Friday, October 19, 2012

Vanished Tool Makers: Brink & Cotton Manufacturing Company, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Clamp makers, out of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  A newspaper article from 1928 mentions that the factory had survived a fire, so they'd been around since at least the 20's.  They made a lot of different clamps, as my small inventory suggests:

They were still around in 1966 and were reported to have invented the pipe clamp, as shown in the news item below from Popular Mechanics of that year:

(Although, curiously, this type of clamp appears as a "bar clamp" in a publication published over a decade earlier):
Carl W. Bertsch.  The WISE Handbook of Basic Home Carpentry
New York:  Wm. H. Wise & Co., Inc., 1952.
Apparently, they were bought by the Warren Tool Group out of Hiram, Ohio, which also snapped up their competitor Hargrave in 1962, and Columbian vices in 1972.  Below, a Brink & Cotton web clamp made during their time under Warren control:

Cheap stamped tools, not forgings.

Warren also trademarked the phrase, "Quality your grandfather trusted."  It seems that Warren was swallowed up by Walter Meier Holdings AG in Switzerland in 2002.  WMH now only offers clamps under the Wilton trademark, so the Brink and Cotton name has disappeared.  Hopefully, not with the quality your grandfather trusted.


Unknown said...

This is very interesting. I purchased a box of things at an auction and in it is a web clamp identified on one side with "Made in USA" and the other side "No.891 BRINK & COTTON MFG. BRIDGEPORT, CONN." I do not have the corner pieces or the wrench. I first thought it was just a cheap load strap, but after looking more closely realized it certainly was not a product of China. The stamped markings even have the punctuation as I typed here. They just do not make things as well as we used to in the good old USA.

ColoBob said...

I have been using this web clamp for, apparently, several decades. I don’t recall when I purchased it but I have the clamp, wrench and corner pieces. If you don’t have the corner pieces you’re not missing much. They have rounded inside corners which makes them almost useless for clamping up a picture frame or anything else with sharp corners. The web clamp has served me well for all these years. Mine is stamped “Made in Taiwan” so it is probably a bit newer than your version. I recently got a bunch of epoxy on the strap and had to replace it. Otherwise the clamp is working fine with no real signs of wear. I recently purchased a couple of ratchet web clamps that have their advantages but are bulkier than this web clamp. I will keep it in service for smaller projects. Besides, I like using older familiar tools. They have a history that gives me a peaceful confidence in my shop.