Monday, May 26, 2014

Crown Cork and Seal Company


I found this wrench at a thrift store.  It's remarkably short for it's across-the-flats opening of over 3 inches.  It was pretty dirty, so I thought at first that perhaps it was an adjustment tool for a locomotive or a large industrial machine.  After I cleaned it, there was the company name:  the Crown Cork & Seal Company.


This firm dates back to 1892 when it was founded in Baltimore by William Painter.  Of Irish descent, he was born in Maryland and ultimately became involved in the development of a universal neck for glass bottles.  Painter invented the bottle cap in 1891, patenting it a year later, followed by a patent for the bottle opener in 1894.  




In 1898, he produced the first foot-powered bottle crowner with which an operator could fill and cap 24 bottles a minute.  Over the course of his life, he was granted 85 patents, including a paper-folding machine, a safety injection seat for passenger trains, and a machine for detecting counterfeit currency.  He was honoured in 2006 by induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Painter passed away in 1906, by which time his company had spread to Europe, South America and the Orient. In 1927, the company merged with the New Process Cork Company, establishing the Crown Holdings International Corporation. Prohibition put a serious kink into bottle cap sales, but soft drinks kept the company afloat. By the 1930's, the firm was supplying half the world's bottle caps. In 1936, the Acme Can Company of Philadelphia was acquired, which moved the company into this area of manufacturing. In 1937, the company perfected electrolytic tin-plating and introduced the "Crowntainer", a quart beer can. World War II saw the company developing and producing a gas mask canister.  Over the following decades, they continued to introduce improvements to beverage and food containers.  By the 1990's, the company claimed to be manufacturing one out of every five beverage cans in the world, and one out of every three food cans in North America and Europe. In 2011, they developed Holocrown, a technology that permitted holographic images to be stamped onto speciality packaging.  Quite a progression from the simple bottle cap!  Crown Holdings today is a Fortune 500 company which makes about 60 billion beverage cans a year, along with food cans, aerosol cans and metal closures, along with machinery for manufacturing cans.

As for the tool, I took a chance and sent an inquiry along with a photo to Thomas Fischer, Vice President Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs at Crown Holdings.  He generously agreed to help, made some inquiries within the company, and got back to me with information supplied by Bill Valeriano:

"On the Crown Capper, Vintage 1892 there is an adjustment nut on the main column and another adjustment on the column Rack. This wrench could potentially be used for those adjustments as it appears the size is correct.  However, the overall length of the wrench appears to be quite small to provide any mechanical advantage unless it was struck with a hammer. Evidence at the lower left side of the photograph shows distortion as if it were stuck with a hammer. Interesting tool thanks for asking. However, not sure  of its actual use."

So, if anyone out there needs their 1892 Crown Capper adjusted, I've got the tool.

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