Alloy Artifacts  

Wilde Tool Company


Table of Contents

Introduction

The Wilde Tool Company is a maker of pliers and other tools operating in Hiawatha, Kansas.


Company History

Wilde Tool was incorporated in 1922 as the Wilde Drop Forge and Tool Company in Kansas City, Missouri.

[1922 Notice of Incorporation for Wilde Drop Forge]
Fig. 1. 1922 Notice of Incorporation for Wilde Drop Forge and Tool. [External Link]

Fig. 1 shows a notice of incorporation for the Wilde Drop Forge and Tool Company, as published on page 595 of the October 12, 1922 issue of American Machinist.

The text notes the company's capital stock as $50,000, and the shareholders are listed as Mary Wilde, Goldie Wilde, and Paul Froeschl.

Another source from 1922 gave the company's address as 2936-40 Fairmount Avenue, and noted their products as pliers, tools, and drop forgings.

[1924 Catalog Listing for Wilde Thin-Nose Pliers]
Fig. 2. 1924 Catalog Listing for Wilde Thin-Nose Pliers.

The scan in Fig. 2 shows an example of the company's early products, as published in the Waterhouse & Lester catalog No. 20 from 1924.

The catalog listing describes two models of Wilde's thin-nose pliers, No. 2000 with straight jaws and No. 2020 with bent jaws. The description notes the use of "special alloy steel" and a polished nickel finish.

A careful look at the illustration shows a distinctive "rope-banded" pattern on the handles.

This catalog listing is significant, as it shows that the company was able to have its products carried by industrial distributors soon after the company was founded.


Rope-Banded Gripping Pattern

From early on Wilde adopted a distinctive "rope-banded" gripping pattern for its plier handles. This handle pattern is often helpful in identifying Wilde contract production, as no other plier maker is known to have used this type of pattern.

The "rope-banded" pattern can be seen in the 1924 catalog listing above, and the 1926 J.M. Waterston catalog illustrated all models of Wilde pliers with "rope-banded" handles.

Purchase by Froeschl Brothers

In 1927 the company was purchased by brothers Otto and Paul Froeschl.

"Wilde Wrench" Pliers

[1931 Catalog Listing for Wilde Wrench Pliers]
Fig. 2B. 1931 Catalog Listing for Wilde Wrench Pliers.

One of the company's best-known products was a line of angle-nose gripping pliers sold under the trade name "Wilde Wrench".

The scan in Fig. 2B shows a listing for "Wilde Wrench" pliers, as published on page 412 of the 1931 Mossman-Yarnelle distributor catalog.

These pliers were based on patent #1,800,447, filed by Otto Froeschl in 1928 and issued in 1931.

Note that the illustration shows the handles with a rope-banded gripping pattern, a characteristic of Wilde's production.

This catalog offered the wrench pliers only in sizes 6 and 8 inches, but we have an example of a 7 inch model as well.

One production quirk to note is that the slot for the slip-joint mechanism is flat on one side. In the illustration the flat side is towards the nose of the pliers, but our examples below have the flat side towards the handles.


Contract Manufacturing for Retail Chains

According to the company's website, in 1936 Wilde Tool began contract production for several large retail companies, including Montgomery Ward, Sears Roebuck, and Western Auto Supply. These companies sold products both from physical stores as well as by mail order, giving Wilde nationwide access to retail markets.

Production for Sears Craftsman

In the mid 1930s Wilde began producing tools for the Sears Craftsman line. The earliest tools supplied were battery pliers, but later production included a variety of plier models, and during the mid 1940s Wilde even produced various types of Craftsman wrenches.

Although Wilde Tool is best known today for its pliers, during the 1930s and 1940s the company offered a full line of service tools, including wrenches, sockets and drive tools, chisels and punches, automotive specialty tools, and even auto body tools.

Continuing Operations

In 1955 the company moved to its present location in Hiawatha, Kansas and changed its name to Wilde Tool, Incorporated.

Wilde Tool continues in operation today under management by later generations of the Froeschl family, and further information can be found on the company's website at www.wildetool.com [External Link].


