Saturday, April 5, 2014

Vanished Tool Makers: The Herbrand Company, Fremont, Ohio

Herbrand tools very seldom show up in my neck of the woods, although I have found a few:

Alloy Artifacts is the best source of information about the history of this company, which was founded by Charles Thompson in 1881 in Fremont, Ohio.  The company was named after Jacob Herbrand, an inventor who patented at least one tool for the company.  


In 1947, Herbrand merged with the Bingham Stamping Company of Toledo to become Bingham-Herbrand.  

That company was acquired in 1961 by the Kelsey-Hayes Corporation, which already owned Utica Tools.  Kelsey-Hayes formed in 1927 as a merger of the Kelsey Wheel Company and the Hayes Wheel Company.  The company took advantage of the enormous growth of the automobile market, making wheels and then brakes for a variety of manufacturers.  In the 1950's, the company officially changed its name to the Kelsey-Hayes Corporation. 

They relocated production from both companies to Orangeburg, South Carolina in 1962 and two years later added another acquisition, Bonney Forge and Tool. 

(For a look at the 1966 Herbrand offerings, see their catalogue above.) 

Kelsey-Hayes did brand some tools with its own name, although these are considered very unusual:

Photo credit:  Garage Journal

In Canada, Herbrand tools were made by Seco Tools out of Toronto. Ownership passed to the Triangle Cooperation in 1967 and the Herbrand name became associated with low-quality, low-priced tools.

As for Kelsey-Hayes, overextended in the face of a severe economic downturn, in 1973 the company became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Fruehauf Corporation, a leading producer of truck trailers. In the 1980's, Fruehauf was divested in favour of a new successor, the K-H Corporation, which became the holding company for Kelsey-Hayes.  At this point, it became a publically-traded, independent organization.  Still, debt dragged it down and in 1989 it was bought by the Varity Corporation, a Toronto-based farm equipment and auto parts manufacturer.  Varity was in turn acquired by Lucas in 1996, forming LucasVarity plc, at that time the second largest brake manufacturer and one of the ten largest automotive component manufacturers in the world.

Above, from the web
Triangle was in turn absorbed by Cooper Industries in 1993, and the Herbrand name vanished.  So ended "The Aristocrat of Tools."


lbgradwell said...

I sold that partial socket set (yes, I mean that very socket set) for $15 last year. I kept the 1/4" socket spinner from the set as that was the only piece marked "USA" - the rest of the pieces had no COO markings at all and that is never a good sign!

The ad was from 1973, so the set at least kept its nominal value over four decades...

Robert Donley said...

Picked up a very similar brown metal boxed 3/8" drive set for $3.00 at a yard sale in Hart, MI, perhaps ten years ago. It has a molded plastic holder for the sockets, ratchet, extension, and spark plug socket. There was no 1/4" drive socket set included. The sockets and extension appear to be of moderately decent quality, but the Herbrand ratchet is poorly designed, perhaps made in Japan or Southeast Asia. I can say without reservation, it's worth the $3.00 I paid for it. :-)

Fremonter said...

Can anyone direct me to a site that gives the history and value of Herbrand tools?? I live in Fremont, Ohio, and have a few I'd like to research.

Unknown said...

i have a bunch of herbrand tools i have been collecting over the years and i have a 3 piece box also if u like to get a look at some come check me out danoh's toolbox on YouTube

Unknown said...

I have a Herbrand upper 9 drawer too box, bought in 1981

Unknown said...

I live in central Maine. Are Herbrand tools available in this area?

Mister G said...

Not unless you can find them used somewhere!

Mike W said...

I have a Herbrand S-10 socket handle that I inherited from my dad. I remember that he had it in the 50's. I still use it. this one has a button that slides up and down (as opposed to a lever that goes from side to side.

Mister G said...

Hi, If you can take a picture I'll add it to the post! thanks!