Saturday, December 30, 2017

Vanished Tool Makers: Plumb Tool Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Above, the only Plumb tool I've ever found--a 22 oz. ripping hammer.

In 1869, Fayette R. Plumb entered a partnership with Jonathan Yerkes, an established hammer manufacturer operating in the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia.  The company soon became operating as Yerkes and Plumb.  They were one of the first U.S. firms to cast steel in their tools.  Plumb bought out Yerkes when he retired in 1886, and the company became Plumb in 1888. In 1889, they added mattocks and picks when they acquired the Washoe Tool Manufacturing Company of New York City and moved its production to their own Frankford works.  Plumb and the Plomb Tool Company went to court in the mid-1920's over the use of the name as a trademark, and in the 1940's Plomb capitulated and began selling its tools under the Proto brand name. Interestingly, in their 1965 catalogue, the Plumb company still refers to itself as Fayette R. Plumb Inc.  

In 1971 the Plumb Company was acquired by the Ames Co., which itself had  been bought in 1955 by Bernhard McDonough.  For a time production was in Monroe, North Carolina and then Parkersburg, West Virginia. In turn the name Plumb was then noted as part of a brand printed on labels and in advertisements along with “AMES Division of McDonough Company”. 

Popular Mechanics

In 1981, Plumb was sold to Cooper Industries, which merged in 2010 with the Danaher Corporation to become the Apex Tool Group.  Today, the name is simply used as a brand by Apex, with manufacture outsourced to China.

For a very comprehensive company history, including trademarks, visit Yesteryear Tools.

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