Please note

Because of the lack of published trowel and masonry tool histories, the information here is based on other sources that may be less reliable and certainly are incomplete. These include eBay and tools that I purchase myself that are the starting points for my research. I will write what I know as I learn it. If what you read here interests you, please check back often and look for revisions and corrections. Scanned catalogs are either mine or by Rose Antique Tools and used with permission, and are on Google Docs as pdf files. A few are links to other websites. Your photos and information are welcome. Please click on any picture to enlarge it. Comments are welcome, but any with links will be deleted as possible spam.

Monday, July 4, 2016

History of Vlchek Tool Co.

Vlchek Tool Co. of Cleveland, Ohio is best-known for wrenches and its private-label manufacturing of Craftsman hand tools for Sears & Roebuck. Frank J. Vlchek (born František J. Vlček 4 Jan. 1871, died 10 June 1947) began in 1895 "making and sharpening tools for stonecutters and masons. By 1909 the firm was shipping hammers, wrenches, and stone cutters' tools throughout the country." Brick hammers and scutches continued to be part of Vlchek's product line until the end. The 1907 advertisement shows an F.J. VLCHEK stamp, and later tools are stamped VLCHEK.

As his business grew, Frank Vlchek was able to streamline his production lines to produce good quality tools at the lowest cost. This efficiency was the key to his success with Sears, auto makers and other large buyers. In 1959 Vlchek Tool Co. was sold to Pendleton Tool Industries Co., which merged with Ingersoll-Rand in 1964. In 1969 Ingersoll closed Vlchek's E. 87th plant, laying off 275 employees.

Vlchek's shops and plants were at these Cleveland addresses:
The Bricklayer, Mason & Plasterer, 1907
279 Lincoln Ave., occupation listed as tool dresser in 1896
1537 Central Ave., built in 1903, street was later renumbered
8017-8023 Central Ave. in 1909
10709 Quincy Ave., Google Street View below
1950 West 12th St., land purchased in 1917
3001 East 87th St.

The site Alloy Artifacts has a detailed history of Vlchek.

Vlchek 24 oz brick hammer HL240

Vlchek brick hammers 1938

Building Age, 1917
Remains of 10709 Quincy Ave. plant

Vlchek's last plant, 3001 East 87th St.

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