Alloy Artifacts  

Parker Manufacturing Company


Table of Contents

Introduction

The Parker Manufacturing Company was a maker of tools and other metal products operating in Worcester, Massachusetts. At one time Parker claimed to be the largest manufacturer of hacksaws and coping saws, and the company was a major supplier for the Sears Craftsman line.


Parker Manufacturing Company

[1901 Notice for Parker Wire Goods Company]
Fig. 1. 1901 Notice for Parker Wire Goods Company. [External Link]

The company was founded in 1901 as the Parker Wire Goods Company by Arthur H. Parker.

Fig. 1 shows a notice of the founding of the company, as published on page 44 of the July 10, 1901 issue of Hardware.

The text notes that Parker would serve as president and treasurer, and that one of the directors was Edward D. Priest of Schenectady, New York. The company capital is shown as $10,000.

On June 13, 1919 the company was incorporated with $25,000 of capital.

A 1922 directory of manufacturers in Massachusetts listed the company at 18 Grafton Street in Worcester, with A.H. Parker still serving as president and treasurer.


The Parker Metal Goods Company

In late 1922 Arthur H. Parker left the Parker Wire Goods Company to found the Parker Metal Goods Company.

A New Factory and New Management

In 1930 the company built a large factory at 149 Washington Street in Worcester, which became the company's primary manufacturing facility for many years.

In 1931 Dwight E. Priest became president of the Parker Wire Goods Company. Priest was the son of Edward D. Priest, one of the founders of the company, and had worked for the company since 1922.

Under the management of the younger Priest the company began evolving into a maker of tools, and the early tool products included hacksaws, coping saws, and screwdrivers.

Hacksaw Development

As the company began developing hacksaws during the 1930s, Parker received several patents for hacksaw frame construction. Patents 2,058,107 and RE20,252 were issued to D.E. Priest in 1936 and 1937 respectively, with assignment to Parker Wire Goods. The illustrations in these patents show the familiar adjustment mechanism with semi-circular indentations in the bottom of the moveable frame.

The Parker Line

[1938 Ad for Parker Line]
Fig. 2. 1938 Ad for "The Parker Line".

The scan in Fig. 2 shows a good summary of Parker products comprising "The Parker Line", as published on page 76 of the July 28, 1938 issue of the Hardware Age Directory.

The illustration shows a range of Parker products including screw eyes and hooks, putty knives, hacksaws, a keyhole saw, coping saws, and the "Falcon" screw-holding screwdriver.

This ad is one of the earliest references to "The Parker Line" as a summary of the company's products. The phrase was hardly unique though, as at least three other companies used it in the same way, for products ranging from fountain pens to tubing and fittings to bathroom cabinets.

[1940 Ad for Parker Wire Goods Hacksaws]
Fig. 3. 1940 Ad for Parker Wire Goods Hacksaws. [External Link]

Fig. 3 shows an ad for Parker hacksaw frames, as published on page 252 of the July 25, 1940 issue of the Hardware Age Directory.

A close look at the illustration in the ad shows that the hacksaw frames are marked "Parker Line".

The directory lists the company under numerous categories, including keyhole saws, hacksaw blades, wall scrapers, putty knives, and screwdrivers.


Production for Sears Roebuck

By the late 1930s Parker Wire Goods had become a supplier to Sears Roebuck for screw holding screwdrivers. The 1939 Craftsman catalog illustrates a Dunlap screw holding screwdriver with a sliding clip, which matches the description in the 1942 Priest patent 2,292,657. The screwdriver is described as having an amber handle with a square shank of chrome-vanadium steel.

Parker may also have been the maker of Dunlap and/or Craftsman hack saws.

This modest start was the beginning of a long association with Sears.

Name Change to Parker Manufacturing

In 1943 the company changed its name to the Parker Manufacturing Company.

"Lever Jaw" Locking Pliers

The 1942 Sears Craftsman catalog offered "Vise-Grip Wrench" locking pliers by name, with the "Vise Grip" marking clearly shown in the illustration. But with the expiration of the 1924 Petersen Vise-Grip patent in 1941, Sears decided to offer a competing tool based on the original design.

In the mid 1940s Sears Roebuck began offering "Lever Jaw" locking pliers modeled on the Petersen "Vise-Grip" pliers, and selected Parker Manufacturing as the maker.

The "Lever Jaw" pliers became an important product for Sears and were sold under both the Dunlap and Craftsman brands.

Acquisition of Ackermann-Steffan

In 1949 Parker Manufacturing acquired the Ackermann-Steffan Company of Chicago, makers of "Trojan" brand saw blades and saw frames.

We found a notice of the acquisition on page 62 of the August, 1949 issue of Commercial Refrigeration and Air Conditioning. The notice stated that Ackermann-Steffan would operate as a division of Parker.

By the mid 1950s Parker Manufacturing was claiming to be the world's largest manufacturer of hacksaws.

Supplier of Drill Bits

By the mid 1950s Parker Manufacturing was supplying wood boring bits and countersink bits to Sears. The company became indirectly involved in a lawsuit after Sears was sued for infringement of a patent for drill bits.

A Patent Infringement Lawsuit

In the late 1950s or early 1960s Parker Manufacturing and Sears Roebuck were sued for patent infringement by Harold T. Jones and Petersen Manufacturing, based on a claim that locking pliers made by Parker were infringing on the 1950 Jones patent 2,514,130. The trial transcript identified Petersen Manufacturing as the exclusive licensee of the Jones patent.

The specific feature that triggered the infringement claim was the inclusion of a small release lever inside the lower handle, an improvement first described by the Jones patent. The Parker pliers made a slight change by having the release lever pivoting on the strut and pushing against the lower handle, as described by patent RE24.465, issued in 1958 with assignment to Parker Manufacturing.

