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Hinsdale In Hindsight

[Hinsdale Name and Logo from No. 10B-R Socket Set]
Hinsdale Name and Logo from No. 10B-R Socket Set, ca. Mid 1920s.

Hinsdale Manufacturing was a Chicago tool company with a significant role as an early maker of automotive service tools. This page will offer a retrospective look at Hinsdale and its tools.

Table of Contents

Introduction

This page will look at the Hinsdale Manufacturing Company, a maker of hand tools active in the Chicago area during the 1920s through 1940s. Although not very well known today, at one time Hinsdale products were sold widely through Western Auto, Sears Roebuck, and automotive supply distributors.

We'll briefly review the history (what little is known) of the company, then look at some examples of tools produced by Hinsdale. Although both tools and information are in short supply, hopefully the material presented here will be useful.

Company History

The Hinsdale Manufacturing Company was founded in 1919 by Fred W. Miller, and operated initially in Hinsdale, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The founding date can confirmed by at least two sources: a reprinted early advertisement in AWM2e, and a 1947 Hinsdale catalog that provides a brief company history.

Hinsdale Manufacturing's first factory was located at 47th and County Line Road in Hinsdale, but the company remained in Hinsdale only briefly. By 1921 the company had moved into a factory at 1857 Fulton Street in Chicago, and apparently also established a business or sales office at 215-217 North Desplaines Avenue, a few blocks away from the Fulton Street address. The 1930 Donnelley's Industrial Directory listed Hinsdale Manufacturing at 217 North Desplaines, and an advertising brochure from 1933 lists the address at 215 North Desplaines. The company remained at the 1857 Fulton Street location for its subsequent years.

During the 1920s the company produced a variety of wrenches, socket sets, fixed-socket wrenches, and automotive specialty tools. Recently found catalog information has shown that Hinsdale products were widely available through high-volume catalog retailers, including Western Auto and Sears Roebuck; this would have given Hinsdale a national footprint for sales. In addition, at least some of their socket sets and specialty tools were sold through Beckley-Ralston, a large distributor-dealer of automotive tools and equipment.

The 1924 Western Auto "Ford Owner's Supply Book" offered a Hinsdale socket set by name, and a group of specialty tools are shown with the Hinsdale logo, a rounded "H" with a circle. Another of Hinsdale's products, the G-20 socket set, became widely associated as the tool set for the popular Ford Model T, and likely sold in high volumes for that time. By 1931 the Sears catalog offered several socket sets identifiable as Hinsdale by the illustration of the distinctive Convertible T-L Handle, or in some cases offered under the Hinsdale name.

By 1929 (or earlier) Hinsdale was offering socket sets of chrome-nickel alloy steel. An advertisement in Popular Science Monthly from May of 1929 ( page 141 at the left) offers a "36 Piece Chrome Nickel Master Socket Wrench Set" for just $7.95 plus shipping. The set included a ratchet, T-L handle, speeders, and a selection of sockets, and the description specifically mentions the use of S.A.E. 3130 alloy steel.

By 1930 Hinsdale had begun using the "Bob Cat" brand for alloy steel tools, with a logo composed of a growling cat's head between the two words. This brand has been noted in the Sears Roebuck catalogs, but was not previously known as a Hinsdale product. Several examples of advertisements for Bob Cat tools have been found in Popular Science Monthly, such as the one from April of 1931 (page 132 at the upper right) offering an "Alloy Chisel Set" made of "Bob Cat Special Alloy Steel". The "Bob Cat" branded tools are not very common, suggesting that the brand may have been in use only briefly.

An interesting snippet of Hinsdale history comes from the web site of Berland's Tools, a company with connections to the founders of Sherman-Klove (S-K) tools. According to the historical information posted there, Sherman-Klove was the manufacturer of the socket sets sold by Hinsdale, and in the early 1930s Hinsdale ceased operations. This left Sherman-Klove with a large inventory of unsold goods, and handling the leftover inventory provided the impetus to form S-K Hand Tools in 1932. S-K of course went on to find considerable success on its own.

In spite of whatever difficulties occurred during the depression years, Hinsdale was able to resume operations sometime later. By 1933 the company was advertising box-end wrenches and socket sets made of chrome vanadium steel, including wrenches in the HD-series identified as being sold under the Sears Craftsman brand.

During the 1930s the company developed a line of heavy-duty tools for use in oilfield or other industrial applications, a line which included socket tools of 1-1/4 inch drive size. A catalog from around 1947 shows them with a modest line of service and maintenance tools, including socket sets, open and box-end wrenches, combination wrenches, and other tools. The catalog also includes pictures of their production facilities and of the Hinsdale booth at a trade show.


Patents

Hinsdale developed or licensed a number of patents for its tool production, and these are summarized in the table below. Also included are patents issued to Fred W. Miller, the company's founder, although it's uncertain whether these were used in production by Hinsdale.

Table 1. Hinsdale Manufacturing: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedDescriptionExamples
1,425,816 V.J. Van Horn01/06/192108/15/1922Ratchet Wrench Early Ratchet
1,597,747 F. Wermes10/04/192308/31/1926Convertible Wrench Handle [TL-1] TL-1 Convertible Handle
1,597,939 F. Wermes06/25/192308/31/1926Wrench with Swivel Socket  
1,650,085 J. McDonough12/15/192411/22/1927Ratchet Wrench H-1 Ratchet
1,765,496 F.W. Miller06/01/192806/24/1930Wrench Holder  
1,808,856 F.W. Miller11/19/192806/09/1931Valve Grinder Attachment  

Trademarks

Hinsdale Manufacturing does not appear at all in a search of the USPTO trademark records, despite their references to trademark registration in company literature and even in tool forgings!

Hinsdale used the "Bob Cat" brand for some alloy steel tools, probably beginning in 1930 or shortly before.


Tool Identification

Hinsdale tools are generally easy to identify, as they were typically marked with a distinctive logo resembling a rounded "H" in a circle. We will refer to this as the Round-H-Circle logo in the text.

The Hinsdale rounded "H" logo should not be confused with the H-Circle logo used by New Britain Machine for Craftsman-branded tools. The latter H-Circle uses an "H" with straight sides.

Hinsdale tools marked with the Bob Cat brand were generally not marked with the company name or the Round-H-Circle logo. The Bob Cat marking sometimes appeared as a single word, and sometimes as two words with a cat's head in between.


Early Tools


Early 5/8x11/16 Open-End Wrench with Stamped Construction

[Hinsdale 5/8x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 1. Hinsdale 5/8x11/16 Open-End Wrench, ca. 1919-1921.

Fig. 1 shows an early Hinsdale 5/8x11/16 open-end wrench of stamped steel construction, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo, and with "Hinsdale, Illinois" below.

The overall length is 6.3 inches, and the finish is a thin nickel plating.

The "Hinsdale, Illinois" marking on this wrench indicates early production, as the company remained in its Hinsdale location only from 1919 through 1921.


Early 11/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench for Ford Reverse and Brake Bands

[Hinsdale 5/8x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 2. Hinsdale 11/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1919 to Early 1920s.

Fig. 2 shows an early Hinsdale 11/16 ratcheting box wrench for Ford Model T brake and reverse band adjustment, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Round-H-Circle logo.

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

This type of wrench was very popular for Model T service and similar tools were made by a number of manufacturers. Examples on this site include the Bog Ratcheting Box Wrench and Mossberg 645 Ratcheting Box Wrench.


Fixed Socket Wrenches

In the years before 1920, fixed socket wrenches were among the most important tools for automobile repair. Standard configurations and sizes were available for popular cars (i.e. the Model T), and most service jobs could be performed with a selection of 5 or 10 wrenches. Although the popularity of the fixed socket wrenches declined as interchangeable sockets improved, these tools continued selling well into the 1920s.

