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A lot of my research is done on Saturdays – and the object of today’s research was this variant on the classic Stanley No. 7 ‘Blind Man’ rule (so called because the larger, bolder type makes it easier to read for those with fading vision (or for those still working on the job site as the daylight turns to twilight!).
The No. 7 is a two foot four fold rule, boxwood and brass, of relatively simple (and cheap) construction. It entered the Stanley line in 1900, and was one of very few traditional boxwood rules that carried forward past the end of WWII, finally being discontinued in 1955. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – in which case, Stanley must have felt really good, because this (alongside the No. 68) was one of their mostly widely copied designs.
This example is distinctly different from all others I have seen, in that the characteristically bold numbering is in red. It is marked with ‘No. 7’ and ‘UNION HARDWARE CO.’ The quality of manufacture is at least the equal of the Stanley’s in my collection – many of the cheaper copies used thin or badly chosen wood (sometimes even maple rather than box) and flimsy brass components, which meant they did not stand up well to the rigors of a working life.
At first glance, I assumed that this was the same ‘UNION’ acquired by Stanley in 1920 – but that was the Union Manufacturing Co., of New Britain, CT, and they made chucks, planes and shaves. Then I thought that it was the ‘UNION’ that was acquired by Millers Falls in 1957, but although that company did make rules, it was called the Union Tool Company, of Orange, MA. I chased down over a dozen different ‘UNION’s before I came across one reference to a Union Hardware Co. of Torrington, CT, which apparently made rules. I’m guessing that’s the one, but I’m by no means certain, which brings me to your Mystery Handtool Challenge. Bragging rights will be awarded to the first person who can confirm (or disprove) that I got it right, and provide a little historical context for the firm.