Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vanished Tool Makes: Rosco

Below, a screwdriver from the old toolbox my dad kept at his cottage:


It was marked "Rosco" on the handle.  Unfortunately, it was also covered with gray paint, which I stripped off, along with the name.  Turns out that methylene chloride is not kind to acetate.  Who knew?

Screwdrivers under this name were initially made by the Rosenberg Bros. & Co. out of Smithtown, Long Island:

Popular Mechanics, October 1953

Life, April 1954

If they really did sell one screwdriver every six seconds, they sold a lot of screwdrivers.  (Do the math--over 5 million a year!)  They also tried to keep innovating (although ratcheting screwdrivers weren't really anything new):

Popular Mechanics, July 1963
We can see, with the benefit of hindsight, that the pistol-grip handle did not catch on.

One claim to fame was that, in May 1967, the company's regional sales manager appeared on the CBS TV show, "What's My Line?"  Her line was "sells screwdrivers."  The show was cancelled the same year.  Coincidence?

The company was bought by Vermont American in 1974, which continued to offer screwdrivers under the Rosco name, as the 1983 newspaper ad below attests:

Note that, under VA's ownership, they're now referred to as "the professional's screwdriver" compared to their original motto of "America's Greatest Screwdriver Value."  Anyway, the name has now disappeared, which really doesn't matter given VA's race for ownership of the bottom of the tool quality market.

3 comments:

Barry C said...

Still have my giant "Two Hand" Rosco screwdriver -- the last remaining piece from a set I purchased just our of high school in 1980. The shank looks as if it's pot metal -- but after 33 years of hard work, it still looks essentially the same as when I bought it when I was 18.

Incidentally, I purchased mine at the Tool Shack, a dump of a place in the San Fernando Valley (CA).

It was fun to find this article and see the Rosco name -- as well as the old ad.

Anonymous said...

I worked there in the early 80's. It was already Vermont American by then. We made screwdrivers for everybody including Stanley and Craftsman. There's a hardware store there now with the Rosco Tools name, started in 2010, according to the web.
I made my own screwdrivers from reject handles and blades and I still have some. They're indestructible.

Keith said...

I was an QC Inspector there in the 80's on the 3rd shift. does any one know when they actually closed their doors.
also does any one know the VA phone # so i can find out about 401K and pen.