Hinsdale is known to have produced a number of models of fixed socket wrenches, based on the listings in the 1924 Western Auto Supply catalog. However, these tools are now fairly uncommon, and currently we have only a single model to display.


9/16 Ell-Shaped Socket Wrench

[Hinsdale 9/16 Ell-Shaped Socket Wrench]
Fig. 3. Hinsdale 9/16 Ell-Shaped Socket Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1919-1925.

Fig. 3 shows a Hinsdale 9/16 Ell-shaped socket wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.


F2 9/16x3/4 Ell Socket Wrench

[Hinsdale F2 9/16x3/4 Ell Socket Wrench]
Fig. 4. Hinsdale F2 9/16x3/4 Ell Socket Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1919-1925.

Fig. 4 shows a Hinsdale F2 9/16x3/4 Ell socket wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 9.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of cadmium plating.


F3 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 Triple Socket Wrench

[Hinsdale F3 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 Triple Socket Wrench]
Fig. 5. Hinsdale F3 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 Triple Socket Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1919-1925.

Fig. 5 shows a Hinsdale F3 (1/2x5/8)x5/8 triple socket wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo shank, with the model number at the left and the opening sizes at the right (see lower inset).

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of cadmium plating.


F4 11/16 Offset Socket Wrench

[Hinsdale F4 11/16 Offset Socket Wrench]
Fig. 6. Hinsdale F4 11/16 Offset Socket Wrench, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1919-1925.

Fig. 6 shows a Hinsdale F4 11/16 offset socket wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 11.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

This wrench was designed for servicing the Model T flywheel bolts, a job requiring an offset in the shank to clear obstacles. Similar wrenches by other manufacturers include the Blackhawk 4122 Socket Wrench and Walden 3822 Socket Wrench.


Pressed-Steel Socket Sets

Hinsdale's earliest products included square-drive sockets of pressed-steel construction, as socket sets of this type were very popular as automobile tool kits. These Hinsdale pressed-steel socket sets are now rather somewhat uncommon, but we've been able to acquire one example for display.


Early 1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Socket Set

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Socket Set]
Fig. 7. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Socket Set, ca. 1919 to Early 1920s.

Fig. 7 shows an early Hinsdale 1/2-drive pressed-steel socket set, all neatly contained in a wooden box with an organizer to hold the tools in place. The label on the inside of the lid reads "Hinsdale Manufacturing Company" with "Tools of Quality" and "Chicago", and the Round-H-Circle logo is printed in red between the "Hins" and "Dale".

The tools in the set consist of 14 hex sockets, 6 square sockets, a double-male extension, and a universal joint. The original drive tool was no longer with the set when acquired, but might have been a ratchet or possibly just an L-handle.

The sockets in the set are all marked on the base with the fractional size, plus "Made in U.S.A." and the Hinsdale Round-H-Circle logo. The hex sockets have sizes 3/8, 7/16, 17/32, 9/16, 21/32, 11/16, 3/4, 27/32, 29/32, 31/32, 1-1/32, 1-3/32, 1-1/8, and 1-1/4. Several of the sockets are cracked, in some cases at the hex opening and in others at the drive end.

The square sockets are sized 1/2, 19/32, 11/16, 25/32, 7/8, and 1-1/4, and are shown in detail in the next figure.


1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Square Sockets

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Socket Set]
Fig. 8. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Pressed-Steel Square Sockets, ca. 1919 to Early 1920s.

Fig. 8 at the left shows the square sockets from the early pressed-steel socket set, all marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Round-H-Circle logo.

The sizes are, front row from the left, 1/2, 19/32, 11/16, and back row from the left, 25/32, 7/8, and 1-1/4.

Note that the 1/2 square socket would have served as a coupler as well as a socket, to allow the extension to be used with the universal, or for either tool to be used with a male drive handle.


1/2-Drive Forged Universal

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Forged Universal]
Fig. 9. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Forged Universal, ca. 1919 to Early 1920s.

Fig. 9 shows the 1/2-drive forged universal from the pressed-steel socket set, marked with the Round-H-Circle logo forged into the base of the fork. (The logo resembles a dash between parentheses, somewhat like this "(-)".)

The overall length is 3.3 inches.


Hex-Drive Sockets and Tools

By the mid 1920s Hinsdale was offering compact hex-drive socket sets, typically in a metal box with a sliding lid or in a metal holder.


No. 10B-R 7/16-Hex Drive Socket Set

[Hinsdale No. 10B-R 7/16-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 10. Hinsdale No. 10B-R 7/16-Hex Drive Socket Set, ca. Mid 1920s.

Fig. 10 shows a Hinsdale No. 10B-R 7/16-hex drive socket set as acquired, consisting of a hex Ell-handle and two types of hex-drive sockets. Based on the description in a Hinsdale flyer, this set is missing a ratchet, drive plug, and one standard socket. In addition, the pressed-steel sockets at the left are spurious.

The set is embossed on the lid with "Hinsdale" and the embedded Round-H-Circle logo, with "Made in U.S.A." below. None of the tools are marked, not even for the socket sizes.

The measured socket sizes are, from the right, 1/2, 5/8, 11/16, 25/32, and 7/8. One socket is missing, a 9/16 size.

The tapered steel box has an embossed lid that slides into place to close, a popular style of container for socket sets at the time. The overall length of the box is 9 inches.

One unusual detail for this socket set is the 7/16-hex drive size; more typically such sets were 1/2-drive, or 3/8-drive for smaller sockets. A later Hinsdale advertising flyer lists this set as having 1/2-hex drive, indicating that this example is likely an early production version. The same flyer describes the set as consisting of a ratchet and drive plug, Ell-handle, and six hex sockets with sizes 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, and 7/8.

The "B-R" marking on the right hand side of the lid requires a bit of explanation. In earlier versions of this article, we incorrectly interpreted this marking as indicating a set sold by the Beckley-Ralston Company, a large distributer-dealer of automobile accessories and related products. We later acquired a Hinsdale advertising flyer with listings for both 10B and 10B-R socket sets, the 10B with just an Ell-handle ("Bar") and the 10B-R with both Ell-handle and ratchet. Thus the "B-R" is now understood to be just part of the model number, to indicate a set with a ratchet included. It's still the case that Beckley-Ralston was a distributor of Hinsdale products, but the socket set markings do not indicate a specific distributor.


S-15 7/16-Hex Drive Ratchet

[Hinsdale S-15 7/16-Hex Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 11. Hinsdale S-15 7/16-Hex Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. Mid 1920s.

Fig. 11 shows Hinsdale S-15 7/16-hex drive ratchet, stamped "Made in U.S.A." and "Hinsdale" with the Round-H-Circle logo embedded, and with a "Pat. Pend." notation below.

The overall length is 8.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of the original nickel plating.

The pending status refers to patent #1,650,085, filed by J.W. McDonough in 1924 and issued in 1927.

Although not acquired with the set, this ratchet is the correct size and style for the No. 10B-R 7/16-hex drive socket set shown in the previous figure.

Note that Hinsdale also offered the model S-15 ratchet with a 1/2-hex drive broaching, as seen in the No. 12B-R 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set. Based on a Hinsdale advertising flyer which offered both No. 10B-R and No. 12B-R sets in the 1/2-hex drive size, the 7/16-hex drive of this example can be taken as an indication of earlier production.


No. 12B-R 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set

[Hinsdale No. 12B-R 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 12. Hinsdale No. 12B-R 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set, ca. 1924-1927.

In Fig. 12 we see a slightly later Hinsdale No. 12B-R 1/2-hex drive socket set, consisting of an S-15 ratchet with C-3 drive stud, a C-1 hex Ell-handle, and nine hex sockets.

