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Herbrand, The Vanguard of Van-Chrome

[Logo from an Early Herbrand Wrench]
Logo from an Early Herbrand Wrench.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Company History

The Herbrand Company was founded in 1881 in Fremont, Ohio by Charles Thompson, a native of Fremont who had previously worked in the hardware business. The company's early products included drop forgings for vehicle springs and suspension systems, and the company name comes from Jacob Herbrand, an inventor with at least one patent assigned to the Herbrand Company. Further information on Charles Thompson can be found in the book A History of Northwest Ohio.

Charles Thompson was later joined in the business by his son Creighton Fuller (CF) Thompson. By the early 1900s Creighton Thompson had become a vice-president of the company, and he became the president after his father's death in 1922.

Ken Cope's book AWM2e reports Herbrand as a maker of shaving razors, but the patent records do not show anything in this area until around 1905. By 1900 Herbrand was making bicycle wrenches and other tools, and the company also produced custom drop-forgings.

As the automobile gained popularity in the early 20th century, Herbrand expanded production of drop-forged tools for automobile tool kits. Tools produced at this time would likely have been marked with the Herbrand H-Diamond logo.

In 1919 Herbrand began using "Van-Chrome" as a trademark for their alloy steel tools. The value of alloy steels for toolmaking was just being recognized at the time, and Herbrand's trademark is the earliest known brand referring to a steel alloy. (Many others would come in later decades.) The earliest Herbrand alloy steel tools were likely its H-1 to H-4 tappet wrench series.

During the 1920s and early 1930s Herbrand developed their line of tools and was a supplier to high-volume retailers such as Western Auto Supply and Montgomery Ward. Western Auto catalogs from the early 1930s list Herbrand tools and mention their brand names "Van-Chrome" and "Multihex".

By the mid 1930s Herbrand had broadened their tool line to include a full range of automotive service tools, including sockets and drive tools, a wide variety of wrenches, pliers, gear pullers, and a large number of specialty tools. This period seems to mark a turn away from the high-volume contract manufacturing of its earlier history, and a focus on the higher end professional market.

Herbrand continued as a full-service independent tool company through the 1940s and 1950s. In the mid to late 1950s Herbrand established a economy line of tools called "Vi-Chrome".

By the 1960s the increasing competition in the tool industry had made it difficult to remain independent, and in 1961 Herbrand was acquired by the Kelsey-Hayes Corporation, an industrial manufacturer. Kelsey-Hayes had previously acquired Utica Tools in 1956, and Herbrand became part of their Utica Tools Division. The parent company built a huge new factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina for the combined Utica-Herbrand manufacturing operations, and by 1962 Utica and Herbrand had relocated to Spartanburg. A further acquisition in 1964 added Bonney Forge and Tool to the Utica Tools Division.

In 1967 the Utica Tools Division was acquired from Kelsey-Hayes by the Triangle Corporation. Initially all three tool brands remained in production under Triangle, and tools made during this era were marked with a small triangle symbol. Triangle was eventually acquired by Cooper Industries, and at some point the Herbrand line was discontinued.


Patents

Table 1A. Herbrand Company: Patents Issued and Licensed
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedDescriptionNotes and Examples
244,599 J. Herbrand01/21/188107/19/1881Running Gear for Vehicles  
356,309 J.J. Fetzer11/03/188601/18/1887Running Gear for Vehicles  
376,795 S. Burdsall and C. Thompson01/31/188701/24/1888Running Gear for Vehicles  
459,360 J.J. Fetzer01/26/189109/08/1891Fifth Wheel  
492,719 J.J. Fetzer09/08/189202/28/1893Fifth Wheel Coupling for Vehicles  
649,291 J.J. Fetzer07/20/189905/08/1900Body Hanger for Vehicles  
808,603 J.J. Fetzer05/10/190512/26/1905Adjustable Wrench  
819,640 J.J. Fetzer08/12/190505/01/1906Safety Razor  
840,449 J.J. Fetzer07/22/190501/01/1907Safety Razor  
1,709,913 R.A. Kaplan07/15/192704/23/1929Gear Puller Licensed Patent. Herbrand 832 Gear Puller
2,182,922 E.A. Heschel03/21/193812/12/1939Method of Forging Sockets  
D158,073 E.A. Heschel01/25/194904/11/1950Ratcheting T-Handle Wrench Herbrand J-9 T-Handle Ratchet
D163,282 E.A. Heschel01/09/195005/15/1951Motor Stethoscope ["Multiscope"]  

