Saturday, January 20, 2018

Herbrand tools... was bought by Kelsey Hayes, the company that made good rims. Bonney history merged with them, as smaller tool companies couldn't compete with less expensive imported lower quality tools

The Herbrand Company was founded in 1881 in Fremont, Ohio by Jacob Herbrand, Charles Thompson, and J.B. Van Doren.

By 1909 Herbrand's products included carriage hardware, bicycle and automobile wrenches, and safety razors, and Thompson was the GM and President. Herbrand wasn't mentioned again, so, sadly, seems to have lost his company, or sold it or died... but, hey, his name is now known, and no one knows anyone else that ran the company after him.

As the automobile gained popularity in the early 20th century, Herbrand expanded production of drop-forged tools for automobile tool kits.

During the 1920s and early 1930s Herbrand expanded their line of tools and became 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 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 who had previously acquired Utica Tools in 1956, and Herbrand became part of their Utica Tools Division.

by 1964 they added Bonney Forge and Tool, and in 1967 sold out to Triangle, who was bought up by Cooper.

Bonney Vice and Tool Works was founded by Charles S. Bonney in Philadelphia in 1877, the company moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1906.

In the 1950's, it was acquired by Miller Manufacturing of Detroit,

Kelsey-Hayes was originally a manufacturer of automotive wheels and then brakes for a variety of American automakers and apparently, the diversification fever of the 60's, decided to get into the tool business.

Enter H. Arthur Bellows Jr. He founded the Triangle Corporation of Stamford, Connecticut in 1967.

The following year, Triangle acquired Torque Controls, a manufacturer of torque wrenches, moving production from South Elmonte, California to Utica's factory in Orangeburg, South Carolina in 1970.

At that point, the Utica firm was employing around 800 people, making about 200 models of pliers and over 1000 custom models, with an automotive tool line of over 1200 items. Under the brand name Utica/Bonney, the company was making around 50,000 tools per day.

In 1982, Triangle Tool went on to acquire the Diamond Tool and Horseshoe Company. Triangle merged with Audits/Surveys Worldwide, and the tool side was sold to the Cooper Tools Conglomerate in 1995.


  1. Jesse, I live in Fremont, Ohio, and I haven't heard of Herbrand tools. Fremont is known for a few cutlery/knife companies, like the one that made Ginsu knives back in the day. Kelsey-Hayes had a brake factory outside of town, so maybe that was the connection that got them to buy the tool company.

    1. thanks!

      They are certainly not the most common brand, but, I have some, and they are/were a damn fine tool making company. Very good quality, at least as good as Snap On, Craftsman, Proto. I can't swear to their extended line of stuff, but hand tools and sockets? Some of the best

    2. that reminds me, have you heard of Plumb? Another really old and very high quality tool company. However, I have no idea if they were distributed to the east. They were made in Los Angeles, and the name changed around 1946

  2. After reading this, I looked up Herbrand online. I ended up buying an adjustable wrench from Ebay to add to my small collection of antique tools.

    I've heard of Plumb tools, but I'm not that familiar with them.

    1. you might save money by buying at yard and garage sales.... but you won't regret these tools. They're good stuff!