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Walworth Manufacturing Company

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The Walworth Manufacturing Company was a maker of plumbing pipes and supplies in Boston and is best known as the original maker of the Stillson pipe wrench.

Company History

The Walworth Manufacturing Company was founded by James J. Walworth as a maker of plumbing pipes and equipment in Boston, Massachusetts. The company began in 1852 as J.J. Walworth & Company and later incorporated as the Walworth Manufacturing Company in 1872. The founder served served as company president until 1890.

[1872 Ad for Walworth Manufacturing]
Fig. 1. 1872 Ad for Walworth Manufacturing. [External Link]

Fig. 1 shows an ad for Walworth Manufacturing, as published on page xvii of the May, 1872 edition of The Bureau.

The text notes the company's products as steam, gas, and water pipes and related equipment.

The Stillson Pipe Wrench

Walworth Manufacturing is most famous as the original maker of the Stillson pipe wrench, named after its inventor Daniel Stillson, who was an employee of the company at the time. The original Stillson design was covered by patent 95,744, filed by Daniel Stillson in 1869 and issued later that year.

The Stillson pipe wrench became one of the most successful tools of all time, and royalties from the patent made a small fortune for the inventor. We could make the argument that the Stillson patent was the most important tool patent of the 19th century, based not only on the merits of the tool itself (which are considerable), but also on the inspiration and encouragement that Daniel Stillson's financial success provided for future inventors.

The decades after the Stillson patent saw a veritable flood of patents for pipe wrenches, but the Stillson design remained the "king" of pipe wrenches for more than 50 years.

The 1895 Strelinger catalog even provided a full page of illustrations of various pipe wrench designs, with a wry comment that the world (and the inventors) would have been better off if some of them hadn't been invented!

[1895 Illustration of Pipe Wrench Designs]
Fig. 2. 1895 Illustration of Pipe Wrench Designs.

The scan in Fig. 2 shows the illustration of pipe wrenches, as published on page 182 [External Link] of the 1895 Strelinger catalog.

The deluge of pipe wrench patents continued unabated in the years following the Strelinger catalog, and if Strelinger had wished to update their chart of wrenches in 1920, it might have required three pages.

As a side note, we have examples of some of the wrenches in the illustration, such as the (32) Always Ready, (23) Brock, (17) Giles, (29) Wakefield, and of course (2) Stillson.

[1908 Ad for Walworth Stillson Wrenches]
Fig. 3A. 1908 Ad for Walworth Stillson Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 3A shows an ad for Walworth Stillson wrenches, as published on page 3 [External Link] of the August, 1908 edition of Machinery.

Note that the text implores the reader to "Ask for the GENUINE Stillson", as by this time the patent had expired and numerous other manufacturers were offering "Stillson Pattern" pipe wrenches.

Readers interested in learning just how many other Stillson-pattern wrenches were offered will find our collection indexed under "Stillson-Pattern Wrench".

The Walworth Parmelee Wrench

On March 28, 1914 Walworth acquired the rights to the Parmelee pipe wrench, a unique design that gripped a pipe on all sides with a segmented collar. (The date is from the application for trademark #135,847.)

The Parmelee pipe wrench had been developed and manufactured by the Parmelee Wrench Company of Chicago and was 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 pipes within a limited range of diameters.

A later patent 871,436 provided a refinement to the original design and was issued to Roy Parmelee in November of 1907. More information on the early development of the tool can be found in our article on the Parmelee Wrench Company.

Walworth manufactured and sold the Parmelee pipe wrench from 1914 onward, and the wrenches were typically marked with both the Walworth and Parmelee names.

[1915 Ad for Walworth Parmelee Wrench]
Fig. 3B. 1915 Ad for Walworth Parmelee Wrench.

The scan in Fig. 3B shows a full-page ad for the Walworth Parmelee wrench (and the Walco adjustable hex wrench), as published on page 379 [External Link] of the September 15, 1915 edition of the Plumbers' Trade Journal.

Advertisements and references to the Walworth Parmelee wrench can be found in the trade press through the 1950s.