Trademarks

In 1909 the Herbrand Company filed a trademark application for an early form of the Herbrand script logo using a solid (filled-in) underline stroke. No first use date is noted on the document, and the applicable products are given as "Razors". The trademark was issued as #75,371 on September 28, 1909.

In 1917 the Herbrand Company filed a trademark application for the H-Diamond logo, a design with in "H" inside a diamond shape. The applicable products were listed as wrenches, screwdrivers, and hammers, and the first use date was given as July 1, 1908. The trademark was issued as #130,511 on April 27, 1920.

In 1922 Herbrand filed an application for another variant of the Herbrand script logo, with the illustration showing an open underline stroke very similar to the marking used on tools. The first use date was given as November 1, 1921, and the applicable products were listed as wrenches (all kinds), pliers, hammers, screwdrivers, and chisels. The trademark was issued as #168,970 on May 29, 1923.

In 1929 the Herbrand Company filed an application for the "Van Chrome" trademark, with the products described as "wrenches of all kinds" and with the first use date listed as 1919. The trademark was issued as #266,707 on January 28, 1930. This trademark was renewed by the Bingham-Herbrand Corporation in 1950.

In 1948 the Bingham-Herbrand Corporation filed a trademark application for "Herbrand" in block letters. The application provided an extensive list of covered products and listed the first use date as November 1, 1921. The trademark was issued as #523,089 on March 28, 1950.

The Herbrand trademarks are summarized in Table 1B below.

Table 1B. Herbrand Company: Trademarks Issued
Text Mark First Use Date Filed Date Issued Registration Notes
Herbrand [Script Logo]   1909 09/28/1909 75,371 Products: Razors
H [Diamond Logo] 07/01/1908 1917 04/27/1920 130,511 Products: Wrenches, Screwdrivers, Hammers
Van Chrome 1919 1929 01/28/1930 266,707 Products: Wrenches (all kinds). Renewed 1950 by Bingham-Herbrand Corp.
Herbrand [Script Logo] 11/01/1921 1922 05/29/1923 168,970 Products: Wrenches, Pliers, Hammers, other tools
HERBRAND 11/01/1921 1948 03/28/1950 523,089 Filed by Bingham-Herbrand Corporation
MULTI GRIP 04/19/1930 05/31/1930 07/21/1931 285,332 Products: Plier Wrenches
MULTIGRIP 04/19/1930 11/28/1947 11/01/1949 517,113 Filed by Bingham-Herbrand Corporation

Tool Identification and Markings

Herbrand tools are generally easy to identify, except possibly for some tools made as a contract manufacturer. Most Herbrand tools will be marked with the company name, either in block letters or in script form as a logo, in the latter case with "Fremont, O U.SA." underneath. Tools made for the later Vi-Chrome economy line will be marked "Vi-Chrome USA".

Earlier Herbrand tools were frequently marked with the H-Diamond logo, and the company name may or may not have been marked as well.

Tools made with alloy steels were commonly marked with the well-known "Van-Chrome" trademark, although a substantial number of presumably alloy tools can be found without the trademark. For a while this omission seemed a puzzling anomaly, since most tool companies are very consistent in the use of their trademarks. Recently though, a likely explanation has been found by examination of certain other markings on their tools.

Herbrand tools will occasionally be found with a four-digit number forged into the shank, with "8742" appearing to be the most common combination, but other numbers such as "8640" or "8740" also noted. A search of various sources found that these numbers appear in tables of AISI (or SAE) steel types, and a check of the specific properties of e.g.AISI 8742 steel showed it to be suitable for hand tools. Thus these forged-in numbers are almost certainly an indication of the specific steel used to make the tools. And at least on the examples found so far, the forged-in numbers appear on tools without a Van-Chrome marking.

