A mini adjustable wrench (or spanner)

This is a cool little tool made by Abingdon King Dick, a Birmingham company (founded in 1856). It is a handy adjustable wrench made for use with motorcycles, and cars. Four inches in length, it has a certain heft, adjusted using a straight-knurled knob in the central part of the wrench. The adjusts a screw threaded stem, which in turn moves the jaw of the adjustable wrench.

The wrench has a number of markings, denoting the number, No. 765509, and “WAR FINISH”, implying it was made during the war years (WW1 vs WW2?). The spanner itself seems to have been based on a US patent by Charles E. Billings, for “Improvements in Wrenches”, awarded in 1879.  The “WAR FINISH” likely indicated that it was one of few tools sold to the public during the war, the remainder of resources/production being geared towards the armed forces. It likely entailed a lower quality finish, i.e. rough sanding, and no plating or extra buffing/polishing. This may also have been stamped to indicate that “usually the tool has a better quality finish”.

This wrench was often supplied  in different sizes  in tool rolls for cars such as those built by the Austin Motor Co. – this site shows the various tool kits for the Austin Seven built from 1923-1939.

Patent Info:

  • The original adjustable wrench awarded to Charles E. Billings, in 1879 (US 212,298)
  • A patent for an adjustable wrench in which the lower jaw was adjusted by means of a “milled nut and screwed rod”  was awarded to Abingdon-Ecco in 1909 (GB 19,863).
  • A patent for an improved adjustment mechanism was awarded to James William Reynolds of Wolverhampton in 1920 (GB 144,943).

And if you are interested in collecting adjustable spanners, here is an excellent book on the subject.


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