The socket sizes are, from the right top, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, 25/32, and 7/8 inch. The sockets are all marked with the fractional size, and some have a "C" prefix to form a part number. For example, the 1/2 socket is marked "C-1/2".

The ratchet in this set is marked as model S-15 and has a "Pat. Pend." notation on the handle. After a search of the patent records, the corresponding patent was found to be #1,650,085, issued to John W. McDonough on November 22, 1927, with assignment to Hinsdale Manufacturing. As the patent was filed in 1924, this particular ratchet was likely manufactured between 1924 and 1927.

The "B-R" marking on the right hand side of the lid requires a bit of explanation. In earlier versions of this article, we incorrectly interpreted this marking as indicating a set sold by the Beckley-Ralston Company, a large distributer-dealer of automobile accessories and related products. We later acquired a Hinsdale advertising flyer with listings for both 10B and 10B-R socket sets, the 10B with just an Ell-handle ("Bar") and the 10B-R with both Ell-handle and ratchet. Thus the "B-R" is now understood to be just part of the model number, to indicate a set with a ratchet included. It's still the case that Beckley-Ralston was a distributor of Hinsdale products, but the socket set markings do not indicate a specific distributor.


[Hex Sockets from No. 12B-R Socket Set]
Fig. 13. Hex Sockets from the Hinsdale No. 12B-R Socket Set.

Fig. 13 shows the 1/2-hex drive sockets from the No. 12B-R set. The sizes are, from the left, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, 25/32, and 7/8 inch, and the sockets are stamped with the Round-H-Circle logo.

The construction is typical for this type of set: thin-walled sockets made of hardened steel, with a knurled band in the center.


No. 00 1/2-Hex Drive Compact Socket Set

[Hinsdale No. 00 Socket Set]
Fig. 14. Hinsdale No. 00 Socket Set, with Inset for Top View, ca. 1924-1927.

Fig. 14 shows a 1/2-hex drive Hinsdale No. 00 socket set in a compact metal holder, consisting of an Ell-handle, an S-15 ratchet, a drive plug, and eight hex sockets. The retaining clip is marked with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo, plus the "No. 00" set number and a "Pat. Pend." notice.

The hex sockets have sizes 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, 25/32, and 7/8 inch. (The original 3/4 socket was missing when the set was acquired, so this socket was borrowed from the No. 12 set above for the photograph.) The sockets are all marked with the fractional size, but only two (excluding the borrowed socket) are marked with the Round-H-Circle logo, and the 19/32 socket is marked with a "C-19/32" model number.

The patent pending notice probably refers to a patent filed for the socket set holder, but the corresponding patent (if issued) has not yet been found.


[Sockets from Hinsdale No. 00 Socket Set]
Fig. 15. Sockets from Hinsdale No. 00 Socket Set, ca. 1924-1927.

Fig. 15 at the left shows the eight hex sockets from the Hinsdale No. 00 set. The sizes are, from the left, 7/8, 25/32, 3/4, 11/16, 5/8, 19/32, 9/16, and 1/2. (As mentioned above, the 3/4 socket was borrowed from the No. 12 set shown above.)


Square-Drive Sockets and Tools

Sometime in the early 1920s, Hinsdale began producing heavy-wall machined sockets and heavy-duty drive tools, as it became apparent that stronger tools would be needed for typical automobile repairs.


Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[Early Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 16. Early Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Socket Set, with Ratchet Patented Aug. 15, 1922, ca. 1922-1924.

Fig. 16 shows a significant early Hinsdale socket set, consisting of a ratchet with drive stud, an extension, a universal, and 16 heavy-wall machined sockets (with one missing). The label on the inside of the lid is worn away in one area, but reads "Hinsdale Manufacturing Company" with "Tools of Quality" and "Chicago". The Round-H-Circle logo appears in red between the "Hins" and "Dale".

The ratchet is notable in its patent date of Aug. 15, 1922, corresponding to patent #1,425,816, the earliest of the patents used by Hinsdale. Based on this early patent, this set is believed to be one of the first Hinsdale sets to use square-drive machined sockets. Earlier sets contained sockets suitable for lighter duty work, with thin-wall hex drive or pressed steel square drive.

Later Hinsdale socket sets are usually found with the more robust model H-1 ratchet shown later in this article. The relatively thin sheet-metal head of the present ratchet was not a sufficient match for the stronger sockets.

Of the other drive tools, the double-female universal is marked with model H-3, and appears to be substantially the same as the later H-3 universal shown below. The extension is marked "2" and has a square shaft with pinched tabs, a characteristic of early drive tools.


1/2-Drive Ratchet with Early Patent

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Ratchet with Early Patent]
Fig. 17. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Ratchet with Early Patent, ca. 1922-1924.

Fig. 17 shows the early ratchet from the set, with "Made in U.S.A." curved around the Hinsdale logo, and the "Pat. Aug. 15 1922" patent date.

The overall length is 9.2 inches.

The drive plug for the ratchet was unmarked, but is comparable to the model 3 1/2 plug shown below.


1/2-Drive Model 2 Extension

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive No. 2 Extension]
Fig. 18. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive No. 2 Extension, ca. 1922-1924.

Fig. 18 shows the extension from the set, marked with the Hinsdale logo and "2".

The overall length is 7.5 inches.

This early extension has a square shaft with pinched tabs as stops, which was typical construction for this type of tool in the early 1920s.


Early 1/2-Drive 6-Point Sockets

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Sockets from Early Set]
Fig. 19. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Sockets from Early Set, ca. 1922-1924.

Fig. 19 shows a selection of the 6-point sockets from the set, all marked with the Hinsdale Round-H-Circle logo and the fractional size. (The sizes are on the opposite side, not visible in the photograph.)

The sizes are, from the left in front, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, and 1/2, and in the back, 13/16, 7/8, 15/16, and 1 inch.

The full set included 15 hex sockets from 5/16 up to 1 inch, and one square socket of size 1/2.

These sockets are very similar to those in later 1/2-drive sets, as shown in the 1/2-drive 6-point sockets below.


H-1 1/2-Drive Ratchet

[Hinsdale H-1 Ratchet]
Fig. 20. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive H-1 Ratchet with "Pat. Pend.", ca. 1924-1927.

Fig. 20 shows a 1/2-drive Hinsdale H-1 ratchet acquired with a set of other Hinsdale 1/2-drive tools. In this ratchet design the pawl tooth is part of the handle, which pivots around the larger pin to either engage the gear or release it completely. The ratchet was typically used with a model 3 1/2 drive plug (see Fig. 18 below) but could be used with a double-male extension as well.

This ratchet has the same design as the model S-15 ratchet shown with the No. 12B-R Socket Set, and also happens to be marked with a "Pat. Pend." notation. The ratchets are covered by patent #1,650,085, which places the likely date of manufacture in the range 1924-1927.


TL-1 1/2-Drive Convertible Tee- and Ell-Handle

[Hinsdale TL-1 1/2-Drive Tee and Ell-Handle]
Fig. 21. Hinsdale TL-1 1/2-Drive Tee- and Ell-Handle, ca. 1923+.

Fig. 21 shows a Hinsdale model TL-1 1/2-drive "convertible" Tee- and Ell-handle. The metal sheath slides down the handle and can be turned at right angles to make a Tee-handle, or used at the long end as an Ell-handle.

This tool has a "Pat. Apld. For" notation as was the case with the H-1 ratchet. After a lengthy search of the patent records, the patent was found to be #1,597,747, filed by F. Wermes in 1923 and issued on August 31, 1926. The patent dates would suggest an estimated production date in the range 1923-1926; however, all known examples of this tool have been found with the patent applied marking, rather than a patent date or number.

