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Daniel Charles Stillson was born in Durham, New Hampshire on March 25, 1826. After a relatively undistinguished career, he served as a machinist in the Union navy during the American Civil War, and afterwards lived in Massachusetts, moving around a few times before settling in Cambridgeport, suburb of Cambridge. He continued to work as a machinist, and while work for the J. J. Walworth Company there he invented his famous pipe wrench. Patent number 95,744 was issued on October 12, 1869, and was immediately successful. His design went on to become the most successful pipe wrench in history, is still in widespread use today and is produced (with minor variations) by dozens of manufacturers all over the world. These wrenches are universally known as Stillsons, which has given Their inventor a kind of immortality enjoyed by few men.

This ten inch example, which is very true to the original design, was either made by, or made for and branded as, Stanley. It carries the famous Sweetheart logo, in its third form, which dates it to between 1923 and 1935. It is in fine working condition, and I still personally use it on a regular basis.

While Mr. Stillson was paid over $80,000 in royalties for his patent during his lifetime (he lived another 30 years until August 1899), it is interesting to note that in today’s world, his employer would have owned his invention and he would most likely have received nothing for it.

Daniel Charles Stillson