Rock Island Manufacturing Co.


Rock Island, IL - The Trowel and Masonry Tool Collector Site has an extensive and detailed history of this company.  From the above referenced site:

Rock Island Manufacturing Co., located in Rock Island, IL, was organized in 1906 by Frank G. Young, C.J. Larkin, and Carl E. Shields. Rock Island's products included vises for machine shop and foundry use, power grinders, grist grinders, stock waterers, and cement tools. Rock Island took over the vise business of Jacobson Machine Manufacturing Co., Warren, PA, giving them a start in the business. By 1913, their principals were Carl E. Shields, President, S.E. Hamilton, Superintendent, and Oscar J. Shields, Special Representative.

To clarify the above, this article from the March, 1907 edition of Industrial Development and  Manufacturer's Record specifies that Rock Island will take over Vise production only, not the entirety of the Jacobson line.  Below is an article on a Jacobson Vise.  A newspaper article from February 1, 1907 notes the formation of the Rock Island Tool Company and names the same officers / founders as above.

A newspaper article from October, 1911 notes that the Rock Island Manufacturing Company was recently reorganized.  They were previously know as the Rock Island Tool Company.

Based on patent assignment information as can be seen below, it appears Birtman Electric Co. acquired Rock Island Mfg. in early - mid 1933.

Trade Names and Brands from Trade Publications:

  • Rock Island (Bench, Bench & Pipe, Machinist, Pipe, Saw, Swivel, Toolmakers, Woodworkers)

​Carl E. Shields Patents

Warren U. Botsford Patent #1,903,163 - Vise Display Stand - Assigned to Rock Island Mfg. Co. - 3/28/1933

​William A. Rankin Patent #1,109,120 - Sivel Base Construction - Assigned to Birtman Electric Co. 3/14/1933

Ray M. Nelson Patent #2,485,641 - Screw operated vise having a toothed nut and displaceable ratchet for quick opening - Assigned to Birtman Electric - 10/25/1949

Ray M. Nelson Patent @2,471,444 - Base Lock For Vises - Assigned to Birtman Electric - 5/31/1949


View Reference: 
Image Description: 

Jacobson Vise article from the June 12, 1902 edition of American Machinist

Image 2 Description: 

Newspaper advertisement from 11/1912

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