Duro/Indestro made a similar convertible Tee- and Ell-handle, an example of which can be seen as the Duro No. 660 Convertible LT Handle. Duro took a different approach in their version, and one significant difference is that the metal sheath can be completely removed from the handle bar, whereas Hinsdale's tool has metal tabs on the handle to prevent removal.

Although the two companies' convertible handles look very similar, the sheaths do differ in some details. Hinsdale's sheath is open along the entire edge and slopes gradually from the ends to a point in the center. Duro's sheath is wrapped into a circular section at the ends, but is open in the center area and slopes from an intermediate point to the center.

Some readers may wonder why we're reporting such small differences in mind-numbing detail, but there's a very specific reason. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Sears Roebuck sold socket sets from both Duro and Hinsdale, though not necessarily under each company's name. The Sears catalogs can provide a valuable snapshot of the socket sets produced by these companies, but only when a set illustrated in the catalog can be attributed to a specific maker. Making such an attribution requires close attention to seemingly insignificant details, such as the shape of the sheath on a convertible handle.


H-2 1/2-Drive Extension

[Hinsdale Extensions]
Fig. 22. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive Extensions, from Bottom: H-2 Extension, Model 3 1/2 Drive Plug, ca. 1924-1926.

In Fig. 22 we see a Hinsdale H-2 double-male extension and a model 3 1/2 drive plug, both for 1/2-drive, and both pieces are marked with the Round-H-Circle logo. These pieces were part of the set that included the H-1 ratchet and TL-1 breaker shown above.

Overall lengths are 1.25 inches for the model 3 1/2 and 7.75 inches for the H-2.


6-Point 1/2-Drive Sockets

[Hinsdale 6-Point Sockets]
Fig. 23. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive 6-Point Sockets, from Left: 11/32, 1/2, 3/4, 1", ca. 1924-1926.

Fig. 23 shows a representative selection of the 1/2-drive 6-point sockets from the set with the H-1 ratchet and TL-1 breaker described above. The sockets are marked with the Hinsdale Round-H-Circle logo and the fractional size, with sizes ranging from 5/16 to 1-1/8. (The set included a number of 4-point sockets as well.)

The knurled band in the center is coarse enough that it could be considered functional, to assist with turning the socket by hand.

The sockets have typical early construction: the openings were first machined, then broached, and finally hardened. The finish appears to be a nickel plate, and rather well done for sockets dating to the mid-1920s.

[Hinsdale Sockets Showing Broaching Details]
Fig. 24. Closeup of Hinsdale 1/2-Drive 6-Point Sockets, from Left: 3/4, 1".

Fig. 24 shows a closeup of the inside of the larger sockets to illustrate the construction. The center of the flats show tooling marks where the interior was first drilled out. A careful look at the shelf below the broached area shows dents below the broached corners, showing that the broaching was done after all of the boring and turning operations.


H-3 1/2-Drive Universal

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive H-3 Universal Joint]
Fig. 25. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive H-3 Double-Female Universal Joint, ca. 1924-1926.

Fig. 25 shows a Hinsdale 1/2-drive H-3 double-female universal joint, again from the same set of tools as the ratchet and sockets described above.


DR-1 1/2-Drive Short Speeder

[Hinsdale DR-1 1/2-Drive Short Speeder]
Fig. 26. Hinsdale DR-1 1/2-Drive Short Speeder, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 26 shows a Hinsdale 1/2-drive DR-1 short speeder with a knurled end piece, stamped with the "Hinsdale" name and embedded Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 13 inches.

Note that the drive end has a raised shoulder (as a stop) on only one facet of the square, rather than on all four. This seems to have been a characteristic of Hinsdale production.


DS-1 1/2-Drive Long Speeder

[Hinsdale DS-1 1/2-Drive Long Speeder]
Fig. 27. Hinsdale DS-1 1/2-Drive Long Speeder, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. Mid to Late 1920s.

Fig. 27 shows a 1/2-drive Hinsdale DS-1 speeder, stamped with the "Hinsdale" name and embedded Round-H-Circle logo. This speeder has a knurled end piece and an overall length of 18.9 inches.

The two speeders were acquired separately from the H-1 ratchet and socket set above, so their time relationship with the other tools is unknown. The DS-1 model has a heavy nickel plate finish and appears to be of later production than the DR-1 example; though the manufacturing dates are uncertain, these tools were likely made in the 1920s.


G-20 1/2-Drive Socket Set

Fig. 28. Hinsdale G-20 Socket Set To Be Added.

1/2-Drive Nickel-Chrome Socket

In the late 1920s Hinsdale began producing some sockets using a nickel-chrome alloy steel, as the next example illustrates.

[Hinsdale Nickel-Chrome 1/2-Drive 1-1/16 Hex Socket]
Fig. 29. Hinsdale Nickel-Chrome 1/2-Drive 1-1/16 Hex Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. late 1920s.

Fig. 29 shows a 1/2-drive Hinsdale 1-1/16 hex socket of nickel-chrome alloy steel, stamped on the base with the Round-H-Circle logo and "Nickel Chrome".

The socket has a band of cross-hatched knurling around the center, and the construction shows a recessed area below the broaching. Note that the upper walls are slightly tapered.


Open-End Wrenches

By 1929 Hinsdale had begun offering open-end wrenches made with chrome vanadium alloy steel. The wrenches were designed with the Hinsdale name and logo forged into the shank, with the model number and "Chrome-Vanadium-Steel" on the reverse. Six models were available, with openings ranging from 1/4 to 1 inch.

An example of these early alloy steel wrenches can be seen in a June 1929 advertisement in Popular Science Monthly, which shows a Hinsdale Chrome Vanadium Wrench Set in the right-hand column. The illustration shows a set of five wrenches in a holder, although later advertisements show six wrenches in the set. The text notes the use of S.A.E. 6130 chrome-vanadium steel and states that the wrenches are "Guaranteed Forever Against Breakage". The wrench set could be ordered by mail for just $2.00 plus shipping. (This same advertisement is also reprinted in AWM2e on page 167.)

The next several figures show examples of these early Hinsdale wrenches.


No. 1 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench

[Hinsdale No. 1 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 30. Hinsdale No. 1 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1929.

Fig. 30 shows a Hinsdale No. 1 7/16x1/2 open-end wrench, marked with the Hinsdale logo and "T.M. REG." forged into the shank, with "Chrome-Vanadium-Steel" and the model number forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 5.0 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.

The top inset shows a side view of the wrench, illustrating the ridge of material left by the trimming operation.


No. 2 9/16x19/32 Open-End Wrench

[Hinsdale No. 2 9/16x19/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 31. Hinsdale No. 2 9/16x19/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1929.

Fig. 31 shows a Hinsdale No. 2 9/16x19/32 open-end wrench, marked with the Hinsdale logo and "T.M. REG." forged into the shank, with "Chrome-Vanadium-Steel" and the model number forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 5.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with losses due to wear.


No. 3 5/8x11/16 Open-End Wrench

[Hinsdale No. 3 5/8x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 32. Hinsdale No. 3 5/8x11/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1929.

Fig. 32 shows a Hinsdale No. 3 5/8x11/16 open-end wrench, marked with the Hinsdale logo and "T.M. REG." forged into the shank, with "Chrome-Vanadium-Steel" and the model number forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


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

[Hinsdale No. 4 3/4x25/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 33. Hinsdale No. 4 3/4x25/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1929.

Fig. 33 shows a Hinsdale No. 4 3/4x25/32 open-end wrench, marked with the Hinsdale logo and "T.M. REG." forged into the shank, with "Chrome-Vanadium-Steel" and the model number forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with some losses due to wear.


No. 5 7/8x15/16 Open-End Wrench

[Hinsdale No. 5 7/8x15/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 34. Hinsdale No. 5 7/8x15/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset Showing Reverse, ca. 1929.

