Crescent Wrenches A to Z

Collection of crescent wrenches runs an alphabetical gamut.

| June 2016

When it comes to old iron, wrenches might just be the key to the hobby. Tractors, engines, combines, implements – all required wrenches from time to time. And not just any wrench would do. Each piece, in fact, was generally sold with a set of wrenches tailored to its unique construction.

Today, those wrenches are highly collectible. A hot category within the tool hobby, wrenches are further subdivided by size, type and function. Joe Greiwe, Batesville, Indiana, has spent the last 35 years building a collection of more than 3,000 wrenches. A big part of that is his display of 4-inch crescent-style, quick-adjust wrenches. “I feel like I have one of the largest displays of those around,” he says. “I have 309 brand names and 515 total, representing early and late models.”

Unique adjustment mechanisms

A retired carpenter, Joe has long collected tools. When he’d buy boxes of stray items at auctions, he often found wrenches in the bottom. As they piled up in a corner of his garage, he gave them a closer look. Fascinated by the varied adjustment mechanisms, he began to build a collection.

Joe finds crescent-style wrenches uniquely appealing, more so than any other tool. “Every wrench usually has a unique adjustment,” he says. “And there are so many categories: alligator, quick-adjust, implement wrenches and combination wrenches, just to name a few.”

The modern crescent-style wrench owes its development to inventor J.P. Johansson, Enkoping, Sweden, who won a patent for the first crescent-style wrench in 1892. In the U.S., Crescent Tool Co. did not build a crescent-style wrench until 1907. “A lot of people think Crescent built the first crescent wrench,” Joe says. “In fact, theirs is a copy of Johansson’s 1892 wrench.”

Wrenches from the farm

Recently, implement wrenches have become a hot item. “They’ve really taken off,” Joe says. “Years ago, all farm equipment came with a couple of wrenches that would fit every bolt on the piece.” More than a few wrench collectors delve into the history of the manufacturer. Some even find the specific piece of equipment that went with the wrench, and use that in their displays.