BONNEY TOOLS HISTORY
Inventor Charles S. Bonney founded the Bonney Vise & Tool Works in 1876 Philadelphia. Approximately in 1906, the Company moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania. Their first products were vises, pipe wrenches and monkey wrenches with a few others. As their product mix changed and subsequent growth, the Company’s name was later changed to Bonney Forge and Tool Works.
In the post World War I era, alloy steel was highly prized and Bonney was at the forefront, among others, of this tool design using alloy steel. Business was good during the Roaring Twenties and they had a full line of mechanic’s tools by the 1930s. In the late 1930s, the Company coined the term “Bonalloy” for their chrome vanadium alloy tools. Another tough alloy was developed and called “Zenel” for their best quality tools. So it is apparent that Bonney was a true designer, toolmaker and supplier of tools.
Around the mid-1950s Miller Manufacturing of Detroit acquired Bonney. Miller was also in the automotive industry so the marriage worked well. Bonney built a new factory in Alliance, Ohio and produced both Bonney and Miller branded tools.
Then in 1964, Utica Tools (Division of Kelsey-Hayes Corporation) purchased Bonney and became one part of three toolmakers, Bonney, Utica and Herbrand under the Kelsey-Hayes umbrella. All three companies shared the same factory in Orangeburg, South Carolina, thought to be the largest at the time. Then in 1967, the Triangle Corporation purchased all three companies and remained there until Cooper Tools acquired them.
Bonney Tools are probably best known for their excellent quality wrenches, as well as the feel they have in your hands. They tend to get sold quicker than most other brands.
At some point in the early to mid-1990s Bonney Tools ceased to exist. So if you ever see one of their top quality tools, then you can be sure it was made at least in 1990s or earlier. I have several in the tool catalog that have never been used. The main reason is that a local company found a pallet load of new Bonney Tools in some corner of a warehouse in 2010. These tools are definitely collectable and prices may increase as demand exceeds the limited supply.