So how does this relate to the missing Van-Chrome mark? A check of Machinery's Handbook for the composition of AISI 8742 steel showed a medium-carbon triple alloy steel with nickel, chromium, and molybdenum, but no vanadium. (The 8640 and 8740 steels are very similar.) Thus when Herbrand substituted nickel-chrome-moly steel for their standard chrome-vanadium alloy, they apparently felt obliged to omit the trademark that promised vanadium. (One can appreciate the value of trademarks such as Armstrong's Armaloy or Barcalo's Barcaloy that suggest alloyed goodness without a specific composition.)


Manufacturing Dates

Herbrand tools were generally not marked with any type of date code, so the estimation of manufacturing dates must be based on other factors. In this section we'll try to develop guidelines for estimating the manufacturing dates.

The following list of observations may be helpful in determining the manufacturing date for some tools.

  • H-Diamond Trademark. The trademark document gives the first use date for the H-Diamond logo as 1908. This mark is frequently found on older tools and remained in use into the 1920s or later.
  • Van-Chrome Trademark. The Van-Chrome trademark was first used in 1919.
  • Herbrand Script Trademark. The Herbrand script logo with an open underline was registered as a trademark and was first used on tools in 1921.
  • Herbrand Script Logo with "Since 1881". Herbrand tools were frequently marked with the fancy script logo, with "Fremont, O." appearing in the underline and "U.S.A." below and to the right. A small number of tools have been found with the "U.S.A." marking replaced by "Since 1881", and the style of these tools places them in the early 1930s. We now believe that the change in markings may have been done just in 1931, in order to mark the 50th anniversary of the company's founding.
  • End Broaching for S-15 Breaker Bars. The handle of the S-15 breaker bar was broached for 1/2-drive from the 1930s to mid 1940s, but the broaching had been discontinued by 1948.
  • Cadmium Plating. Nickel or chrome plating was standard for most Herbrand tools from the mid 1930s onward, but cadmium finishes were substituted during the wartime years 1942-1945.
  • Fremont Marking. Herbrand was founded in Fremont, Ohio in 1881 and remained there until 1962.
  • Triangle Marking. Late production under Triangle Tool management (1967 and later) was sometimes marked with a small triangle symbol.

Socket Design

Herbrand produced sockets in three different design styles, and the production dates for these can be estimated based on catalog illustrations. The earliest style is identified by a band of parallel knurled lines around the center and was in production from the early 1930s until around 1943.

The second style used a cross-hatched knurled band instead of the simple parallel knurling of the previous style. This style was produced from about 1944 until sometime in the early to mid 1950s.

The third style dropped the knurled band in favor of a simple polished finish, and this remained in production from the mid 1950s onward.

For all three of the design styles, the socket format and construction remained similar. Herbrand preferred sockets with turned-down bases for the larger sizes and a reduced upper diameter for the smaller sizes.


Early Tools

In this section we'll look at examples of Herbrand's early tool production, spanning the period from the early 1900s to the late 1920s.

Open-End Wrenches


23 13/32x1/2 Open-End Wrench

[Herbrand 23 13/32x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 1. Herbrand 23 13/32x1/2 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 1 shows a Herbrand 23 13/32x1/2 open-end wrench, stamped with the Herbrand logo on the face, with the industry-standard model number "23" forged into the shank on the reverse.

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

The reverse faces are stamped "3/16 U.S.S." and "1/4 U.S.S.", references to the older size convention.


25 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench

[Herbrand 25 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 2. Herbrand 25 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

[No. 27] 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench

[Herbrand No. 27 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 3. Herbrand [No. 27] 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 3 shows an early Herbrand [No. 27] 19/32x11/16 open-end wrench, marked with the the H-Diamond logo forged into the shank. The faces are stamped "5/16" and "3/8", references to the older U.S.S. size convention for the 19/32 and 11/16 openings, respectively.

