Billings & Spencer

The Roper Sporting Arms Company was established on March 3, 1869 by Charles Billings and Charles Spencer.

On July 23rd, 1872 the State Legislature of Connecticut approved the reformation of the Roper Sporting Arms Company as the Billings and Spencer Company.  The entirety of the record can be found here.

This blurb from the Scientific American in the September 7, 1872 edition clearly identifies the company as Billings & Spencer and references the production rate of 25,000 steel shuttles for sewing machines.

This is a very intriguing article from the May, 1874 edition of "The Manufacturer and Builder" publication explaining the innovations in iron and steel production methods by the Roper Sporting Arms Company.  The article appears to be a follow-up piece from an as yet undiscovered 1872 article.  This article also has many illustrations of the different items produced by the company during that time.

Billings & Spencer began as a partnership of Mssrs. Billings and Spencer, along with 2 investors, purchasing the works and patents of the Roper Repeating Arms Company of Amherst Massachusetts in January of 1869.  As President and Superintendent, the group chose Mr. Billings.  Very soon after, in August of 1869, the company moved it's operations to Hartford, Connecticut.  Mr. Billings realized he had more than enough equipment capacity to keep up with firearms orders and consequently, turned his attention to drop forgings.  The company thrived under his leadership, producing Billings' patented sewing machine shuttle, tools, fixtures and parts for machines.  Before long, the company abandoned the manufacture of firearms altogether and focused on drop forgings.  By 1872, they purchased the entire facility they had previously been renting half of, and in July of 1873, reorganized as the Billings & Spencer Company.  This paragraph of information comes from New England Manufacturers and Manufactories by J. D. Van Slyck, published 1879, specifically the biography of Charles Ethan Billings.

The Connecticut Historical Society also has a brief history of Billings & Spencer on their website.

On 26 September, 1962 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette announces the acquisition of Billings & Spencer by the Crescent Niagra group. 

Effective 2 January, 1963, Billings & Spencer sold it's drop forging operations to Moore Drop Forge.

Charles E. Billings Biography

The Billings & Spencer Co. (Hartford, CT) Sub Brands / Trade Names / Trademarks

  • Life-Time (First Use 4/1/1926)
  • B inside Triangle
  • B & S (Adjustable Wrenches, Pliers)
  • BILLINGS (All Tools) (First Use 4/1/1926)
  • Billings Improved (Adjustable Wrenches)
  • Hayden (Pliers - Slip joint combos)
  • Vitalloy (Wrenches) (First Use 10/5/1937)
  • Gardnerench (Wrenches) (First Use 3/29/1935)

   Contract Production For:

  • Craftsman - Craftsman Vanadium Steel / Chrome-Vanadium (Wrenches)
  • Mack (Wrenches)
  • Draper (Wrenches)

Key Tool Stamping Terms (stamped/forged into tools):

  • DUO-FORGED
  • Chrome Molybdenum

Billings & Spencer Patents

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Plombob's picture

An example of the Billings Vitalloy wrench

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