Collecting Antique Wrenches A Welcome Diversion

Collector Don Lux likes challenge of collecting antique wrenches

| January 2001

  • Don Lux with a wrench for a 1941 single cylinder IH engine
    Don Lux with a wrench for a 1941 single cylinder IH engine. The wrench was used to adjust the rod bearings. It came with the engine; all letters are visible on the wrench. In the background: a few of his 1,000 wrenches.
  • Fully one-third of all wrenches are
    Fully one-third of all wrenches are "s"-shaped, as they are easier for workers to use, and safer. These are difficult-to-find Champion wrenches.
  • One of a set of four monkey wrenches
    One of a set of four monkey wrenches manufactured on Sept. 7, 1897 for IH, McCormick, Osborne and Deering. Don hopes to get all four.
  • IH wrenches
    The red wrench is an IH wrench, with IHC stamping. The dark wrench is identical, made by IH, but for another company, and without any identification marks.

  • Don Lux with a wrench for a 1941 single cylinder IH engine
  • Fully one-third of all wrenches are
  • One of a set of four monkey wrenches
  • IH wrenches

During the past three years, collecting antique wrenches has really taken off, says Don Lux of Janesville, Wis. "Wrenches have come a long ways," the 69-year-old former International Harvester plant worker says, "and that includes the price. Everybody is after them now. Like the Oliver wrenches. I've only seen seven or eight of them in my lifetime, and two of those were the other day at a flea market, where they wanted $100 and $120 for them."

Don got started collecting antique wrenches on a lark, while serving as vice president and president of his local thresheree.

"I was involved running the show for so long that I wasn't able to do much with any of the IH tractors I've bought, fixing them up or showing them," he says. "But one day I thought I should have some fun sometimes, too, and since we had eight or ten wrenches around here from years and years ago, I got the urge to clean them up and show them."

Next thing he knew, he was going to community auctions, rummage sales, and wherever he could to pick up wrenches.

"I used to work for IH, so I was trying to see how many IH wrenches I could get," he says. He discovered he couldn't always buy only the IH wrench he wanted at an estate sale, for example, but would have to buy all the wrenches as a lot. That way, he always got half a dozen other kinds of wrenches.

Within three years he had 400 antique wrenches; today more than a thousand.


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