Fig. 34 shows a Hinsdale 7/8x15/16 No. 5 open-end wrench, with forged raised letters for the name and logo. The reverse is marked "Chrome-Vanadium-Steel", also in raised letters.

The overall length is 8.5 inches.


Other Early Tools


L-10 Slip-Joint Pliers

[Hinsdale No. L-10 Slip-Joint Pliers]
Fig. 35. Hinsdale No. L-10 Slip-Joint Pliers, with Insets for Handle Pattern and Nose Detail.

Fig. 35 shows a pair of Hinsdale slip-joint pliers, with a model number that appears to be "No. L-10", though the marking is unclear. The pliers are marked "Chicago, U.S.A." with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 6.4 inches.

The pliers are constructed of stamped steel, as can be seen from the shear marks visible on the edges. The stamped parts were hardened after pressing, providing a serviceable pair of pliers that probably sold very inexpensively. The finish is plain steel.


F-5 11/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench

[Hinsdale F-5 11/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench]
Fig. 36. Hinsdale F-5 11/16 Ratcheting Box Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. Mid 1920s.

Fig. 36 shows a Hinsdale F-5 11/16 ratcheting box wrench intended for Model T brake and reverse band adjustment. The wrench is stamped "Made in U.S.A." and "Hinsdale" with the Round-H-Circle logo embedded, and with a "Pat. Pend." notation below.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with losses due to wear and rust.

The pending status refers to patent #1,650,085, filed by J.W. McDonough in 1924 and issued in 1927. This ratchet wrench has the same design as the model S-15 ratchet in the No. 12B-R Socket Set and the Hinsdale H-1 Ratchet, both shown in previous figures.

The Hinsdale F-5 ratchet wrench is illustrated on page 217 of the 1924 Beckley-Ralston catalog, where it is noted for adjusting Ford (Model T) brake and reverse bands. Interestingly, the illustration includes the patent date "PATD 8-15-22", a reference to patent #1,425,816, issued to V. Van Horn on that date. (This patent date is incorrectly listed as 8-11-22 in AWM2e.) The present tool uses a similar but later patent assigned to Hinsdale Manufacturing.


Other Tools

One other early Hinsdale tool deserves mention, although currently it's known only from catalog listings; no examples have been found yet.

The tool is a single-ended flex-socket wrench intended for connecting rod bolts, and is shown on page 219 of the 1924 Beckley-Ralston catalog. No model number is given, but the illustration shows a "Pat. Pend." notation with the Hinsdale Fat-H-Circle logo. The corresponding patent has been identified as #1,597,939, issued to F. Wermes in 1926. This tool appears to be significant as the possibly the earliest example of a flex-socket wrench, a form that was later offered by a number of companies including Snap-On, Herbrand, Cornwell, and others.


Later Production

1/2-Drive Sockets and Tools

H6R 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[Hinsdale 1/2-Drive H6R Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 37. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive H6R Flex-Head Handle, with Inset for Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 37 shows a 1/2-drive Hinsdale H6R flex-head handle, marked "Hinsdale" with the Fat-H-Circle logo. The overall length is 17.6 inches.

The handle is knurled and has a cross-bar hole, but no end broaching. The finish is cadmium plating, which suggests a likely manufacturing date during the wartime years.


H-12-R 1/2-Drive Ratchet

[Hinsdale H-12-R Ratchet]
Fig. 38. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive H-12-R Ratchet with Inset, ca. 1946-1949.

Fig. 38 shows a Hinsdale 1/2-drive reversible ratchet with model number H-12-R. This example matches the dimensions for the ratchet illustrated in their 1947 catalog, which notes that the reversible ratchet is a new model and so likely dates from that time. (The Hinsdale catalog is unusual in that it gives engineering drawings of the tools with dimensions.) The overall length is 10.5 inches.

One feature to note is the use of the pressed flange construction to allow assembly without screws or rivets; this construction method was patented by Duro Metal Products in the early 1930s. The head of this ratchet appears to be nearly identical to some Duro-Chrome ratchets, suggesting that Hinsdale may have licensed the method or purchased the tooling from Duro.


SR30 1/2-Drive 15/16 Socket

[Hinsdale SR30 Socket]
Fig. 39. Hinsdale 1/2-Drive SR30 15/16 12-Point Socket.

Fig. 39 shows a 1/2-drive SR30 15/16 12-point socket, which is listed in the 1947 catalog as part of their standard 1/2-drive socket line. The catalog also notes that Hinsdale had in-house capability for hot-broaching sockets at this time.


3/8-Drive Sockets and Tools

Hinsdale 3/8-drive tools are relatively uncommon, but we do have several examples to display.


3/8-Drive Double-Hex Socket Set

[Hinsdale 3/8-Drive Double-Hex Socket Set]
Fig. 40. Hinsdale 3/8-Drive Double-Hex Socket Set, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 40 shows a Hinsdale 3/8-drive socket set in its metal case, consisting of a flex handle and seven double-hex sockets from 7/16 to 7/8. The set is presumed to have had eight sockets originally, but was missing the 1/2 size when acquired. Also missing is the small cross-bar for the flex handle.

The set is marked with a decal on the inside of the lid, with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo in large type at the top, followed by "Tools of Quality" and "Chicago, Ill. U.S.A" at the bottom. None of the tools are marked with the Hinsdale name.

The socket sizes are, from the left, 7/16, 1/2 (missing), 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, and 7/8. The sockets have tapered walls with a thin band of cross-hatched knurling at the base, and are marked only with the fractional size.

Currently we don't have an exact reference for this set in the Hinsdale catalogs, but a Hinsdale advertising brochure from 1933 shows a similar but smaller No. 10AC set. The 10AC set is described as an "Aviation Type Socket Wrench Set" and consists of six double-hex sockets with an Ell handle. (The drive size is not specified, but would be 3/8-drive based on the proportions of the tools.) The illustration shows the sockets with tapered walls and a knurled band around the base, closely resembling the sockets in the present set.

Another likely catalog reference comes from the 1933 Sears Spring and Summer catalog, which offered a "Hinsdale 9-Piece Set" under catalog number 5872, with a description and illustration matching this set after allowing for the missing pieces. In the 1934 catalog a set with the same description and catalog number was offered as "Craftsman 9-Pc. Wrench Set", and an example can be seen as the Craftsman Vanadium 5872 "9-Piece" Socket Set.


3/8-Drive Flex-Head Handle from Double-Hex Socket Set

[Hinsdale 3/8-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 41. Hinsdale 3/8-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Inset for Side View, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 41 shows the unmarked 3/8-drive flex-head handle from the Hinsdale double-hex socket set.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


3/8-Drive Sockets from Double-Hex Socket Set

[Hinsdale 3/8-Drive Double-Hex Sockets]
Fig. 42. Hinsdale 3/8-Drive Double-Hex Sockets, with Inset for Broaching, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 42 shows the three largest sockets from the Hinsdale 3/8-drive double-hex socket set, each stamped with the fractional size. The sizes are, from the left, 11/16, 3/4, and 7/8.

The finish is chrome plating.

The sockets are designed with tapered upper walls and a narrow band of cross-hatched knurling around the base.


3/8-Drive Straight-Wall 13/16 Double-Hex Socket

Hinsdale's tapered-wall sockets were superseded by a straight-wall design, as the next figure illustrates.

[Hinsdale 3/8-Drive Straight-Wall 13/16 Double-Hex Socket]
Fig. 43. Hinsdale 3/8-Drive Straight-Wall 13/16 Double-Hex Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. Mid 1930s.

Fig. 43 shows a 3/8-drive Hinsdale 13/16 double-hex socket with straight walls, marked with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

The inset shows the interior of the socket. The construction is cold-broached with a recess below the broached area, and the walls have chatter marks from the broaching.