The overall length is 5.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


733 7/8x1 Open-End Wrench

[Herbrand 25 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 4. Herbrand 733 7/8x1 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 4 shows a Herbrand 733 7/8x1 open-end wrench, stamped "Fremont, O. U.S.A." with the Herbrand script logo on the face, and with the the H-Diamond logo forged into the shank.

The overall length is 8.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


30 11/16x7/8 Open-End Wrenches

[Herbrand 30 11/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 5. Herbrand 30 11/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench, with Insets for Reverse Detail, ca. 1921-1927.

Fig. 5 shows an earlier Herbrand model 30 11/16x7/8 open-end wrench, stamped "Fremont, O. U.S.A." with the Herbrand script logo on the face, and with the H-Diamond logo forged into the shank.

The overall length is 7.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The insets show the reverse face markings "3/8 U.S.S." and "1/2 U.S.S.", references to the older U.S.S. size convention.

The Herbrand script logo marking and U.S.S. size convention suggest production in the range 1921-1927.

[Herbrand 30 11/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 6. Herbrand 30 11/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 6 shows a later Herbrand model 30 11/16x7/8 open-end wrench, stamped "Fremont, O. U.S.A." with the Herbrand script logo on the face.


37 1-1/4x1-7/16 Open-End Wrench

[Herbrand 37 1-1/4x1-7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 7. Herbrand 37 1-1/4x1-7/16 Open-End Wrench.

DDL124 1-1/4 Check-Nut Wrench

[Herbrand DDL124 1-1/4 Check-Nut Wrench]
Fig. 8. Herbrand DDL124 1-1/4 Check-Nut Wrench, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 8 at the left shows a Herbrand DDL124 1-1/4 check-nut single-open wrench, marked with the Herbrand script logo on the face, and with the H-Diamond logo on the shank.

The overall length is 10.0 inches.


949 1-1/4 Check-Nut Wrench

[Herbrand 949 1-1/4 Check-Nut Wrench]
Fig. 9. Herbrand 949 1-1/4 Check-Nut Wrench.

Fig. 9 shows a very similar wrench, a Herbrand 949 1-1/4 check-nut single open wrench with the H-Diamond logo on the shank.

The overall length is 10.1 inches.


13/16x7/8 S-Shaped Wrench

[Herbrand Early 13/16x7/8 S-Shaped Wrench]
Fig. 10. Herbrand Early 13/16x7/8 S-Shaped Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1908-1920.

Fig. 10 at the left shows an early Herbrand 13/16x7/8 S-shaped open-end wrench, marked with the H-Diamond logo forged into the shank. The reverse has a number forged into the shank, possibly "834" but difficult to read.

The overall length is 7.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


681A 3/4x7/8 S-Shaped Wrench

[Herbrand 681A 3/4x7/8 S-Shaped Wrench]
Fig. 11. Herbrand 3/4x7/8 S-Shaped Wrench, ca. 1928+.

Fig. 11 shows a later Herbrand 681A 3/4x7/8 S-shaped open-end wrench, stamped "Fremont, O. U.S.A." with the Herbrand script logo on the face.

The overall length is 9.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel with traces of black paint.


Specialty Tools


8323 Early 1 Inch Offset Open-End Wrench

[Herbrand 8323 Early 1 Inch Spark Plug Wrench]
Fig. 12. Herbrand 8323 Early 1 Inch Spark Plug Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1910-1920.

Fig. 12 shows an early Herbrand 8323 1 inch offset open-end wrench, marked with the model number and the H-Diamond logo forged into the shank.

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

Currently we don't have a catalog reference for this model, but it is believed to have been a spark plug wrench.


Early 13689 Spark Plug and Drain Plug Wrench

[Herbrand Early 13689 Spark Plug and Drain Plug Wrench]
Fig. 13. Herbrand Early 13689 Spark Plug and Drain Plug Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1910s to 1920s.

