Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vanished Tool Makes: Hoppe

Over the years, I've collected a variety of tools with the Hoppe name:

Above, from a Hoppe socket set advertised on Kijiji

As can be seen, they made ratchets, sockets, monkey wrenches, push drills, spring scales, pliers, side cutters, wrenches, awls, countersinks, squares and twist drills.  They also made glass cutters.

Below, a large pair of fence pliers:

And linesman pliers:

Note that the one pair of pliers above is marked "Hoppe Super." Most of the ratchets and sockets I've founded were also stamped "Hoppe Super":

Maybe "Super" was their higher quality brand?

Interestingly, the ratchet above is almost identical to ones made in Canada by Fleet, right down to the dual pawls they use (in fact, the pawls are interchangeable between the two brands), making me wonder if they didn't make ratchets for Fleet at one time (although, in the U.S., my understanding is that Proto made tools under the Fleet trademark).  Mysteries abound.

They also made a different model of ratchet, a Model 950N:

Their wrenches were stamped "Hoppe Guaranteed" for whatever that's worth:

They also made wrenches in large sizes.  Below, a 1" combination.

The Hoppe monkey wrench still had a paper price tag on it:

That says something about the age of the tool.  How long has it been since you could buy an 18-inch monkey wrench for $3.22?

Wood chisels were among their offerings:

How about auger bits?  They made them too!

Coping saw blades were among their offerings:

Also jeweler's screwdrivers and cold chisels:

They even made a nice toolbox!  I keep all of my Hoppe tools in it.

The latest tool I can find with their name is an awl with an impact resistant plastic-handle, so the company must have persisted into the age of plastics:

Other than they were made in Germany, I can find absolutely no information about this tool maker, even when I queried someone who was working in Germany for another large tool maker in that country.  Very curious disappearance of what clearly was a very large firm at one time.

It's possible that they started out as Hoppe & Tesche of Cronenberg.  Below, a 1920 ad for this company (and their "Rhenania" factory) courtesy of Alte Beitel:


lbgradwell said...

Very interesting to see that Hoppe Super ratchet; I have never encountered one...

But I can say with a high degree of confidence that it is Proto who would have made the ratchet for Hoppe, not the other way around.

Fleet was indeed a Proto brand & the line was made - for the Canadian market - in London, Ontario...

Unknown said...

Have a hoppe ratchet set in its case still are they worth anything?

The Duke said...

They're only worth what someone is willing to pay. I find my stuff at yard sales for a couple of bucks. You'd need to check ebay or various tool collector forums to see if there's any demand.

Unknown said...

Hi Duke,
I have a complete Socket Set all components are stamped Made in Canada

The sticker on the case shows Don Mills, Ontario, I wonder if this was a distribution center in Canada or did they fabricate there also?
Pictures can be seen here...

The Duke said...

Wow! They're actually stamped "Made in Canada"? That's fascinating. As Mr. Gradwell comments above, perhaps they were made by Proto in Canada, although that would place their manufacture in London. So, only their distribution centre might have been in Don Mills. In any event, thanks to you we now know that the company was D. Hoppe Ltd. (athough it looks like O. Hoppe to me) and that their trademark was "Hoppeman." Cute!

Anonymous said...

Hi Duke!

An old-man gave me a 8'' level HOPPE made in Germany. On the level we can see theses words: GENUINE OAK.

Like this one :$_35.JPG

I didn't find inforamtions about this company!

But I can see that there are hoppe tools with mark MADE IN GERMANY anad MADE IN WEST GERMANY.

Maybe a company from 1940's...

I found on internet a post from a collector...

Community Member
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎03-21-2013

in reply to hike2leconte
‎03-21-2013 11:26 AM

As a collector of classic cameras i`ve encountered this problem quite often and found it not quite simple!

Before WWII (1945) it was always "Made in Germany" or simply "Germany".

From 1945 to 1949, before the "Federal Republic of Germany" was established, mostly no identification was used, but occasionally, merely depending on the availability of components, also "Made in Germany" is found.

Identifications such as "Made in Germany - US-Zone" were normally confined to high technical products, e.g. quality-lenses also for military uses, on which sales or export restrictions were applied.

From 1949 (until today) "Made in Germay" was used again, but from ca. 1952/55 "Made in Western-Germany" or "Made in West-Germany" was preferred to distinguish from GDR (East-Germany). But this was not compulsory and rather used at whim.

"West-Germany" became obsolete in 1990. But these days "Made in Germany" is commonly replaced by "Made in EU"

Let me know what you think about that!

The Duke said...

Thanks. I was aware of the change in marking following Germany's defeat in WWII. I would expect that Hoppe's "Made in Germany" tools predate WWII, but I don't know if the company survived past re-unification.

Unknown said...

I also picked up a Hoppe Super socket set at a garage sale:

Not sure if you folks have seen these trademarks:

Anonymous said...

My father in law (now 95) was a supervisor with Hoppe from the early 60s until after the company moved to Scarborough from its location on Wellington St W. Fifty years later he still is in touch with some of the former employees.


