Friday, December 14, 2012

Tool History; William Bernard

William Bernard was an innovative tool maker and inventor. Mr. Bernard was born in 1848 in Lynchburg, Virginia. After working as a machinist making tools in several east coast areas, he settled in New Haven, Connecticut in 1890 where he would work with, and later purchase his share of the William Schollhorn Manufacturing Company, which was initially founded 1870. Mr. Bernard would go on to career which included more than 100 patented inventions to his credit. At some point, William Schollhorn Company was purchased by Sargent Manufacturing Company, making the Schollhorn Company the hand tool division of Sargent. Rostra Tool purchased the hand tool division of Sargent, and is still the owner today. Rostra proudly acknowledges it's history on their website. Outside of his work, William Bernard was a member of the Episcopal and politically independent.

Mr. William Bernard's most significant innovation is the Bernard Parallel Action Pliers, patent #427220 submitted on May 6, 1890. This parallel action plier was not only a significant invention in itself but would also be the base from which Mr. Bernard would add on many other patents as well. On the plier above, there are 3 additional patent dates. Patent #479113 submitted July 19, 1892 is for the cutter on the side, and patents 848877 (April 2, 1907) and 1064956 (June 17, 1913) are concerning the technology used to make the handles. Perhaps what amazes me the most is that the main design, patented over 120 years ago is still being manufactured today.

William Schollhorn Company History
Sargent Tools (Rostra) still manufactures these pliers to this day
patent #427220
Patent #479113
Patent #848877
Patent #1064956
Bernard, William A. Dec. 13, 2013


  1. from the Netherlands, I looked on the internet for more information about the Bernard pliers, I found this blog.The tool comes from my grandfathers toolbox, 40 jrs ago and I still use it, a fine tool to me.Indeed amazing that the concept is still in use.
    greetings from the Netherland, Dirk

  2. I agree with ya Dick as I did the same thing. I got mine at a yard sale for $2 10 years ago and it works 100% and made of some super steel. Researching the name I was just wanting to find a value or date of manufacturing and this info on this site is just perfect! Jerry

  3. Hello, I'm in London - England, i have exact same tool as above, (found at a yard sale too, £2) but mine is stamped "AM" with a crown above and "1940" below.
    This is an acceptance stamp for "Air Ministry" and date of acceptance, the Air Ministry procured items for use by The Royal Air Force, only sourcing the very best available, even in war time. I've stripped them down, cleaned reassembled with a thin film of oil, good for another 75+ years. I have a few other pairs of Bernard pliers, not same as these though.