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Smith & Hemenway Company


Table of Contents

Introduction


Company History

The Smith & Hemenway Company (S&H) was founded in 1898 by Landon P. Smith and John Francis Hemenway. The company operated as a manufacturer and importer of hardware items, with offices in New York City and a factory in Irvington, New Jersey. One of the company founders, Landon P. Smith, was a notable inventor with a number of patents for pliers and glass-repair tools.

From its early years Smith & Hemenway had a close association with the Irvington Manufacturing Company, a maker of pliers, tools, and other hardware items located in Irvington, New Jersey. One of the founders of S&H, John F. Hemenway, held positions of secretary, treasurer, and director with both S&H and Irvington Manufacturing. Based on this association, it's likely that Irvington Manufacturing was a major supplier and manufacturing partner for S&H from the beginning. At some later the two companies apparently merged, although we haven't found the exact date. However, a 1916 notice in a trade publication noted that S&H was moving its executive offices to 130 Coit Street in Irvington "where their factory is located".

[1917 Notice for Red Devil Pliers]
1917 Notice for Red Devil Pliers. [External Link].

Tools from Smith & Hemenway were frequently marked with the "Red Devil" trademark, either with or without the company name or "S. & H." initials. The notice at the left was published on page 41 of the October 15, 1917 issue of The Horseless Age and describes the features of Red Devil combination pliers. The text notes the company address as 130 Coit Street in Irvington, New Jersey.

By 1926 Smith & Hemenway had been acquired by the Crescent Tool Company of Jamestown, New York. Production of the S & H line continued under Crescent for a number of years, and the S & H tools were listed in the Crescent catalogs, beginning with catalog No. 17 in late 1926.


Patents

Table 1. Smith & Hemenway Company: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedDescriptionExamples
1,079,906 M. Sidon02/10/191311/25/1913Drill  
1,129,374 F.R. Woodward08/21/191202/23/1915Glass Cutter  

Trademarks


Manufacturing Dates


Pliers and Nippers


Smith & Hemenway "Sure Grip" 8 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers

[Smith & Hemenway Sure Grip 8 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers]
Fig. 1. Smith & Hemenway "Sure Grip" 8 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1901-1910.

Fig. 1 shows an early pair of Smith & Hemenway "Sure Grip" 8 inch Button's pattern pliers, marked "S.H. Co." and "Sure Grip" on one side, with a "Pat'd Feb. 5, 01" patent notice on the reverse.

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

The patent date corresponds to patent #667,411, issued to S.S. Vaughan et al in 1901, with assignment to Vaughan & Bushnell Manufacturing. The patent describes a limit mechanism to bring the wire-cutting slots into alignment, as a convenience for one-handed operation.


Red Devil 999 8 Inch Universal Button's Pliers

[Red Devil 999 8 Inch Universal Button's Pliers]
Fig. 2. Red Devil 999 8 Inch Universal Button's Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Construction Detail, ca. 1910 to 1920s.

Fig. 2 shows a pair of Red Devil 999 8 inch "universal" Button's pliers, stamped with "Red Devil" and "S&H Co. U.S.A." near the pivot.

The overall length is 8.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with pitting due to rust.

The middle left inset shows a close-up of the jaws. Note that the center cutting slot is nearly at a right angle to the face of the pliers, a construction detail also noted in Kraeuter's Button Pattern pliers. Most other makers place the center slot at an angle, including the original J.M. King Button pliers.

The jaws of these pliers provide gripping areas for flat, square, and rounded objects.


Red Devil [1000-8] 8 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers

[Red Devil 1000 8 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers]
Fig. 3. Red Devil [1000-8] 8 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers, with Insets for Side View, Construction, and Marking Detail, ca. 1905-1915.

Fig. 3 shows an early pair of Red Devil [1000-8] 8 inch Button's Pattern pliers, stamped "S&H Co." and "N.Y. U.S.A." around the pivot, with "Red Devil" and "Trade Mark" across the center (see middle right inset).

The overall length is 8.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with pitting due to rust.

The middle left inset shows a close-up of the jaws. Note that the center cutting slot is at a right angle to the face of the pliers, a construction detail also noted in Kraeuter's Button Pattern pliers. Most other makers place the center slot at an angle, including the original J.M. King Button pliers.

Another detail to note is that the angled sides of the nose have been ground flat and terminate abruptly over the pivot area. This construction detail differs from the Kraeuter examples, which have the outer sides ground to a convex surface, with a smooth transition over the pivot area.

The "N.Y. U.S.A." marking provides an important clue to the production date. In their earlier years the company listed an address in New York City, but from around 1917 onward, Smith & Hemenway listed their address in Irvington, New Jersey. Thus these pliers are probably of earlier production.

The S. & H. button's pliers are generally similar to examples made by Kraeuter, but the flat sides to the nose provide a distinctive difference. An example of a similar Kraeuter model can be seen as the Kraeuter 1841-8 Pliers.


