Prentiss Vise Company

Research continues on this company but it appears to have been formed by Mason Prentiss, probably around 1868.  Mason Prentiss passed away on 9/10/1881.

We should note here that our research indicates that the address commonly used for Prentiss, 23 Dey St., New York, was almost certainly an office building.  We find scores of companies throughout the late 1800s utilizing that address, including Prentiss, Hall Mfg., Lewis Tool, etc.

The first time John E. Mulford is mentioned in the New York directories as "President, 23 Dey St." is 1875.  Neither Mulford nor Lewis are mentioned in earlier New York Directories.

According to this newspaper clipping from the October 17, 1895 edition of the Montour Falls Free Press, almost all models of Prentiss vises are produced at Watertown, presumably by The Bagley & Sewall Company as noted below.  One exception noted is the Gipsy vise, produced by the Havana Bridge Company of Montour Falls.  Aside from Mr. Mulford, the article also notes Mortimer G. Lewis as a principal of the company.  Readers should note this name as a prolific vise inventor, and founder of the Lewis Tool Co.

In addition to the above manufacturing note, the 1/5/1895 edition of the Star-Gazette of Elmira, NY notes that S. R. Van Campen as leased the W. H. Shephard & Sons bridge works in order to fill a large order from the Prentice (spelled this way in article) Vise Company, of which Gen. Mulford is President.

This March, 1904 edition of Polks (Trow's) New York Co-Partnership and Corporation Directory has John E. Mulford as President, Edwin H. Milford as Sec.  The directors are the aforementioned, and Mortimer G. Lewis.  The 1902 edition lists the same officers and directors.

According to Through Eleven Decades of History: Watertown, a History from 1800 to 1912 By Joel Henry Monroe, The Bagley & Sewall Company in Watertwon, NY (Bagley & Sewall History) has been producing iron workers and woodworkers vises for the Prentiss Vise Company for 36 years under contract.  This would take the Prentiss Vise Company back to at least 1876.

In addition, this April, 1879 edition of American Machinist reports that Hall Manufacturing has re-tooled its factory to produce Prentiss vises.

In the December, 1921 edition of Factory: The Magazine of Management, there is an advertisement for Prentiss.  In the advertisement text, the company asserts: "Many of the vises we made 53 years ago are still in use."  This would date the company founding to at least 1868.  Given the patent date on Mason Prentiss' first vise patent, this date makes the most sense.

This snippet from the 1925 edition of Railway Locomotives & Cars announces the acquisition of the Henry Cheney Hammer Co. by Prentiss.

This snippet from the April 1948 edition of Modern Machine Shop shows that by that time, Prentiss was a division of the Charles Parker Co.

On 29 May 1957, The Bridgeport Post reports that the stockholders of the Charles Parker Company (which includes Prentiss at this time) have voted to sell 75% of company stock to the Union Manufacturing Company of New Britain.  Publications from the 1960's list both Parker and Prentiss as Division of Union Mfg. Co.

Some names and models of Prentiss vises (From Trade Magazine Categories):

  • 20th Century (Pipe)
  • Rapid Transit (Machinist)
  • Anchor (sometimes referred to as the Anchor Line) (Machinist, Bench)
  • Bingham (Jaw Caps)
  • Blake (Pipe, Bench & Pipe)
  • BULL DOG (Woodworker, Bench, Machinist) (First Use 1886)
  • Challenge Pipe Grip
  • Eclipse (Wrench)
  • Gipsy (Bench)
  • Lewis (Bench, Machinist)
  • MAGIC (Pipe)
  • Malleable (Bench)
  • Monarch (Bench & Pipe, Machinist, Pipe, Woodworker) (First Use "about 1902)

  • "Peerless" swivel pipe grip - adapts to any vise
  • Prentiss - text in an arch (Vises) (First Use 1/1/1877)

  • P V Co.
  • Rapid Transit (Machinist, Bench)
  • Rex (Bench & Pipe)
  • Sampson
  • Shepard (Woodworker, Pipe, Bench, Drilling Attachment)
  • Star (Bench)
  • Triple Ser-Vise
  • Yankee (Bench)

Prentiss Vise Co Assigned Patents from Google

Mortimer G. Lewis (see first paragraph) Patents from Google.

Mason Prentiss Patents:

Patents Assigned to Prentiss Vise Company:

Charles Darwin Bingham:

Eli Zimmerman - Patent #713,038 - Vise (not in DATAMP)

John A Blake - Patent #742,281 - Woodworkers' Vise (not in DATAMP)

John A Blake - Patent #590,385 - Pipe/Rod Vise (not in DATAMP)

Charles Foster Blake - Patent #1,586,959 - Vise Shaft Collar (not in DATAMP)

Patent #498,288 - Bench Vise, John E. Mulford - 1893 (Not in DATAMP

James Kenney - Patent #418,521 - Wrench Attachment - Assigned to Prentiss Vise Co.

John A. Blake - Patent #396,066 - Vise - Assigned to Prentiss Vise Co.

According to vise collectors, this patent, Patent #187,131 Feb 6, 1877 James F. Hall / Elbert P. Cook Improvement in Vises, was used on Prentiss vises for many years.

Vise Trademarks

  • Prentiss - (Arched Text) 1930 Renewal (First Use Reported: 1/1/1877)
  • Bull Dog (Term) 1910 original filing (First Use Reported: 1886)
  • Unknown - 1910 - The document shows no mark but this is the original Trademark for the Prentiss Arched Text.
  • Unknown - 1930 Renewal of Bull Dog TM
  • Magic - 1912 (Vises) (First Use May, 1911)
  • Monarch (Bench & Pipe, Machinist, Pipe, Woodworker) (First Use "about 1902)

Other Resources Found:

-- This text comes from a history being compiled on the Cheney Hammer Co. at

***NOTE*** Based on some of the indicators / references above, I'm not sure I agree with the founding members assertion nor the 1877 date made here.

Elmer Sidway Mulford was born on November 8th in New York City. His father Edwin H. Mulford (5 Nov 1854 - 23 Aug 1945) was Secretary, Treasurer and Director of the Prentiss Vise Company. His Grandfather, Brevet Brigadier General John E. Mulford (26 Feb 1829 - 18 Oct 1908) was the President and Director of the Prentiss Vise Company. This company was organized by John and Edwin in Montour Falls, NY in 1877. It appears that they had acquired the Hall Manufacturing Company, who employed Mason Prentiss, who held US Patent 75,576, issued March 17, 1868 for a bench vise. Prentiss Vises were manufactured by Bagley & Sewall in Watertown, NY. Edwin, Elmer and the Prentiss Vise Company will become central to the Henry Cheney Hammer Company in 1925 and remain so through the end of both companies.

On June 23, 1925 at 12 noon, the Prentiss Vise Company completed the purchase of the Henry Cheney Hammer Company. Elmer Mulford moved to Little Falls and became the Secretary and Treasurer of the Cheney Hammer division. Edwin H. Mulford was President. Advertisements proclaim Cheney Hammers as “World’s Standard Since 1836.” At this time the company employed 75 people.


View Reference: 


In the refererence to SR Van Campen leasing the bridgeworks of WH Shephard & Son to fill a contract for Prentiss, you have spelled it with only one 'h' - Shepard. 

Edit - I guess it's spelled wrong in the original document - 'Prentice,' too.

Todd Werts's picture

Thanks for the tip!  Fixed it.