Patents

Wilde Tool: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
1,800,447 O.P. Froeschl12/27/192804/14/1931 Slip-Joint Pliers
Wilde 7 Inch Wrench Pliers

Trademarks

Wilde Tool: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
WITCO 1,552,534 07/31/197007/18/1988 08/22/1989 "WITCO" stylized logo.
Wilde 1,681,793 01/01/192005/17/1991 04/07/1992  

References and Resources

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


Catalog Coverage

We have several catalogs for Wilde Tool, as summarized in the table below.

Wilde Tool: Catalog Resources
Catalog Year Format Notes
      No. 41 (1941, Full):
No. 41 1941 Full No copyright.
Lists socket tools in 3/8 and 1/2 drive.
Notes hot-forged sockets.
Full line of wrenches.
Full line of fender and body tools.
      No. 58 (1958, Full):
No. 58 1958 Full No copyright, date inferred from catalog number. 17 pages.
Available for Download [External Link] from ITCL.
No sockets or drive tools.
Wrench selection limited to ignition wrenches.
Includes automotive specialty tools, chisels, and punches.
      No. 61 (1961, Full):
No. 61 1961 Full  

Industrial Distributors

Wilde tools were available from a number of automotive and industrial supply catalogs, and some examples of these publications are listed below.


Pliers


"Wilde Wrench" Pliers

Wilde found early success with a line of angle-nose "wrench" pliers based on patent #1,800,447.


Early 7 Inch "Wilde Wrench" Pliers

[Wilde Early 7 Inch Wilde Wrench Pliers]
Fig. 3. Wilde Early 7 Inch "Wilde Wrench" Pliers, with Insets for Handle Pattern and Marking Detail, ca. 1928-1931.

Fig. 3 shows a pair of Wilde 7 inch angle-nose pliers, stamped "Wilde Wrench 7" and "Pat. Pend." on the handle, with "KC MO" in the Wilde logo.

The overall length is 7.2 inches. The finish was originally nickel plating, but has now worn to bare steel in most areas.

The underside of each handle also has a forged-in marking "Alloy Steel", as shown in the lower inset.

The patent pending notation refers to patent #1,800,447, filed by Otto Froeschl in 1928 and issued in 1931. Based on the filing date, these pliers were likely made in 1928-1931.

These early pliers use a slip-joint mechanism with two positions, but the later models were made with three positions.


8 Inch "Wilde Wrench" Pliers

[Wilde 8 Inch Wrench Pliers]
Fig. 4. Wilde 8 Inch "Wilde Wrench" Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1930s to 1940s.

Fig. 4 shows a pair of Wilde 8 inch angle-nose pliers, stamped with the Wilde "KC MO" logo and "Wilde Wrench", and with a "Pat. No. 1800447" patent notice.

The overall length is 8.3 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The underside of each handle also has a forged-in marking "Alloy Steel", shown as a close-up in the lower inset.

The patent notice refers to patent #1,800,447, issued to Otto Froeschl in 1931.

Note that one side of the slip-joint slot is flat, with the semi-circular openings facing the nose of the pliers. The upper jaw has 11 major notches.


Wilde 6 Inch "Wilde Wrench" Pliers

[Wilde 6 Inch Wilde Wrench Pliers]
Fig. 5. Wilde 6 Inch "Wilde Wrench" Pliers, with Inset for Handle Pattern, ca. 1930s to 1940s.

Fig. 5 shows a later version of the 6 inch angle-nose pliers, stamped "Wilde Wrench 6" and "Pat. No. 1800477".

The overall length is 6.2 inches.

The patent notice refers to patent #1,800,447, issued to Otto Froeschl in 1931.

Note that one side of the slip-joint slot is flat, with the semi-circular openings facing the nose of the pliers. The upper jaw has five major notches.


Diagonal Cutters


Wilde No. 402 6 Inch Diagonal Cutters

[Wilde No. 402 6 Inch Diagonal Cutters]
Fig. 6. Wilde No. 402 6 Inch Diagonal Cutters, with Insets for Side View and Back Side Detail.

Fig. 6 shows a pair of Wilde No. 402 6 inch diagonal cutters, stamped with the "Wilde KC MO" logo and "U.S.A." on the back side.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The top inset shows a side view of the pliers, illustrating the finely detailed rope-banded gripping pattern on the handles.