This socket is very similar in design and construction to the Craftsman Vanadium 3/8-Drive 13/16 Socket shown in our article on early Craftsman tools.


9/32-Drive Sockets and Tools

Hinsdale was one of a small number of companies that produced 9/32-drive sockets and tools, in addition to the more popular 3/8- and 1/2-drive (and larger) sizes. (Other companies in this group included Armstrong, Plomb, Snap-On, and Williams.)


H5M 9/32-Drive Flex-Head Handle and SM10 Socket

[Hinsdale H5M 9/32-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 44. Hinsdale 9/32-Drive H5M Flex-Head Handle and SM10 5/16 Socket.

Fig. 44 shows an example, a 9/32 drive flex-head handle. No model number is marked, but the 1947 catalog lists this tool as an H5M "Hinged Tee Handle".

The overall length is 5.7 inches.

The photograph also shows a 9/32-drive SM10 5/16 12-point socket.


11M 9/32-Drive Socket Set

[Hinsdale 11M 9/32-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 45. Hinsdale 11M 9/32-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1935 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 45 shows a Hinsdale 11M 9/32-drive socket set, consisting of a combination handle and extension, a sliding Tee handle, seven double-hex sockets, and two double-square sockets. The metal box features a raised shelf with holes specifically sized to hold the sockets in place, plus small tabs to organize the drive tools.

The handle/extension is marked with the Hinsdale logo and "Chrome Vanadium", but without a model number; however, the 1935 catalog identifies this tool as a model HXM5. The sliding Tee handle is marked "Chrome Vanadium" with the Fat-H-Circle logo, and is catalog model H7M.

The double-hex sockets range in size from 7/32 to 7/16, and the double-square sockets have sizes 1/4 and 5/16. Each of the sockets are marked with "Hinsdale Vanadium" and the Fat-H-Circle logo.

[Top Cover of Hinsdale 11M 9/32-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 46. Top Cover of Hinsdale 11M Socket Set with Logo and Model, ca. 1935 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 46 shows the exterior of the 11M set, with the embossed cover showing the Hinsdale logo and "Tools of Quality". (At least one other tool company, Indestro Mfg., also used the phrase "Tools of Quality" in its catalogs and advertising.)

The dimensions of the box are 7.9 inches long by 1.8 inches deep by 1.0 inches high.

The 1935 Hinsdale catalog offered an 11M socket set with the description and illustration matching this set, and the text notes the use of chrome vanadium steel and a chrome plated finish. (Interestingly though, the description didn't mention the 9/32 drive size.) The price was $4.95 list.

By 1947 the Hinsdale catalog still offered a model 11M socket set, but with a different sized box, 6.1 inches vs. the present 7.9 inches. Thus the likely manufacturing date for this set would range from 1935 to the early 1940s.


Later Open-End Wrenches

In later years Hinsdale offered open-end wrenches in several different styles, as the following figures illustrate.


"Vanadium" 1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench

[Hinsdale Vanadium 1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 47. Hinsdale "Vanadium" 1729 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 47 shows a Hinsdale "Vanadium" 1729 5/8x3/4 open-end wrench with depressed panels, marked with "Hinsdale" and the embedded Round-H-Circle logo plus "Vanadium" forged into the front panel, with "Forged in U.S.A." forged into the reverse panel. The faces are stamped with the fractional sizes on the front, with the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.6 inches.

The Hinsdale rounded-"H" logo is somewhat different than the typical form, as there are actually two circles around the center "H". The construction of this wrench also differs from the earlier open-end wrenches, with depressed panels on the shank and very sharp forged-in markings.

The manufacturing date for this wrench is somewhat uncertain, but probably dates from the early to mid 1930s. The 1931 Sears catalog offered a set of Hinsdale Vanadium open-end wrenches, and this may be an example. This style of wrench was still listed in the 1935 Hinsdale catalog, although the "Chrome Vanadium" line of open-end wrenches (see next figures) was also available at that time.


"Vanadium" 1031 25/32x7/8 Open-End Wrench

[Hinsdale Vanadium 1031 25/32x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 48. Hinsdale "Vanadium" 1031 25/32x7/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 48 shows a Hinsdale "Vanadium" 1031 25/32x7/8 open-end wrench with depressed panels, marked with "Hinsdale" and the embedded Round-H-Circle logo plus "Vanadium" forged into the front panel, with "Forged in U.S.A." forged into the reverse panel. The faces are stamped with the fractional sizes on the front, with the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with losses due to wear.

The Hinsdale rounded-"H" logo is somewhat different than the typical form, as there are actually two circles around the center "H". The construction of this wrench also differs from the earlier open-end wrenches, with depressed panels on the shank and very sharp forged-in markings.


"Vanadium" 1033C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench

[Hinsdale Vanadium 1033C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 49. Hinsdale "Vanadium" 1033C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 49 shows a Hinsdale "Vanadium" 1033C 15/16x1 open-end wrench with depressed panels, marked with "Hinsdale" and the embedded Round-H-Circle logo plus "Vanadium" forged into the front panel, with "Forged in U.S.A." forged into the reverse panel. The faces are stamped with the fractional sizes on the front, with the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.0 inches. The finish is plain steel, with traces of the original plated finish.

The Hinsdale rounded-"H" logo is somewhat different than the typical form, as there are actually two circles around the center "H". The construction of this wrench also differs from the earlier open-end wrenches, with depressed panels on the shank and very sharp forged-in markings.


1723 "Chrome Vanadium" 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench

[Hinsdale 1723 Chrome Vanadium 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 50. Hinsdale 1723 "Chrome Vanadium" 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 50 shows a Hinsdale 1723 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench, stamped "Chrome Vanadium" with the Hinsdale name and embedded Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 4.9 inches. The finish is nickel plating, though now worn off in some areas.


"Chrome Vanadium" 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench

[Hinsdale Chrome Vanadium 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 51. Hinsdale "Chrome Vanadium" 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, ca. Mid 1930s to 1940s.

Fig. 51 shows a Hinsdale 5/8x3/4 open-end wrench, stamped "Chrome Vanadium" with the Hinsdale name and embedded Round-H-Circle logo.

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

This is a rather roughly finished wrench, possibly intended for a vehicle tool kit.


"Chrome Vanadium" 7/8x1 Open-End Wrench

[Hinsdale Chrome Vanadium 7/8x1 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 52. Hinsdale "Chrome Vanadium" 7/8x1 Open-End Wrench, ca. Mid 1930s to 1940s.

Fig. 52 shows a Hinsdale 7/8x1 open-end wrench, stamped "Chrome Vanadium" with the Hinsdale name and embedded Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with losses due to wear.


"Chrome Vanadium" 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench

[Hinsdale Chrome Vanadium 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 53. Hinsdale "Chrome Vanadium" 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench, ca. Mid 1930s to 1940s.

Fig. 53 shows a Hinsdale 15/16x1 open-end wrench, stamped "Chrome Vanadium" with the Hinsdale name and embedded Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 9.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


T14-17 7/16x17/32 Chrome Vanadium Tappet Wrench

[Hinsdale T14-17 7/16x17/32 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 54. Hinsdale T14-17 7/16x17/32 Tappet Wrench, ca. Late 1930s to 1940s.

Fig. 54 shows a Hinsdale T14-17 7/16x17/32 tappet wrench with markings forged into a depressed panel. The shank is marked with "Chrome Vanadium" at the top, followed by the model and Hinsdale name with the Round-H-Circle logo embedded, and with "Made in U.S.A." at the bottom.

The overall length is 7.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel with pitting due to rust.


Box-End Wrenches

Box-end wrenches in the HD-series were listed in a 1933 Hinsdale advertising brochure, with six models being offered at exceptionally low prices. The models available were the HD1 (3/8x7/16), HD2 (1/2x9/16), HD3 (5/8x11/16), HD4 (3/4x25/32), HD5 (13/16x7/8), and HD6 (15/16x1). The brochure description noted that the wrenches were made of chrome vanadium steel and finished in chrome plating.

