Wrench Collecting Gives Bountiful Harvest

Tool collector turns to wrench collecting with great results


| March 2000



Among the rare pieces in Joe Greiwe's collection is a set of key model Coe's monkey wrenches

Among the rare pieces in Joe Greiwe's collection is a set of key model Coe's monkey wrenches (shown above in the stand at front) in three sizes: 32", 38" and 48". "The 48-inch is very rare, very hard to find," Joe said. "I never dreamed I would ever get a 48-inch. But I found it just 12 miles away from home." The wrenches were patented Dec. 6, 1906.

Photo by Bob Crowell

Joe Greiwe collects gas engines, brass anvil paperweights, molding planes, carpenter's tools, spark plugs and vintage advertising materials. But it's the lowly wrench that's put the grip on the Batesville, Ind., man. 

"I was a tool collector," he said, "but the wrench collection has overtaken that. They're just so unique in their operating mechanism."

Joe's collection – somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 wrenches – reflects the hobby's unlimited scope.

"The reason wrench collecting is so interesting is that between 1830 and 1905, there were 3,300 patents issued on adjustable wrenches alone," he said. "The field is so big; it's just a never-ending search."

Adding interest to the search is the fact that many of the patented wrenches were manufactured in exceedingly small numbers.

Joe, who worked nearly 40 years as a carpenter and superintendent, knows a little bit about hand tools. "I have a few that nobody's ever seen before," he said.