Battery Pliers


Wilde No. 410 Battery Pliers

[Wilde No. 410 Battery Pliers]
Fig. 7. Wilde No. 410 Battery Pliers, with Inset for Handle Pattern.

Fig. 7 shows a pair of Wilde No. 410 battery pliers, stamped with the Wilde logo and "K.C. Mo." near the pivot.

The overall length is 7.7 inches.

The inset shows the distinctive rope-banded gripping pattern used by Wilde for most of their plier production.

A very similar pair of pliers made by Wilde for the Sears Craftsman brand can be seen as the Craftsman Battery Pliers with Rope-Banded Pattern.


Wrenches

In addition to pliers, Wilde also produced a full line of wrenches and socket tools during the 1930s and 1940s. The box-end and combination wrenches from this period were made in a style with markings forged into depressed panels, with small panels for the opening sizes.


Wilde Chrome-Vanadium Open-End Wrenches

[1941 Catalog Listing for Wilde Open-End Wrenches]
Fig. 8. 1941 Catalog Listing for Wilde Open-End Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 8 shows a catalog listing for Wilde open-end wrenches, as published on page 12 of the 1941 catalog.

Note that the illustration shows the wrench marked "Chromium Vanadium", using the full element names. This suggests that Wilde was a supplier for Western Auto Supply, which used "Chromium Vanadium" as a brand in the 1930s.

Wilde also offered tappet wrenches with 15 degree head offsets. Tappet wrenches were forged from chrome-molybdenum alloy steel, and four models were available: 1090G (7/16x17/32), 1090D (1/2x9/16), 1092F (5/8x11/16), and 1094 (3/4x7/8).


Wilde "Chromium Vanadium" 1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench

[Wilde 1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 9. Wilde 1723 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Back Side, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 9 shows a Wilde 1723 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench, stamped "Chromium Vanadium" with the Wilde logo on the shank, with the fractional sizes on the back side faces.

The overall length is 5.0 inches, and the finish is polished steel, with possible traces of nickel plating.

The "Chromium Vanadium" marking strongly suggests that this wrench was made as contract production for Western Auto Supply, which began using "Chromium Vanadium" as a brand in the early 1930s.


Wilde "Chromium Vanadium" 1725-B 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench

[Wilde 1725-B 1/2x6/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 10. Wilde 1725-B 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Back Side, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 10 shows a Wilde 1725-B 1/2x9/16 open-end wrench, stamped "Chromium Vanadium" with the Wilde logo on the shank, with the fractional sizes on the back side faces.

The overall length is 6.1 inches, and the finish is polished steel, with possible traces of nickel plating.

The "Chromium Vanadium" marking strongly suggests that this wrench was made as contract production for Western Auto Supply, which began using "Chromium Vanadium" as a brand in the early 1930s.


Wilde Long Pattern Box-End Wrenches

[Catalog Listing for Wilde Long Pattern Box-End Wrenches]
Fig. 11. 1941 Catalog Listing for Wilde Long Pattern Box-End Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 11 shows a catalog listing for Wilde long pattern box-end wrenches, as published on page 14 of the 1941 catalog. The wrenches were offered in two styles, a straight shank style with 15 degree offsets, and a double deep offset style.

Box-end wrenches were also available in a short pattern in straight and double offset styles, and in "midget" sizes with 6-point openings.


Wilde 127 13/16x7/8 Box-End Wrench

The next two figures show examples of Wilde's box-end wrenches.

[Wilde 127 13/16x7/8 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 12. Wilde 127 13/16x7/8 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Back Side Detail, ca. 1930s-1940s.

Fig. 12 shows a Wilde 127 13/16x7/8 box-end wrench, marked with "Chrome Vanadium Steel" and the fractional sizes forged into the shank, with "Wilde K.C. MO" and the model number stamped on the back side.

(The lower inset has been rotated for readability.)

The overall length is 12.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


Wilde 129 15/16x1 Box-End Wrench

[Wilde 129 15/16x1 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 13. Wilde 129 15/16x1 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Back Side Detail, ca. 1930s-1940s.

Fig. 13 shows a Wilde 129 15/16x1 box-end wrench, marked with "Chrome Vanadium Steel" and the fractional sizes forged into the shank, with "Wilde K.C. MO" and the model number stamped on the back side.