The plaintiffs prevailed in trial court, with the court upholding the validity of the earlier Jones patent and apparently finding that patent RE24.465 lacked originality. Interested readers can find an AI-generated summary of the court's decision at Jones v. Sears, Roebuck & Co. [External Link].

The decision was appealed and upheld. We found a link to the 1962 appeal at 308 F.2d 705 (10th Cir. 1962) [External Link].

A check of the Sears catalogs shows that locking pliers with the release lever were first offered in 1959 and continued to be available at least into the mid 1970s. This suggests that after losing the lawsuit, Sears may have negotiated royalty payments to continue offering the release lever feature.

Ratcheting Box-End Wrenches

In the 1970s Parker Manufacturing began supplying ratcheting box-end wrenches to Sears Roebuck, which were described by patent 3,742,788, issued in 1973.

Later Events

In 1989 Parker Manufacturing was acquired by The Stanley Works.

Patents

Parker Manufacturing Co.: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
2,058,107 D.E. Priest09/18/193510/20/1936 Hacksaw Frame Construction
RE20,252 D.E. Priest09/18/193501/26/1937 Hacksaw Frame Construction
2,085,667 H.P. Macomber09/20/193506/29/1937 Hacksaw Construction
2,292,657 D.E. Priest05/24/194008/11/1942 Screw Holder
2,574,676 G.J. Waterbury11/22/194611/13/1951 Toggle Actuated Locking Pliers
RE24.465 G.J. Waterbury11/22/194604/29/1958 Toggle Actuated Locking Pliers
3,742,788 E.D. Priest07/20/197207/03/1973 Ratcheting Wrench
3,997,279 L.S. Porter01/20/197512/14/1976 Drill Bit

Trademarks

[1927 Application for PWG Trademark]
Fig. 4. 1927 Application for "PWG" Trademark. [External Link]

On May 25, 1926 Parker Wire Goods filed a trademark application for a "PWG" logo, and the application was published as serial 232,214 on page 486 of the December 20, 1927 issue of the Official Gazette. The application was granted as trademark #239,208 on February 28, 1928.

Fig. 4 shows the trademark application for a "PWG" logo.

The section on "Particular description of goods" shows an insanely long list of products, beginning with wire screw eyes and including items such as dobby rings(?), dog chains, and even automotive specialties. (And the list continues in the next column!)

Parker Manufacturing Co.: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
TROJAN   12/12/192310/05/1925   Filed by Ackermann, Steffan & Company
For jeweler's saws, jig saws, etc.
Serial 221,225. Published March 23, 1926.
PWG [logo] 239,208 04/19/192605/25/1926 02/28/1928 Filed by Parker Wire Goods Company.
For wire screw eyes, other metal products
Serial 232,214. Published December 20, 1927.
DETA 282,871 10/25/193012/29/1930 05/05/1931 Filed by Parker Wire Goods Company.
For hand cutting tools and parts.
Serial 309,441. Published February 24, 1931.

Tool Identification

Tools made by Parker Manufacturing were typically marked with the company name or with "The Parker Line". Tools made as contract production for Sears Roebuck were typically marked with an I-Circle logo.


I-Circle Logo

I
Fig. 5. Idealized I-Circle Mark.

Fig. 5 shows an idealized I-Circle logo constructed with vector graphics.

Parker Manufacturing used this logo on tools made for the Craftsman brand.


References and Resources

Photographs and observations of particular tools are based on items in the Alloy Artifacts Collection.

Catalog Coverage

Currently we do not have any catalogs for Parker Manufacturing.


Selected Tools

We have examples of Parker's production for the Craftsman line, including locking pliers and hacksaws.


Craftsman "I-Circle" 10 Inch Locking Pliers with Release Lever

[Craftsman I-Circle 10 Inch Locking Pliers]
Fig. 6. Craftsman "I-Circle" 10 Inch Locking Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1959-1960s.

Fig. 6 shows a pair of Craftsman 10 inch locking pliers with a release lever, stamped with "Craftsman" and an "I-Circle" manufacturer's code on the front, with "Made in U.S.A." on the back (not shown).

The overall length is 10.0 inches with the adjusting screw backed out, at which point the jaws could lock onto something about 1.3 inches wide. The finish is chrome plating with a matte finish.

The "I-Circle" code indicates production by Parker Manufacturing.

These pliers are fitted with a release lever, a feature first offered in 1959.

As we noted in any earlier section, the initial inclusion of the release lever resulted in a patent infringement lawsuit against Sears Roebuck and Parker Manufacturing. Sears and Parker lost the lawsuit but continued to supply locking pliers with release levers, suggesting that a royalty agreement was negotiated afterwards.

The release lever indicates production in 1959 or later, and the absence of a model number marking suggests production before 1970.

The 1966 Craftsman catalog listed locking pliers in two sizes, 7.5 and 10 inches, and the pliers were available with either straight or curved jaws. Our example is the 10 inch size with curved jaws, which was listed as model 45961.


Craftsman "I-Circle" 93558 Adjustable Hacksaw

[Craftsman 93558 Hacksaw]
Fig. 7. Craftsman 93558 Hacksaw, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1970.

Fig. 7 shows a Craftsman 9 3558 adjustable hacksaw, stamped with the Craftsman "Crown" logo and "Made in USA" on the frame, with an I-Circle manufacturer's code at the right.

The overall length is 16.8 inches with a 10 inch blade installed. The finish is chrome plating.

The frame has two adjustment positions to accept 10 and 12 inch blades.

The I-Circle code indicates production by Parker Manufacturing.


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