In 1960 the "PARMELEE" trademark was transferred to the Parmelee Wrench Company, which currently operates in West Harrison, New Jersey.


Walworth Manufacturing Company: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
95,744 D. Stillson09/11/186910/12/1869 Walworth 10 Inch Stillson Pipe Wrench


Walworth Manufacturing: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
Stillson 50,842   10/31/1905 04/03/1906 The word "Stillson". Notes "used 10 years".
Used for wrenches.
Serial 14,144. Published February 6, 1906.
[W-Sword logo] 52,118   09/01/1905 05/01/1906 Heraldic sword with letter "W".
Used for wrenches.
Serial 12,147. Published March 6, 1906.
[Stillson-Diamond logo] 53,579   03/13/1906 06/05/1906 "Stillson" in a diamond.
Used for wrenches.
Serial 17,791. Published April 10, 1906.
PARMELEE 135,847 03/28/1914 03/17/1920 10/10/1920 Text "PARMELEE" in a diamond.
For wrenches.
Serial 129,868. Published June 15, 1920.
Renewed 08/02/1960.
Transferred to Parmelee Wrench Coompany of Mineola, NY in 1960.
SIGMA 207,067 06/10/1925 07/31/1925 12/15/1925 Steel castings
Serial 218,225. Published September 29, 1925.
WALSEAL 318,527 05/01/1934 05/10/1934 10/30/1934 Metal pipe fittings
Second renewal 10/30/1974

Tool Identification

W-Sword Logo

[W-Sword Logo]
Fig. 4. W-Sword Logo from Trademark #52,118.

Fig. 4 shows the W-Sword logo as presented for trademark #52,118.

References and Resources

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

Catalog Coverage

An 1870 Walworth Catalog has been digitized by Google Books.

Walworth manufacturing: Catalog Resources
N/A Walworth Mfg. Co. 1878 No copyright, dated May 1, 1878. 172 pages.
Available for Download [External Link] from International Tool Catalog Library.
Lists Stillson pipe wrenches in sizes 6, 8, 10, 14, 18, 24, 36, and 48 inches.

Industrial Distributors

Walworth tools were widely available from industrial distributors. We'll add references as time permits.

Selected Tools

Walworth 10 Inch Stillson Pipe Wrench

[1878 Catalog Listing for Walworth Stillson Pipe Wrenches]
Fig. 5. 1878 Catalog Listing for Walworth Stillson Pipe Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 5 shows a catalog listing for Walworth "Stillson's Patent" pipe wrenches, as published on page 36 of the 1878 Walworth catalog.

The table below the illustration lists the wrenches in sizes 6, 8, 10, 14, 18, 24, 36, and 48 inches.

[Walworth 10 Inch Stillson Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 6. Walworth 10 Inch Stillson Pipe Wrench, with Insets for Edge View and Back Side Detail, ca. 1906+.

Fig. 6 shows a Walworth 10 inch Stillson pipe wrench, marked with "Stillson" and "Registered Trade Mark" in a diamond logo forged into the shank, with "Walworth Mfg. Co." and "Boston, U.S.A." forged into the back side.

The overall length is 9.4 inches closed and 10.8 inches fully extended. The finish is plain steel.

The forged-in marking for the Stillson diamond trademark indicates production in 1906 or later.

Although not marked with a patent, this wrench is described by patent 95,744, issued to Daniel Stillson in 1869.

Walworth 10 Inch "Genuine" Stillson Pipe Wrench

[Walworth 10 Inch Genuine Stillson Pipe Wrench]
Fig. 7. Walworth 10 Inch "Genuine" Stillson Pipe Wrench, with Insets for Edge View and Back Side Detail.

Fig. 7 shows a Walworth 10 inch "Genuine" Stillson pipe wrench, marked with "Walworth" and "Made in U.S.A." forged into a panel on the shank, with "Genuine Stillson" forged into the back panel.

The jaw is also marked with "Stillson" diamond trademark.

The overall length is 9.5 inches closed and 10.8 inches fully extended.

The finish is plain steel with red paint on the handle.

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