Monday, August 20, 2018

Take Me To Your Ruler : Witco, Denmark

Folding Rulers Made From Wood & Brass or Fibre Glass

Previously we explored the history of a brass and wood ruler (properly a straightedge) produced in the USA by the Murray-Black Company. And as far as wooden rulers produced in Canada are concerned, The Duke covered that subject quite well in his discussion of the Acme Canada Company 

Today I have another well crafted wooden ruler to offer up, but this one hails from Denmark, and I am at a loss for the history of the company since I can’t quite figure out who they are! My model is the 202, which is 36 inches in length, and lacks a metric scale.

The name Witco is used by numerous companies across the globe today, none of who appear to produce folding rulers, or measurement devices of any type. But at some point in the last century, a Danish company called Witco (at least the rulers are made in Denmark) made some wonderful folding rulers. The terrible truth about folding rulers is that they tend to be poor at producing a straight edge for line drawing, and they have largely been displaced by the far more versatile (and longer length) retractable tape measures that we all own and use today. Still, many men in carpentry, cabinet building, and other specialized trades find use for them, especially for inside measurements.

I have identified a few different Witco folding ruler models through online auction/sale sites. These are:

Model 202 (wood and brass 36 inches)
Model 404 (wood and brass 24 inches)
Model 501 (GlassFibre 1 meter / 39 inches)

So, who is Witco?

It’s a mystery. The fact that a fibre glass product was manufactured suggests that whatever the origin of the company, it was still active during or post the second world war since that material was invented in 1938. Prominent companies that operated as Witco in the 20th century were the Western International Trading Company (produced wood tiki furniture products), the Wilde Tool Company (a USA based tool company that is unlikely to be the same company), and the Witco Chemical Company. One working theory I have would see the Diwa Manufacturing Company of Denmark producing these rulers for the Witco Chemical company as an advertising item. I have seen Witco Chemical tape measures produced for advertising purposes. Diwa produced rulers in wood and plastic in the mid 20th century that were often used as promotional swag by companies around the world (especially their slide rulers). Diwa typically used 3 digit model numbers (301, 601, etc) for their products. Also, I find the Diwa company font is somewhat similar to the Witco font used. All quite speculative on my part. Please shed some light on this if you have any information!


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