Fig. 13 shows an early Herbrand 13869 spark plug and drain plug wrench, featuring a 1-1/8 offset opening on one end and a 1/2 square stud on the other end. The wrench is marked with "Spark Plug and Oil Reservoir Drain Plug Wrench" forged into the shank, with the "13689" model number and the H-Diamond logo forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 11.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Early 993 9/16x1 Inch Spark Plug Wrench

[Herbrand 993 9/16x1 Inch Spark Plug Wrench]
Fig. 14. Herbrand 993 9/16x1 Inch Spark Plug Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1910-1920.

Fig. 14 shows an early spark plug wrench marked with a previously unknown "Herbrand Fremont" logo, a Herbrand 993 wrench with a 9/16 open end and an offset 1 inch hex box opening. The forged-in markings on the shank have the text "Herbrand Co." and "Fremont, O." arranged in an oval, with the H-Diamond logo in the center.

The overall length is 8.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

Did any of our sharp-eyed readers notice anything odd in the markings on this wrench? The "N" letters in Herbrand and Fremont are inverted, as apparently the incised markings in the forging die were done by hand and the mistake went unnoticed.


Early 9/16x15/16 Open-Box Spark Plug Wrench

[Herbrand 9/16x15/16 Open-Box Spark Plug Wrench]
Fig. 15. Herbrand 9/16x15/16 Open-Box Spark Plug Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1920.

Fig. 15 shows another early Herbrand 9/16x15/16 open-box wrench, marked with an early form of the "Herbrand Fremont" logo. The markings are forged into the shank and include the text "Herbrand Co." and "Fremont, O." arranged in an oval around the H-Diamond logo.

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

Although this wrench is not marked with a model number, an early Herbrand catalog page shows a very similar tool as a No. 993A spark plug wrench. The No. 993A wrench has the same distinctive forged shape and length, but with the open end sized at 11/16 instead of 9/16.

The catalog notes that the wrench was "... designed for convenient service about automobiles, motor boats, gas engines and [...] for flush or depressed plugs."


2334 Spark Plug Wrench

[Herbrand 2334 Wrench]
Fig. 16. Herbrand 2334 Wrench, with Insets for Reverse Detail, ca. 1921-1930.
[Label from Box of Herbrand 2334 Wrenches]
Fig. 17. Label for Herbrand 2334 Wrenches, ca. 1925.

2335 Spark Plug and Head Bolt Wrench

[Herbrand 2335 Spark Plug and Head Bolt Wrench]
Fig. 18. Herbrand 2335 Spark Plug and Head Bolt Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Detail, ca. 1921-1930.

Fig. 18 shows a Herbrand 2335 15/16 open-end and 5/8 hex socket wrench, designed for Ford model T spark plug and engine service. The wrench is stamped "Fremont, O. U.S.A." with the Herbrand script logo on the face, with the model number forged into the reverse shank.

The overall length is 11.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


2336 Spark Plug and Head Bolt Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of the Herbrand 2336 wrench, a popular tool for Model T service.

[Herbrand 2336 Spark Plug Wrench]
Fig. 19. Herbrand 2336 Spark Plug Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Construction Detail, ca. 1921-1930.

Fig. 19 shows a Herbrand 2336 15/16 open-end and 5/8 socket wrench, designed for Ford model T spark plug and engine service. The wrench is marked "Fremont, O. U.S.A." with the Herbrand script logo, and a somewhat muddled H-Diamond logo appears at the left of the forged-in model number.

The overall length is 12.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This wrench is listed in an early Herbrand catalog as a "Ford No. 4 Connecting Rod, Cylinder Head and Spark Plug Wrench", and the description goes on to itemize some of the additional applications for this tool. The distinctive bend in the shank was designed for clearance when servicing the notorious fourth connecting rod.


[Herbrand CFT 2336 Spark Plug Wrench]
Fig. 20. Herbrand "CFT" 2336 Spark Plug Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Construction Detail, ca. 1921-1930.

