I recently found these snips at a local thrift store. Cleaned up, they bore the J. Wiss & Sons name of Newark, New Jersey. They look similar to the light metal snips pictured in the 1961 catalogue below:
Below, a pair of Wiss M-5 Bulldog Metalmaster aviation snips in my shop. Great name!
I also have a pair of the company's Hy-Power 908 secateurs:
Jacob Wiss immigrated from Switzerland to New Jersey in 1847. A cutler and gunsmith, he began to make surgical instruments and shears, products which came into their own during the American Civil War. After his death in 1880, his sons assumed control and the company prospered with a full warranty on all products. With the introduction of power drop hammers in 1906, the company gained ascendancy as the world's largest producer of shears and scissors by 1914.
Their offerings were in demand during both world wars and, following the Second World War, aviation snips became best sellers. In 1967, the company was acquired by Cooper Industries, becoming a hand tool division. In 2010, Cooper Tools and the Danaher Tool Group merged into the Apex Tool Group, which is the current home for Wiss which continues as one of their brands.
For a full history, click here. For historical pics of the various Wiss factories, click here.
In Canada, Wiss tools were made out of Barrie, Ontario in what I believe was the Lufkin factory, after that firm was also acquired by Cooper Industries in 1967.
According to T.M. Technologies:
All of us have seen the huge migration of US tool companies to "offshore" sourcing (Milwaukee went Chinese-owned in the 1990's. ViseGrip left for China in October of '09). In some cases this is good for the consumer's wallet, but it's often short-term gain —with short-term satisfaction. There are many tools I use (or want) that don't seem to be made well enough offshore.
Snips, for instance, are something that must cut smooth and straight – and not fold the metal over instead of cutting a narrow sliver off of an edge of stainless steel. Wiss snips used to be great – until they went offshore in the early 1980's and their forgings were downgraded into castings, which are softer and less reliable. I did not realize this because my old Wiss snips were made in 1969 and 1972, and I had never tried the later ones. When I finally used the new ones I realized why Wiss was no longer regarded as a quality item. Now we have found MidWest Snips and are very grateful to carry their whole line of Forged high-quality American Made snips.