(The lower inset has been rotated for readability.)

The overall length is 15.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


Wilde "Boxoe" Combination Wrenches

[1941 Catalog Listing for Wilde Combination Wrenches]
Fig. 14. 1941 Catalog Listing for Wilde "Boxoe" Combination Wrenches.

The scan in Fig. 14 shows a catalog listing for Wilde "Boxoe" combination wrenches, as published on page 13 of the 1941 catalog.


Wilde 195 3/4 Combination Wrench

[Wilde 195 3/4 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 15. Wilde 195 3/4 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Back Side Detail, ca. Mid 1930s-1940s.

Fig. 15 shows a Wilde 195 3/4 combination wrench, marked with "Wilde K.C. Mo." and the fractional sizes forged into the shank, with "Chrome Vanadium Steel" and the fractional sizes forged into the back side.

The overall length is 7.6 inches. The finish appears to be nickel plating, with extensive losses due to wear.


Wilde 1720 9/32x11/32 Ignition Wrench

[Wilde 1720 9/32x11/32 Ignition Wrench]
Fig. 16. Wilde 1720 9/32x11/32 Ignition Wrench.

Fig. 16 shows a Wilde 1720 9/32x11/32 ignition wrench, marked with the company name, model, and fractional sizes.

The overall length is 3.5 inches, and the finish is black oxide.


Contract Production


Production for Craftsman

Wilde production for Craftsman was generally marked with a "P" in a circle as a manufacturer's code, and this code can be used to identify items made by Wilde when the typical rope-banded gripping pattern is not in use. The next several figures show examples of Craftsman pliers with the rope banding pattern on the handles, all presumed to be contract production by Wilde.


Craftsman 11 Inch Waterpump Pliers

[Craftsman 11 Inch Waterpump Pliers]
Fig. 17. Craftsman 11 Inch Waterpump Pliers, with Inset for Handle Pattern, ca. 1960s.

Fig. 17 shows a recent pair of Craftsman 11 inch waterpump pliers with a rope-banded gripping pattern. The handles of these pliers have a forged-in "P" code on the inside, identified as the manufacturer's code for Wilde.

The overall length is 10.8 inches.

The pliers are marked with the Craftsman double-line logo, but no model number is marked. Model numbers were generally marked on Craftsman tools after the late 1960s to early 70s, so these pliers were probably made in the 1960s.


Craftsman 10 Inch Tongue-and-Groove Waterpump Pliers

[Craftsman 10 Inch Tongue-and-Groove Waterpump Pliers]
Fig. 18. Craftsman 10 Inch Tongue-and-Groove Waterpump Pliers, with Insets for Handle and "P" Code, ca. 1960-1969.

Fig. 18 shows a pair of Craftsman 10 inch tongue-and-groove waterpump pliers with a rope-banded gripping pattern, marked with the Craftsman double-line logo, but without a model number.

The overall length is 10.0 inches.

The left inset shows the forged-in "P" code on the inside of the handles, the Craftsman manufacturer's code for Wilde.

The tongue-and-groove design dates back to the classic 1934 patent #1,950,362 by the Champion DeArment (now Channellock) company.


Craftsman 6.5 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers

[Craftsman 6.5 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers]
Fig. 19. Craftsman 6.5 Inch Slip-Joint Combination Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 19 shows a pair of Craftsman slip-joint combination pliers with the rope banding pattern, stamped with the double-line logo and a small "P" code near the pivot, and with "Alloy Steel" forged into the underside of the handles.

The overall length is 6.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The lower inset shows the forged-in "P" code on the inside of the handles, the manufacturer's code for Wilde.


Craftsman Snap-Ring Pliers

[Craftsman Snap-Ring Pliers]
Fig. 20. Craftsman Snap-Ring Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 20 shows a pair of Craftsman snap-ring specialty pliers with rope-banded handles, stamped with the Craftsman double-line logo and "USA", and with a small "P" in a circle code.

The overall length is 9.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The lower inset shows the forged-in "P" code on the inside of the handles, the manufacturer's code for Wilde.