Fig. 20 shows another example similar of the Herbrand 2336 wrench, but marked as contract production with "CFT" in an oval logo (see lower inset). As with the previous example, the wrench is marked with the H-Diamond logo and the model number forged into the shank, shown as a close-up in the middle left inset.

The overall length is 12.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This wrench was important in helping to identify the "CFT" marking as a secondary brand for Herbrand. See the section on CFT Tools for more information and exmples.


5Z-209 9/16 Single-Open Wrench

[Herbrand 5Z-209 9/16 Single-Open Wrench]
Fig. 21. Herbrand 5Z-209 9/16 Single-Open Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1920-1927.

Fig. 21 shows a Herbrand 5Z-209 9/16 single-open wrench, designed for servicing the Ford Model T connecting rod clamp bolts. The wrench is marked with the model number and H-Diamond logo forged into the shank, and with a faint "EE" code at the right (see inset).

The overall length is 10.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The model number on this wrench indicates that it was made as an official Ford service tool. The 5Z-209 wrench was introduced in late 1920 as a successor to the earlier 3Z-647 connecting rod clamp bolt wrench.


5Z-210 11/16 Ford Flywheel Capscrew Wrench

[Herbrand 5Z-210 11/16 Flywheel Capscrew Wrench]
Fig. 22. Herbrand 5Z-210 11/16 Flywheel Capscrew Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1920-1927.

Fig. 22 shows a Herbrand "Ford" 5Z-210 11/16 single-open wrench designed for servicing the flywheel capscrews on the Ford Model T. The wrench is stamped with the Ford script logo and model number, followed by the Herbrand H-Diamond logo.

The overall length is 13.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The Ford script logo and model number on this wrench indicate that it was made as an official Ford service tool. The 5Z-210 wrench was introduced in late 1920 as a successor to the earlier 3Z-601 flywheel capscrew wrench.


19/32 Square Main Bearing Socket Wrench

[Herbrand 19/32 Square Main Bearing Socket Wrench]
Fig. 23. Herbrand 19/32 Square Main Bearing Socket Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1921-1930.

Fig. 23 shows an early Herbrand 19/32 square socket wrench, believed to be intended for Model T main bearing service. The wrench is stamped "Fremont, O. U.S.A." with the Herbrand script logo, as shown in the lower right inset.

The overall length is 13.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The use of the Herbrand script logo marking indicates production in 1921 or later.


7/8 Brace Socket Wrench

[Herbrand 7/8 Brace Socket Wrench]
Fig. 24. Herbrand 7/8 Brace Socket Wrench, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. 1921-1935.

Fig. 24 shows a Herbrand 7/8 brace socket wrench, intended for demountable rims or other service applications. The socket is stamped with Herbrand script logo and size, as shown in the lower right inset.

The brace has an overall length of 13.3 inches with a throw of 5.0 inches. The finish is plain steel.

The use of the Herbrand script logo marking indicates production in 1921 or later.


905-A 13/16 Single-Open Spud Wrench

[Herbrand 13/16 Single-Open Spud Wrench]
Fig. 25. Herbrand 13/16 Single-Open Spud Wrench, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 25 shows a Herbrand 905-A 13/16 single-open wrench with a spud handle, stamped "Made in U.S.A." on the handle.

The overall length is 13.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel with traces of black paint.

A faint forged-in number "1038" (inverted in the photograph) can be seen on the handle just before the offset. This is a reference to AISI 1038 steel, a medium-carbon steel with some manganese content.

This type of "spud handle" wrench is frequently used for construction jobs such as steel erection, when the pointed handle is useful for lining up holes.


Pliers and Adjustable Wrenches


Early 5 Inch Combination Pliers

[Herbrand Early 5 Inch Combination Pliers]
Fig. 26. Herbrand Early 5 Inch Combination Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 26 shows a pair of Herbrand 5 inch combination pliers with a fixed pivot, stamped "Fremont, O. U.S.A." with the Herbrand script logo, and with "Drop Forged" forged into the underside of the handles.

The overall length is 5.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The handles have a distinctive gripping pattern consisting of three rows of raised diamonds within a depressed panel.

