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.


Unknown said...

I have 1210 VPLVMBV made in usa 5/16
Combo wrench in my hand right now as I read this, I also have almost a full wrench set 1/2" breaker bar center punches and other damn fine tools made by them they're top of the line period.

Anonymous said...


RansomeForge said...

Just polished and rehung a well worn 48 oz plumb engineers hammer on a Link USA made hickory handle, that just happened to have perfect grain orientation. It will serve me well, just as it did for someone else for the last 50 years. long live real Plumb tools.

Mister G said...

Hard to find proper well-grained handles these days!

Dane said...

No not back before recent times. Plumb did make very good american tool line that made a whole lineup of mechanic tools. Not real flashy but very well made. In recent years I’ve only seen hammers with thier name and yes made in china along with craftsman husky kobalt millwakii crescent and whole slew of other tool lines that ruined their quality of tools. Except kobalt all other brands were until recently made in USA plumb tools were a very good tool

Anonymous said...

I have used Plumb Hammers since I was 16. My dad bought me my first hammer and it was a Plumb. Dad always told me that Plumb and Eastwing built America