Well I know it hasn't been a whole month yet since the last one, but the weather outside isn't very nice, and the wife and kids are off shopping, so... The Thomas Mfg Co / Clark & Crume patent / Combination Tool
At the turn of the previous century, The Thomas Manufacturing Company of Dayton Ohio produced a rather staggering array of different products. The firm had started out in nearby Springfield making bicycles, but by the time they moved to the new plant in Dayton they had added rope making machines, kerosene lamps, butter churns, raincoats, rubber boots, cutlery, and straight razors to their line. Old city records indicate that the firm employed several hundred people at the time. But of particular interest to us, by 1910 and in addition to everything else, they were manufacturing at least three different multi-purpose tools.
We'll save the upper two for a different day, and spend some time looking at the bottom one. The Thomas Mfg company apparently never gave the tool a proper name, but it is referred to by corkscrew collecting fans as "The Clark & Crume patent" tool. This is in reference to the inventors, John M. Clark and John C. Crume, also of Dayton Ohio, and their U.S. patent #760,613. You can check out the details at Google Patents HERE
Clark and Crume's "Combination Tool" itself consists of a number of different functions, most of which are designed for tasks that would normally be encountered in the kitchen. Those big weirdly-shaped jaws for instance, are intended to be used for opening stubborn canning jar lids.
But canning jar lids come in more than one size, so in order to grasp tightly on all size lids, the Combination Tool uses a clever sliding-pivot method to adjust the jaw opening as needed. It works pretty well.
At the end of one plier handle is a cutout made for opening crown style bottle caps. If the cap is crimped on to the bottle too tightly, there is a little pokey tab on the end of the handle to help get the cap started.
Along one side of the tool is a folding can opener blade. To use, the patent text says to first unfold the blade until it comes up against the small tab stamped into the handle:
Then hook the tool beneath the rim of the can and use the blade to pierce the lid. Continue around the can until the lid is cut free. It works - sort of - but not very well.
Also included is a corkscrew, which is housed in the hollow of the stamped-steel handle. It unfolds straight out and wedges into place between two protruding slabs of the handle.
With the corkscrew folded away, the user has a large flat head screwdriver available. The screwdriver blade is a piece of heavier steel, sandwiched between the handle slabs and riveted into place. (circled below) Also within the circle is a small slot, which the inventors claim can be used in place of the standard "key" for opening tins like those used for corned beef or sardines for instance.
Made almost entirely from steel stampings (which were nickel plated for corrosion resistance) and held together by rivets, the Thomas/Combination Tool was certainly not the stoutest tool in the shed.
But then again, as it was intended for light-duty use in the kitchen, perhaps light weight was the overriding design priority..? We'll never know for sure, as sadly, the Thomas Mfg Co did not survive the throes of the 1930's era depression.