Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Brief History of the Collins Axe Company

For a while now I’ve wanted to look into companies that are still manufacturing axes and trace their history. The reason is that many companies have been bought, resold, and worked in collaboration with other manufacturers. As a result, the products have often varied accordingly. When trying to select a tool, those can be important considerations.

In 1826 three men, Samuel w. Collins, David C. Collins and William Wells, formed an axe manufacturing business under the name Collins & Co. They opened a manufacturing facility in South Canton, Connecticut by the Tunxis River. In 1830, the village where the factory was located was renamed Collinsville, and the river was renamed to the Farmington River.

The location for manufacturing was chosen because of the readily available high quality iron produced by a local company, Watkinson & Co. The company made a wide variety of edged tools in addition to axes. The axes gained a particularly high reputation, and were well finished and ready to use out of the box.

In 1834 the company had to reorganize due to financial difficulties, and began functioning under the name The Collins Manufacturing Co., even further expanding its product line. The company was again reorganized in 1843 as The Collins Company.

The Collins Company continued to expand its market into South America providing tools specially designed for the region, and printing labels in both English and Spanish. The company continued to mark its products by stamping them with the Collins & Co. label, even after the company name changes.

The company continued to function until 1966, when it was bought out by Mann Edge Tool Co. of Lewistown, Pennsylvania, another reputable axe manufacturer. Mann Edge Tool Co. continued to manufacture Collins axes under the Collins Axe division. Axe production continued until 2003.

In 2004 the Collins Axe division was bought by Truper Herramientas, a company based in Mexico. Truper Herramientas continues to produce Collins axes.

Some brands produced by Collins over the years include:

Old Timer
Red Seal
Collins Bonded Axe-
this was advertised as the highest quality axe produced by the company.
Hercules-produced mostly for wholesale hardware catalogs.
Red Knight-produced mostly for wholesale hardware catalogs.
Fleetwood-produced mostly for wholesale hardware catalogs.
Collins Kromite/Choprite-produced for large scale distributers.
Rayo-manufactured mostly for the Latin America market.
Luchador/Luctador-manufactured mostly for the Latin America market
El Martillo-manufactured mostly for the Latin America market
Legitimus-this is a brand used by Collins on a wide range of their products. It most often appears in connection with the crown and hammer design. It is one of the best known markers for Collins, although it is not related to any one specific design or model.