Red Devil 1000 10 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers

[Red Devil 1000 10 8 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers]
Fig. 4. Red Devil 1000 10 Inch Button's Pattern Pliers, with Insets for Side View, Construction, and Marking Detail.

Fig. 4 shows a pair of Red Devil 1000 10 inch Button's Pattern pliers, stamped "S&H Co." and "U.S.A." near the pivot.

The overall length is 9.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The middle left inset shows a close-up of the jaws. Note that the center cutting slot is at a right angle to the face of the pliers, a construction detail also noted in Kraeuter's Button Pattern pliers. Most other makers place the center slot at an angle, including the original J.M. King Button pliers.

Another detail to note is that the angled sides of the nose have been ground flat and terminate abruptly over the pivot area. This construction detail differs from the Kraeuter examples, which have the outer sides ground to a convex surface, with a smooth transition over the pivot area.

The S. & H. button's pliers are generally similar to examples made by Kraeuter, but the flat sides to the nose provide a distinctive difference. An example of a similar Kraeuter model can be seen as the Kraeuter 1841-10 Pliers.


Red Devil 1050 7 Inch Lineman's Pliers

[Red Devil 1050 7 Inch Lineman's Pliers]
Fig. 5. Red Devil 1050 7 Inch Lineman's Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 5 shows a pair of Red Devil 1050 7 inch lineman's pliers, stamped with the brand and model near the pivot.

The overall length is 7.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


1650-8 8 Inch Lineman's Pliers with Button's Cutting Slot

[S&H 1650-8 8 Inch Lineman's Pliers]
Fig. 6. S&H 1650-8 8 Inch Lineman's Pliers, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 6 shows a pair of S&H 1650-8 8 inch lineman's pliers with a Button's cutting slot, stamped with "S.&H. Co." and model number around the pivot.

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

These pliers are equipped with one Button's-style cutting slot on the side, a somewhat unusual feature for lineman's pliers.


Red Devil 1950-8 8 Inch Lineman's Pliers

[Red Devil 1950-8 8 Inch Lineman's Pliers]
Fig. 7. Red Devil 1950-8 8 Inch Lineman's Pliers, with Insets for Reverse and Side View.

Fig. 7 shows a pair of Red Devil 1950-8 8 inch lineman's pliers, stamped with the brand and model.

The overall length is 8.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Red Devil 925[-6-1/2] 6.5 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers

The next two figures show examples of the Red Devil 925 series of combination pliers. The 1914 S&H catalog offered the 925 pliers in sizes 6.5, 8, and 10 inches, at net prices of $2.75, $3.50, and 4.25, respectively -- per dozen!

[Red Devil 925-6-1/2 6.5 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers]
Fig. 8. Red Devil 925[-6-1/2] 6.5 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1912-1920.

Fig. 8 shows a pair of Red Devil 925[-6] 6 inch combination pliers, stamped with "Red Devil" and the model number near the pivot. The handles are marked with "U.S.A." on a shield in the dimpled gripping pattern, with "Forged Steel" forged into the undersides.

The overall length is 6.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with extensive losses due to wear and rust.

These are heavy, well-built pliers with numerous features to earn their rating as "combination pliers". The jaws include two gripping areas for round objects, plus a V-groove for holding small pins (see lower inset). There's also a slot for cutting wire, and the end of one handle is flattened for use as a screwdriver or light-duty prybar.

Readers familiar with Kraeuter & Company will recognize the similarity of the handle pattern and forged markings of these pliers with the early Kraeuter production. Kraeuter used a dimpled field with a diamond in the center instead of the shield, and the Kraeuter "Forged Steel" markings are nearly identical. An example of the equivalent Kraeuter model can be seen as the Kraeuter 356-6 Combination Pliers. Based on the close similarity, it's likely that Kraeuter made these pliers as contract production for S&H.


Red Devil 925-10 10 Inch Combination Pliers

[Red Devil 925-10 10 Inch Combination Pliers]
Fig. 9. Red Devil 925-10 10 Inch Combination Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1912-1920.

Fig. 9 shows a pair of Red Devil 925-10 10 inch combination pliers, marked "U.S.A." on the handle with "Forged Steel" on the underside.

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

These are heavy, well-built pliers with numerous features to earn their rating as "combination pliers". The jaws include two gripping areas for round objects, plus a V-groove for holding small pins (see lower inset). There's also a slot for cutting wire, and the end of one handle is flattened for use as a screwdriver or light-duty prybar.

Readers familiar with Kraeuter & Company will recognize the similarity of the handle pattern and forged markings of these pliers with the early Kraeuter production. Kraeuter used a dimpled field with a diamond in the center instead of the shield, and the Kraeuter "Forged Steel" markings are nearly identical. An example of a similar but smaller Kraeuter model can be seen as the Kraeuter 356-8 Combination Pliers. Based on the close similarity, it's likely that Kraeuter made these pliers as contract production for S&H.