Craftsman "P-Circle" Wrenches

Although relatively rare, Wilde also produced wrenches for the Craftsman line. The next several figures show examples of wrenches in the modern raised-panel style, but marked with a "P-Circle" manufacturer's code for Wilde rather than the more common "V" code.

The "P-Circle" wrenches are nearly identical to the more common "V" code examples from the same era, indicating that both manufacturers must have been working from the same specification. We believe these examples are historically significant as proof that Sears Roebuck designed the specifications for its modern wrench line, and then commissioned at least two manufacturers (Moore Drop Forging and Wilde Tool) to produce them. More discussion of this interesting aspect of Craftsman history can be found in our article on Craftsman Maker "V".


Craftsman "P-Circle" 19/32x25/32 Offset Box Wrench

[Craftsman P-Circle 19/32x25/32 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 21. Craftsman "P-Circle" 19/32x25/32 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Back Side Detail, ca. 1945.

Fig. 21 shows a Craftsman 19/32x25/32 offset box wrench, stamped with the Craftsman double-line logo on the raised panel, and with a P-Circle mark forged into the shank.

The back side is stamped "Forged in U.S.A." on the panel with an "N4" code forged into the shank.

The overall length is 10.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel with traces of cadmium plating.


Craftsman "P-Circle" 5/8x3/4 Offset Box Wrench

[Craftsman P-Circle 5/8x3/4 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 22. Craftsman "P-Circle" 5/8x3/4 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Back Side Detail, ca. 1945.

Fig. 22 shows a Craftsman 5/8x3/4 offset box wrench, stamped with the Craftsman double-line logo on the raised panel, and with a P-Circle mark forged into the shank.

The back side is stamped "Forged in U.S.A." with a "2" forged into the shank.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Craftsman "P-Circle" 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench

[Craftsman P-Circle 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 23. Craftsman "P-Circle" 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Back Side Detail, ca. 1945.

Fig. 23 shows a Craftsman 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench, stamped with the Craftsman double-line logo on the raised panel, with "Forged in U.S.A." on the back side panel. The back side is also marked with an "N4" code and a P-Circle mark forged into the shank.

The overall length is 5.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


Craftsman "P-Circle" 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench

[Craftsman P-Circle 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 24. Craftsman "P-Circle" 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Back Side, ca. 1945.

Fig. 24 shows a Craftsman 5/8x3/4 open-end wrench with raised panels, stamped with the Craftsman double-line logo on the front panel, with "Forged in U.S.A." on the back side panel. The back side is also marked with an "N4" code and a P-Circle mark forged into the shank.

The overall length is 8.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with extensive pitting due to rust.


Craftsman "P-Circle" 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench

[Craftsman P-Circle 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 25. Craftsman "P-Circle" 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Back Side Detail, ca. 1945.

Fig. 25 shows a Craftsman 25/32x13/16 open-end wrench with raised panels, stamped with the Craftsman double-line logo on the front panel, with "Forged in U.S.A." on the back side panel.

The back side is also marked with an "E3" code and a P-Circle mark forged into the shank.

The overall length is 8.5 inches, and the finish is cadmium (or possibly zinc) plating.


Production for Sexauer

Wilde Tool produced pliers for the "Sexauer" brand, which is believed to refer to the JA Sexauer Manufacturing Company, a maker of plumbing supplies and repair parts. The JA Sexauer Manufacturing Company was established in 1921 in New York City, and remained in operation at least into the 1970s.

The logo "Make Tight Stax" appears to have been registered as a trademark in both the United States and Canada. (A 1924 reference to the registration with the Canadian Patent Office was found.)


Sexauer 8 Inch Angle-Nose (Wrench) Pliers

[Sexauer 8 Inch Wrench Pliers]
Fig. 26. Sexauer 8 Inch Wrench Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1930s to 1940s.

Fig. 26 shows a pair of Sexauer 8 inch wrench pliers, stamped with "Sexauer" and a "Make Tight Stax" logo, with "USA&CAN" below. The handles are also marked with "Alloy Steel" forged into the undersides.

The overall length is 8.3 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The slip-joint mechanism provides three adjustment positions.

These pliers are very similar to the Wilde 8 Inch Wrench Pliers shown in a previous figure.


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