. 8. 1918 Catalog Listing for Vaughan & Bushnell Alligator Wrenches.

Alligator wrenches were an important early product for V & B.

The scan in Fig. 8, from page 237 of the 1918 Ducommun catalog "E", gives illustrations for six models of alligator wrenches, Nos. 0, 1, 2, 3, 12, 13, and 14. The table at the bottom of the listing gives specifications and prices for the wrenches.

The description notes that the wrenches are drop-forged from "extra warranted steel" and then oil tempered.

Vaughan & Bushnell No. 101 Double-Ended Alligator Wrench

[Vaughan & Bushnell No. 101 Double-Ended Alligator Wrench]
Fig. 9. Vaughan & Bushnell No. 101 Double-Ended Alligator Wrench, with Inset for Back Side Detail.

Fig. 9 shows a Vaughan & Bushnell No. 101 double-ended alligator wrench, stamped with "V. & B." on a panel in the center of the checkered field, with the "101" model on the back panel.

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

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