Red Devil 444-7-1/2 "Giant Grip" Combination Pliers

[Red Devil 444-7-1/2 Giant Grip Combination Pliers]
Fig. 10. Red Devil 444-7-1/2 "Giant Grip" Combination Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 10 shows a pair of Red Devil 444-7-1/2 "Giant Grip" slip-joint combination pliers, marked "Red Devil" and "Giant Grip" near the pivot, with "Pat. Appld For" below.

The overall length is 7.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with extensive pitting due to rust.


Red Devil 1906 Fencing Pliers

[Red Devil 1906 Fencing Pliers]
Fig. 11. Red Devil 1906 Fencing Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Jaw Detail.

Fig. 11 shows a pair of Red Devil 1906 fencing pliers, marked "S.&H. Co. U.S.A." near the pivot.

The overall length is 10.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Other Tools


Smith & Hemenway No. 1971 Pressed-Steel Socket Set

Although Smith & Hemenway was not generally known as a maker of automotive service tools, this next figure shows that the company did offer socket sets at some point.

[Smith & Hemenway No. 1971 Pressed-Steel Socket Set]
Fig. 12. Smith & Hemenway No. 1971 Pressed-Steel Socket Set, ca. 1916 to Early 1920s.

Fig. 12 shows a Smith & Hemenway No. 1971 pressed-steel socket set in a wooden box, consisting of a ratchet, drive plug, a square socket, and five hex sockets.

The inside cover has the original printed label for the set, indicating that this was a "Ford Car Special Set", and giving the sizes of the sockets. In addition, a second tag identifies "L. Polstein Hardware" as the store where the set was purchased, and even shows the $2.25 sales price.

The set as acquired had a mix of socket sizes, with only two sockets matching the sizes specified on the label. Both of these sockets were marked with the Mossberg M-Diamond logo, suggesting that the set may have been supplied with Mossberg sockets. (Since the Frank Mossberg Company was the leading maker of pressed-steel socket sets, their sockets were inexpensive and widely available.)

The set as shown includes Mossberg sockets (plus one unmarked) with sizes, from the left, 15/32, 17/32, 21/32, 23/32, 25/32, and 19/32 (square).

Readers should keep in mind that pressed-steel sockets were specified 1/32 oversize, so that the sockets in this set were intended to fit nut sizes 7/16, 1/2, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, and 9/16 square. An explanation of this convention can be found in the section on Pressed-Steel Socket Sizes.

The ratchet in this set has a distinctive design, with a finely toothed drive gear mounted in a spring-loaded pivoting carrier. The ratchet design has allowed us to identify this set as being made by the Syracuse Wrench Company, which referred to this model as the "Ford Special Wrench Set". An example of this ratchet model from a Syracuse Wrench No. 2 "Champion" socket set can be seen as the Syracuse Wrench Fine-Tooth Ratchet. (See our article on the Syracuse Wrench Company for more information.)

In estimating the manufacturing date of this set, we can note that the Irvington address for S&H indicates a time in 1916 or later. In addition, Syracuse Wrench is known to have produced pressed-steel socket sets with this ratchet design from 1916 onward.


Smith & Hemenway 1/2-Drive Ratchet

[Smith & Hemenway 1/2-Drive Ratchet From No. 1971 Socket Set]
Fig. 13. Smith & Hemenway 1/2-Drive Ratchet From No. 1971 Socket Set, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1920.

Fig. 13 shows the 1/2-drive ratchet from the Smith & Hemenway No. 1971 set, unmarked except for a "775" code forged into the end of the shank.

The ratchet is constructed with a forged steel handle, and a sheet metal carrier holds the drive gear in contact with the pawl. In operation, the drive gear and carrier assembly pivots around an anchor pin, with a spring to provide tension. The drive gear is notable for the relatively fine teeth, a feature not often seen in early ratchets of this type.

This ratchet design has been identified as a product of the Syracuse Wrench Company, which used this ratchet model in a number of their own socket sets. An example of this ratchet model from a Syracuse Wrench No. 2 "Champion" socket set can be seen as the Syracuse Wrench Fine-Tooth Ratchet. The distinctive design suggests that it may have been described by a patent filing, although no patent notice is marked, and no patent has been found.


References and Resources

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


Catalog Coverage

Currently our only catalog for Smith & Hemenway is an illustrated price list from 1914.

Crescent Tool included the full S&H product line in their catalog No. 17, which was published in 1926 shortly after acquiring S&H.


Industrial Distributors

Smith & Hemenway tools were sold through various industrial distributors, and the catalogs of these companies provide descriptions and illustrations of the tools available at that time.


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Patent and Trademark Information

Patent information was obtained from the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) web site at uspto.gov. Patent documents were obtained from sites offering free downloads, notably freepatentsonline.com.


Feedback

If any readers have additional information about Smith & Hemenway, please let us know via the "Contact Us" link on the home page. Your comments and suggestions are welcome as well.


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