Early 8 Inch Gas Pliers

[Herbrand Early 8 Inch Gas Pliers]
Fig. 27. Herbrand Early 8 Inch Gas Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 27 shows an early pair of Herbrand 8 inch gas pliers, stamped "Fremont, O. U.S.A." with the Herbrand script logo on one handle, with "Drop Forged" forged into the reverse.

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

The top inset shows a side view of the pliers. Note the clearly visible marks from the trimming operation, suggesting that these pliers are of relatively early production.


6 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers

The next two figures show examples of slip-joint combination pliers made by Herbrand.

[Herbrand 6 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers]
Fig. 28. Herbrand 6 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers, with Insets for Handle Pattern and Logo.

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

The lower inset shows the only marking on the tool, the H-Diamond logo on the underside of the handles.

[Herbrand 6 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers]
Fig. 28B. Herbrand 6 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers, with Insets for Side View, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 28B shows another pair of Herbrand 6 inch combination pliers, stamped "Fremont, O USA" with the Herbrand script logo.

The overall length is 6.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

These pliers have a fairly rough finish, with a plainly visible ridge left after the trimming operation, as seen in the upper inset.


Chain Repair Pliers

[Herbrand Chain Repair Pliers]
Fig. 29. Herbrand Chain Repair Pliers, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 29 shows a pair of Herbrand chain repair pliers, stamped with "Fremont, O." and the Herbrand script logo.

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with extensive pitting due to rust.

These Herbrand pliers are similar to the McKaig-Hatch Chain Repair Pliers shown on another page, but have a slightly different jaw design.


7 Inch Auto Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of Herbrand adjustable auto wrenches.

[Herbrand 7 Inch Auto Wrench]
Fig. 30. Herbrand 7 Inch Auto Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1921-1930.

Fig. 30 shows an earlier Herbrand 7 inch auto wrench, stamped with the Herbrand script logo and "Fremont, O. U.S.A." on the shank, with the H-Diamond logo forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 7.0 inches, and the maximum opening is 1.8 inches. The original finish was nickel plating, but much has been lost due to rust.

The inset shows a closeup of the H-Diamond logo on the reverse shank, although pitted from the extensive rust. (The wrench was electrolytically de-rusted for display.)

[Herbrand 7 Inch Auto Wrench]
Fig. 31. Herbrand 7 Inch Auto Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 31 shows a Herbrand 7 inch auto wrench, marked with the Herbrand script logo and "Fremont, O. U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.0 inches, and the maximum opening is 1.8 inches. The finish is plain steel.


9 Inch Auto Wrenches

[Herbrand 9 Inch Auto Wrench]
Fig. 32A. Herbrand 9 Inch Auto Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1910s to 1920s.

Fig. 32A shows a Herbrand 9 inch auto wrench, marked with "Herbrand" and "Fremont, O." forged into the handle, with the H-Diamond logo forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 9.0 inches, and the maximum opening is 2.1 inches. The finish is plain steel, with some pitting due to rust.

[Herbrand 9 Inch Auto Wrench]
Fig. 32B. Herbrand 9 Inch Auto Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 32B shows a Herbrand 9 inch auto wrench, stamped with the Herbrand script logo on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.0 inches, and the maximum opening is 2.2 inches. The finish is black paint.


Hammers and Striking Tools


11 Inch Auto Hammer

[Herbrand 11 Inch Auto Hammer]
Fig. 33. Herbrand 11 Inch Auto Hammer, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1920s.

Fig. 33 shows a Herbrand 11 inch auto hammer, constructed as a one-piece forging with a ball-pein head and a flat steel handle. The head is stamped "Fremont, U.S.A." with the Herbrand script logo (see middle inset).

The overall length is 11.2 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The end of the handle is curved with a slightly sharpened edge, allowing it to be used for removing a tire from the rim.