Anonymous said...

Another post re Hoppe Tools in Toronto.

From conversations woth my father-in-law, who was a supervisor with Hoppe when the company was located on Wellington St.

The company was started by Otto Hoppe, who emigrated to Canada after WWII . He died sortly after my father-in-law began working at Hoppe, and the company was run by Werner Rademaker, who was a friend of Hoppe's in Germany. The company sourced tool makers in Germany and had the tools branded as Hoppe. The company also sourced tools from the US, which might explain the similarity to an existing US brand of tools. Hoppe tried sourcing tools from China, but the socket wrenches failed under testing and the entire shipment was rejected, leaving Hoppe with little inventory.

The quality issues with the Chinese suppliers, along with the move to Scarborough (at the time a long distance from customers in downtown Toronto) were probably contributors to the failure of the company.


The Duke said...

Thank you so much for this information! It's exactly what we hope the blog will achieve--a place for others to add to the information about these vanished manufacturers before the history is lost completely. Would your father-in-law have any idea when the company finally closed its doors?

Unknown said...

Hoppe also made 4-Fold boxwood rules. I have a 4-fold 36" HOPPE (model no.4150) and it has no country of origin stamped on it. Looks almost identical to a Rabone No.1167 from the same era.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be so long responding to the question you posted. I happened to search Hoppe Tools in response to a conversation with my now 97 year old father-in-law. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Robert left Hoppe Tools shortly after the company moved its office and distribution centre to Scarborough. Dates are difficult for him to recall, but from conversations we have had over the years, I think the move took place in the mid 1960s. He does not recall when the company ceased business.

Again, these are recollections and opinions of a man who will soon turn 98, and who left Hoppe more than 50 years ago. From his recollections, Hoppe was not a tool manufacturer, but a distributor of tools it had built and branded by suppliers in Gemany. As others have noted, Hoppe might well have also been sourcing tools from Canadian and American manufacturers. It seems that Hoppe was early into sourcing manufacturing from China.

Robert frequently staffed a Hoppe booth at trade shows. One area that was on his route was KW, but he also mentioned Norrth Bay.


Mister G said...

Thanks for the history!

Unknown said...

Very cool! I actually have an old Hoppe saw that was my grandfather’s. It’s a bit rusty but you can still make out what it says on the side: “This saw is superior in every aspect and is guaranteed against defects of every kind.” Since they’re out of business I guess I can’t call them to complain about the rust!

RMS said...

I have a few Hoppe chisels and some other odds & ends of woodworking tools, I'd have to go exploring to figure what exactly is there. I know for sure that several have both "Hoppe" and "Germany" on them. I think I have a saw set, maybe some pliers, and a few chisels. Three chisels, 3/8", 1/2", and 3/4" I've had since the '70s. Good steel, kinda weird because they have a round back rather than flat or bevelled, but not bad to use. A little stocky, so they're good for hard working (read "abuse"). The chisels were old when I acquired them many years ago, and no I don't remember where I got them. Possibly from a great uncle who died 1976ish and left me a pile of tools. I live in Niagara.

Goingbuddha said...

My daughter found a leather-handled hunting knife in the woods. Been there a long time from the look of the rust. After soaking in vinegar, I used a sharpening stone to get to the maker's mark. Hoppe on one side and West Germany on the other. Doesn't seem to be a lot of Hoppe hunting knives around, that I can see.

Anonymous said...

I have a Hoppe rasp with a typical red handle and a coarse side and a fine side. The triangular geometries of the metal rasp are quite intriguing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Neil for the history from your father in law.
I used a wire brush wheel to clean the rust off a long nose pliers with fancy engraved hand grip, says Hoppe on one side Germany on the other, Germany was know for good quality so I'm not surprised the tools from China failed quality control. Things from China might be better now with many companies putting their name on it and guarantee.

Anonymous said...

Just found a Hoope utility knife in a grab bag. Well made. Embossed handle makes it non slip. Castings fit together seamlessly. German stamp on it. Unfortunately today's blades just don't fit. I use all vintage tools I find to honor the manufacturers.

Anonymous said...

Western Canada, found a Hoppe square, painted red, small yellow level and knurled brass marking pin and tension knob. Might be aluminum body. Ruler is 12 inch, steel, thick, black ink. Ruler is stamped with HOPPE above MADE IN GERMANY in a flat oval. Robust tool nice design in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Western Canada, found a 3/8" round head ratchet, marked X5N Hoppe Super. The X is a number that is very hard to read, might be 7 or 9. It still works fine after a little cleanup.

Anonymous said...

My dad found an old spring scale. It was made in germany and is in pretty good condition for its age. Do you know what year these came into cycle? Looks like it was used to weigh fish.

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enough to find a new, never opened, Hoppe Super Hatchet, or small hand axe. It still has the plastic covering the head holding in grease and the faux leather head cover... it's like it was just taken off the shelf

Mister G said...

Now, the dilemma. Do you display it in that form or do you take it out and start using it?!