The HD-series wrenches are significant in that matching examples have been found marked with the Sears Craftsman brand, indicating that Hinsdale was an early supplier of box wrenches to Sears. An example can be seen later in this article as the Craftsman HD5 Box Wrench, and an additional example may be seen as the Craftsman HD4 Offset Box Wrench.

By 1935 Hinsdale was offering straight box wrenches in six models from X1 (3/8x7/16) to X6 (15/16x1), plus three models of short offset box wrenches from X10 (3/8x7/16) to X30 (5/8x11/16). The X1-X6 series have been found marked for the Sears Craftsman line, and it's possible that the short wrenches were also supplied to Craftsman.

The 1935 catalog notes that the box wrenches were hot forged from SAE 6140 chrome vanadium steel, then electrically heat-treated. The standard finish was chrome plating with satin handles and polished heads.

In later years Hinsdale updated the model numbers for the HD series to include both sizes encoded in 32nds, a fairly standard practice in the tool industry. By 1947 the box wrenches were available in a very wide range of sizes, ranging from the 5/16x3/8 model HD10-12 up to the huge 2-9/16x2-3/4 model HD82-88.


HD2 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale HD2 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 55. Hinsdale HD2 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 55 shows a Hinsdale HD2 1/2x9/16 offset box-end wrench, marked with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo, with "Chrome Vanadium Steel" on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.

The model HD2 wrench was offered in early 1933 at a dealer price of just $0.21, for a retail price of $0.40, prices comparable to the aggressive pricing being offered by Western Auto and Plomb Tool around that time.


HD3 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale HD3 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 56. Hinsdale HD3 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 56 shows a Hinsdale HD3 5/8x11/16 offset box-end wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo, with "Made in U.S.A." and "Chrome Vanadium" on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.


HD4 3/4x25/26 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale HD4 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 57. Hinsdale HD4 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 57 shows a Hinsdale HD4 3/4x25/32 offset box-end wrench, marked with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo, with "Chrome Vanadium Steel" on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.


HD6 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale HD6 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 58. Hinsdale HD6 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 58 shows a Hinsdale HD6 15/16x1 offset box-end wrench, stamped "Chrome Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank, with the Hinsdale name and embedded Round-H-Circle logo on the reverse.

The overall length is 12.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.


HD18-20 9/16x5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench

The next several figures show examples of the later HD series offset box wrenches.

[Hinsdale HD18-20 9/16x5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 59. Hinsdale HD18-20 9/16x5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 59 shows a Hinsdale HD18-20 9/16x5/8 offset box-end wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 9.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


[HD20-22] 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale HD20-22 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 60. Hinsdale [HD20-22] 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 60 shows another later example, a Hinsdale [HD20-22] 5/8x11/16 offset box-end wrench. The shank is stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo, but without a model number marking.

The overall length is 9.5 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The cadmium finish and missing model number suggest production during the wartime years.


HD24-25 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale HD24-25 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 61. Hinsdale HD24-25 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 61 shows a Hinsdale HD24-25 3/4x25/32 offset box-end wrench, marked with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 10.8 inches. The finish is plain steel with light pitting due to rust, but the original finish may have been chrome plating.


HD26-28 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale HD26-28 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 62. Hinsdale HD26-28 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 62 shows another later example, a Hinsdale HD26-28 13/16x7/8 offset box-end wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

The overall length is 11.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.

X3 5/8x11/16 Angled Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale X3 5/8x11/16 Angled Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 63. Hinsdale X3 5/8x11/16 Angled Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Mid 1930s.

Fig. 63 shows a Hinsdale X3 5/8x11/16 angled box wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo on one side, with "Chrome Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." plus the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.8 inches. The finish is plain steel with traces of plating.

The X3 wrench was offered in a 1935 catalog at an $0.80 list price, or $5.65 for the set of six straight box wrenches.

X4 3/4x25/32 Angled Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale X4 3/4x25/32 Angled Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 64. Hinsdale X4 3/4x25/32 Angled Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 64 shows a Hinsdale X4 3/4x25/32 angled box wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo on one side, with "Chrome Vanadium Steel" and the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.2 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.

This wrench has a distinctive design, with the oval shank held at nearly constant width right up to the angled box ends. This design feature has enabled us to identify a similar Craftsman wrench as Hinsdale production, which can be seen as the Craftsman X1 Box Wrench.

X6 15/16x1 Angled Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale X6 15/16x1 Angled Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 65. Hinsdale X6 15/16x1 Angled Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 65 shows another example of the X-series box wrenches, a Hinsdale X6 15/16x1 angled box wrench. The shank is stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo on one side, with "Chrome Vanadium Steel" and the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 14.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.


X20 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale X20 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 66. Hinsdale X20 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Mid 1930s.

Fig. 66 shows a Hinsdale X20 1/2x9/16 short offset box-end wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo, with "Chrome Vanadium Steel" and the model number on the reverse. (The lower inset has been rotated for readability.)

The overall length is 5.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel with traces of plating.

The X20 wrench was offered in a 1935 catalog at a list price of just $0.75, or $2.25 for the set of three short offset box wrenches.


5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[Hinsdale 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 67. Hinsdale 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 67 shows a later Hinsdale 5/8x11/16 short offset box-end wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and Round-H-Circle logo.

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


Combination Wrenches


BE-Series Combination Wrenches

[Hinsdale Combination Wrenches BE-12 to BE-24]
Fig. 68. Hinsdale Combination Wrenches (See Text).

Fig. 68 shows a set of five combination wrenches, all marked with the Hinsdale name and the Fat-H-Circle logo. The model numbers and sizes are, from the bottom, BE-24 (3/4), BE-22 (11/16), BE-20 (5/8), BE-16 (1/2), and BE-12 (3/8). The overall length of the BE-24 3/4 wrench is 8 inches.

The finish appears to be a cadmium plate, making it likely that these were made during 1943-1945. These wrench models are listed in the 1947 catalog.


BE24W 3/8 (Whitworth) Combination Wrench

Hinsdale also made tools in Whitworth sizes, required for working on various models of British automobiles and airplanes.

[Hinsdale BE24W 3/8 (Whitworth) Combination Wrench]
Fig. 68B. Hinsdale BE24W 3/8 (Whitworth) Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 68B shows a Hinsdale BE24W 3/8 (Whitworth) combination wrench, stamped with the Hinsdale name and the Round-H-Circle logo on the shank, with "Chrome Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with pitting due to rust.

The actual opening size was measured at 0.73 inches.


Flare-Nut Wrenches

Hinsdale offered flare-nut wrenches only in an offset-handle design illustrated in the next figure. The 1947 catalog offered these wrenches in a wide selection of sizes, ranging from the 5/16 BR10 to the huge 2-3/4 BR88.

BR34 Flare-Nut Wrench

[Hinsdale BR34 Offset Flare-Nut Wrench]
Fig. 69. Hinsdale BR34 1-1/16 Offset Flare-Nut Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 69 shows a Hinsdale BR34 1-1/16 flare-nut wrench, stamped "Chrome Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.0 inches. This particular wrench is chrome-plated, but these wrenches are more commonly found with a plain or industrial finish.


The Craftsman Connection

Hinsdale is sometimes mistakenly identified as the maker of the Craftsman "BE" and H-Circle line of tools, perhaps due to similarities between the Hinsdale and Craftsman H-Circle logos. The actual manufacturer of that line was the New Britain Machine Company, and an in-depth look at those tools can be found on our article on Craftsman "BE" and H-Circle Tools.