The CFT Line

For several years we have been tracking a line of mystery tools with a "CFT" oval stamped marking, including such items as pliers, wrenches, and specialty tools. We have noted a likely connection with Herbrand, as the known examples of CFT tools closely resemble the equivalent Herbrand models. With the recent finding that the Herbrand founder's son Creighton Fuller Thompson (initials CFT) was a vice-president and later president of the company, we are now reasonably certain that the CFT-oval marking was a secondary brand used by Herbrand.

The "CFT" tools can be identified by a distinctive CFT-Oval marking containing the letters "CFT". Originally we were unsure whether the order might have been "CTF" or even "TCF", but once the significance of the CFT initials was discovered, the meaning became clear.

The time period for the use of the "CFT" brand probably falls in the late 1910s to mid 1920s, a time when tools for automobile toolkits and emergency repairs were in high demand. The "CFT" brand is not known to have been advertised, suggesting that it was probably used for the generic tools offered by large retailers or mail-order companies.

The next several figures show examples of the "CFT" branded tools. (These photographs previously appeared in our section on Mystery Tools.)


"CFT" 8 Inch Gas Pliers

[CFT 8 Inch Gas Pliers]
Fig. 34. "CFT" 8 Inch Gas Pliers, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 34 shows a pair of "CFT" gas pliers, marked "Drop Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." inside an oval logo with "CFT" in the center.

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

The top inset shows the rough finish of the forging, with a prominent edge left by the trimming operation. Despite the rough appearance, the pliers are ruggedly made with hardened jaws. The design is similar to the popular gas-and-burner pliers, but without the small opening in the end of the jaws.

[CFT 8 Inch Gas Pliers]
Fig. 35. CFT 8 Inch Gas Pliers, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 35 shows another similar pair of "CFT" gas pliers, stamped "Drop Forged" and "Made in U.S.A." inside an oval logo with "CFT" in the center. The pliers are also marked with "Drop Forged" forged into each handle.

The overall length is 8.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The maker of these pliers can be identified as Herbrand based on the close resemblance to the Herbrand Early Gas Pliers.


"CFT" 7 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers

[CFT 7 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers]
Fig. 36. CFT 7 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 36 shows a pair of "CFT" 7 inch slip-joint combination pliers, stamped with the CFT-Oval logo, and with "Drop Forged" forged into the underside of the handles.

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

These pliers have a distinctive gripping pattern on the handles, allowing us to identify the maker as Herbrand based on the close resemblance to the Herbrand 5 Inch Combination Pliers.


"CFT" 681A 3/4x7/8 S-Shaped Wrench

[CFT 681A 3/4x7/8 S-Shaped Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 37. CFT 681A 3/4x7/8 S-Shaped Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 37 shows a CFT 681A 3/4x7/8 S-shaped open-end wrench, stamped with the CFT-Oval logo on one face, and with "681" forged into the reverse shank. (The inset is upside-down in the photograph.)

The overall length is 9.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

In this example the CFT-Oval logo is a simpler design, with just the three interlocking letters.

An example of this model with the Herbrand marking can be seen as the Herbrand 681A S-Shaped Wrench.


"CFT" (Herbrand) 2336 Spark-Plug and Head-Bolt Wrench

This next example of the CFT brand is also marked with the well-known Herbrand H-Diamond logo, providing further evidence that the CFT tools are just rebranded Herbrand production.

[CFT (Herbrand) 2336 Spark Plug Wrench]
Fig. 38. "CFT" (Herbrand) 2336 Spark Plug Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Construction Detail, ca. 1921-1930.

Fig. 38 shows a "CFT" 2336 spark-plug and head-bolt wrench, stamped with the CFT-Oval logo on the face, and marked with the Herbrand H-Diamond logo and model number forged into the shank. (See the middle left inset for a close-up photograph.)

The overall length is 12.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


"CFT" 5 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers

[CFT 5 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers]
Fig. 39. CFT 5 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 39 shows a pair of "CFT" 4 inch slip-joint combination pliers, stamped with the CFT-Oval logo near the pivot.

The overall length is 5.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

These pliers show a higher degree of finishing than the previous examples of the CFT line, with smoothly ground sides and a nickel plated finish.


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