However, apart from the "BE" and H-Circle tools, there is good evidence that Hinsdale supplied at least some tools to Craftsman, in particular box-end wrenches. We'll see some examples of these in the sections below.

In addition to producing tools for the Craftsman line, Hinsdale also supplied tools to Sears to be sold under the Hinsdale name. A 1931 Sears Spring and Summer catalog listed several Hinsdale tools by name; for example, a 46-piece alloy steel socket set in a hip-roof box was offered for $5.85. Another smaller set included 17 cadmium-plated sockets and a T-L handle in a sliding box, all for just 98 cents. Also available were socket sets of the Bobcat (or Bob-Cat) brand, which has been identified recently as a Hinsdale brand for alloy-steel tools. In 1931 the Craftsman brand had not yet been extended to socket sets, and several other brands of socket sets were offered, including Merit and Durobilt.

The 1931 Sears catalog did offer Craftsman "Vanadium" open-end wrenches and several models of Craftsman pliers, along with competing models from Fulton, Merit, and Pexto. A five piece set of Hinsdale Vanadium open-end wrenches was offered for somewhat less than the Craftsman Vanadium wrench set.


Craftsman HD5 and Hinsdale HD6 Box-End Wrenches

[Hinsdale HD6 and Craftsman HD5 Box-End Wrenches]
Fig. 70. Hinsdale HD6 15/16x1 and Craftsman HD5 13/16x7/8 Box-End Wrenches, with Insets, ca. 1932-1934.

Fig. 70 shows two round shank box-end wrenches, a Hinsdale HD6 15/16x1 model on the bottom and a Craftsman HD5 13/16x7/8 model at the top.

The pairs of insets show the reverse-side markings on the left and a close-up of the front markings on the right. Although the wrenches are of different sizes, the similarities of the "HD Chrome Vanadium Steel" mark clearly show a common source for the wrenches.

To estimate the date of manufacture for these tools, we can note that both wrenches have a plain (unplated) finish, and that the Craftsman model has the original (non-underlined) logo registered in 1927. Both of these observations would be consistent with a manufacturing date in the late 1920s to early 1930s range. However, no Craftsman box-end wrenches were found in a 1931 Sears catalog, so the likely manufacturing date can be narrowed to 1932-1934.

After the above estimates were made, a Hinsdale advertising brochure was acquired which confirmed that the HD-series wrenches were available in early 1933.

Additional examples of the Hinsdale early HD-series wrenches can be seen as the Hinsdale HD2 Wrench, Hinsdale HD3 Wrench, and Hinsdale HD4 Wrench.


Craftsman Vanadium 9/32-Drive Socket Set

[Craftsman Vanadium 9/32-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 71. Craftsman Vanadium 9/32-Drive Socket Set.

Fig. 71 shows another Craftsman connection, a 9/32-drive socket set in a metal box. The tools in the set are marked "Craftsman Vanadium" (with the exception of the unmarked breaker bar), and the sockets in particular very closely resemble the Hinsdale 11M Socket Set shown above.

As with the 11M set, the box for these tools has a raised shelf with holes sized to hold the sockets and tabs to restrain the drive tools. The overall length of the box is 6.2 inches, shorter than the 11M example above, but nearly the same as the 11M set listed in the 1947 Hinsdale catalog. (This set substitutes a plain extension for the handle extension of the 11M set, and therefore can fit in a smaller box.)

Another clue to the maker here is that the Hinsdale 9/32 sockets have unusually thin walls, so that 9/32-drive sockets from other makers (e.g. Plomb or Snap-On) do not fit properly in the recess holes of the box. The Craftsman and Hinsdale sockets fit interchangeably though, providing further evidence of the Hinsdale maker.

References and Resources

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

Hinsdale is mentioned briefly in American Wrench Makers 1830-1930, 2nd Edition by Kenneth Cope (Astragal Press, 2002) (AWM2e in the text), which reprints an early advertisement stating the 1919 founding date. (Note though that one of the patent dates mentioned there is incorrect.)

A web page maintained by Berland's Tools has a brief historical note on Hinsdale.


Catalog Coverage

Product information was obtained from several Hinsdale publications, as summarized in the table below.

Catalog Format Title Date Notes
CS-2 Flyer Hinsdale Tools of Quality Late 1920s? Single page printed on both sides, no date given.
Lists DR-2 rim wrench, 22-D drain plug set, G-10 "Speeder" set,
plus hex drive sets 10B, 10B-R, 12B-R and 12B-R "Special".
N/A Brochure Hinsdale Tools of Quality 1933 Foldout brochure, "Prices Guaranteed Until February 28 1933".
Lists offset box wrenches HD1-HD6.
N/A Booklet Hinsdale Tools of Quality 1935 16 pages. Includes 9/32-drive socket tools. Specifies S.A.E. 6140 steel.
Lists straight box wrenches X1-X6 and short offset box wrenches X10-X30.
No. 101 Full-size Hinsdale Tools of Quality Late 1930s? 32 pages. Lists Phillips screwdrivers. Box wrenches in HDxx-yy series.
Lists Whitworth sockets and wrenches.
N/A Loose-leaf Hinsdale Tools of Quality Since 1919 1946 34 pages. 9/32-drive still available. Lists Whitworth sockets and wrenches.

Industrial Distributors

Hinsdale tools were offered by a number of automotive suppliers and retail chains, and some of the catalogs from these companies include information on Hinsdale products.

  • Beckley-Ralston No. 91. The 1924 catalog No. 91 from Beckley-Ralston, a distributor of automotive tools and supplies, shows several tools with the Hinsdale logo, and may have sourced other private-branded tools from Hinsdale.

  • Western Auto Supply 1924. The 1924 "Ford Owner's Supply Book" from Western Auto Supply, a major retailer, illustrates an early Hinsdale socket set and shows specialty tools with the Hinsdale logo.

  • Sears Roebuck 1929. A 1929 Sears Roebuck catalog shows several socket sets recognizable as Hinsdale, and the 1931 Sears catalog shows several Hinsdale products by name.

  • Channon Catalog No. 102. The 1936 catalog No. 102 from the H. Channon Company, a major industrial distributor, lists five pages of Hinsdale tools. Included in the listings are the No. 11M and No. 17M 9/32-drive socket sets, the No. 13J and No. 18J 3/8-drive socket sets, and the No. 13R and No. 29R 1/2-drive socket sets. The descriptions mention the use of S.A.E. 6140 chrome-vanadium steel with a triple chrome plated finish.

    Also listed are offset box wrenches from model HD1 (3/8x7/16) up to HD13 (2-9/16x2-3/4). Other wrenches include the BE-series combination wrenches, open-end, tappet, and structural wrenches.


Advertisements

In the late 1920s Hinsdale placed advertisements in magazines such as Popular Science Monthly.

  • An advertisement in the May 1929 issue of Popular Science Monthly shows a 36 Piece Chrome Nickel Master Socket Wrench Set on page 141 at the left. The set included a ratchet, T-L handle, speeders, and a selection of sockets, and the description specifically mentions the use of S.A.E. 3130 alloy steel. The price was just $7.95 plus shipping.

  • An ad in the April 1931 issue of Popular Science Monthly offers an Alloy Chisel Set made of "Bob Cat Special Alloy Steel". This is one of several examples of Hinsdale advertisements that mention Bob Cat tools, with a logo composed of a growling cat's head between the words "Bob" and "Cat". The Bob Cat brand had been noted in some Sears Roebuck catalogs, but had not been previously recognized as a Hinsdale product.


Patents and Trademarks

Information on Hinsdale patents was obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) uspto.gov web site. Patent documents were obtained from web sites offering free downloads, notably freepatentsonline.com.

No trademark information for Hinsdale has been found in the USPTO trademarks database, in spite of statements in Hinsdale literature that the name was a registered trademark.


Feedback

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