by Tom Lamond ©
Established and located in South Canton, Connecticut   
Location name changed to Collinsville, Connecticut  
Remained in Collinsville, Connecticut, until  
Other locations outside of the United States
Relocated to Lewistown, Pennsylvania
(after being purchased by the Mann Edge Tool Co.) 1826-1834
    The year 1826 saw the beginning of what was to become one of the largest axe and edge tool manufacturers in the country as well as the world. The exact details of how the company started may not have been recorded in detail for posterity but it seems that the enterprise started when three men related as brothers and cousins got together and decided to go into business as partners.
    One of the men, William Wells was working for a business by the name of David Watkinson & Co. That business, located in the Farmington Valley in Connecticut, was considered to be a supplier of a superior grade of iron. William Wells had two cousins who were blacksmiths, or directly involved in blacksmithing in the same general area. The names of his cousins were Samuel W. Collins and David C. Collins. They were brothers.
    It has been written that David C. Collins was the one that actually came up with the idea that by using high quality materials including the better quality iron obtainable from Watkinson & Company, quality axes could be produced in a more efficient manner which in turn would permit them to be sold in bulk under wholesale arrangements. The three cousins formed a partnership specifically for that purpose. Then they set up a manufactory in an old mill located on what was at the time the Tunxis River. They named the business Collins & Co.
    The original location was in the town of South Canton. Interestingly the names of both the river and the community were eventually changed. The river was renamed the Farmington River and by the late 1820s or early 1830s the name of the community where the Collins factories were located was changed (by preference of the inhabitants) to the village of Collinsville. It is still part of the town of Canton.  
    Unlike most other makers of the time, Collins & Co. offered their axes sharpened and honed. This meant that Collins axes were ready for use when purchased. Of course that was also determined by whether or not the axe was already handled. In many cases providing a handle was often the responsibility of the distributor or even the end user. Collins provided their axes both ways, even in their early years.
    As time went on the Collins reputation expanded considerably. Their reputation was based on many things and it should be remembered that Collins & Co. also made plows, other edge tools and wrenches as well as iron and steel forgings and castings to order. However, their major product line consisted of axes.
    In 1834 the company succumbed to financial difficulties and was reorganized as The Collins Manufacturing Co., indicating they made considerably more than just axes and plows. After entering into the international market in 1840, their product line expanded even more, especially as they added machetes and other long knives.
    Collins also went on to accept orders for many designs of specialty edge tools, many of which were used for harvesting fruit and other produce. They eventually offered a broad line of axes with a round or oval eye. This style was usually destined for distribution in Central and South America and other areas where providing a handle was closely related to using whatever was readily available without the need for sophisticated shaping.  
    The company was reorganized again in 1843 under the name The Collins Company. Samuel had been removed from the top position in 1834 and had functioned as the superintendent of the works until 1843 when he was reinstated to the top position. He remained in that position until his death in 1871. He was 69 years of age at the time.
    As the years went by, the company’s export business became so important that labels and other markings were modified to include wording in Spanish. That was even noted in trademark documentation such as Registration No. 7,094 dated March 11, 1879. Wording in other languages was added later as the company became involved in exports to locations around the Pacific Rim and other areas.
    That expansion ultimately resulted in serious complications for The Collins Co. as competitors started to use labels strikingly similar to those used by Collins. That situation was addressed in the Declaration accompanying US Trademark Registration No. 8,850 issued on November 15, 1881.  Part of the wording reads ... “that no other person, firm or corporation has the right to such use, either in identical form or in any such resemblance thereto as might be calculated to deceive; that is used in commerce with Great Britain and the British Colonies, Australia and the Cape Colony, with Mexico and the Spanish colonies of Cuba and the West Indies, and with Brazil and the Spanish-American nations of Central and South America...”
  That statement may well have been instrumental in the legal actions eventually brought by Collins against over 40 competitors for trademark infringement.
  One means by which Collins & Co. indicated they were the manufacturer was by stamping the company name on their axes. They also included the word Hartford that was the original location of the office maintained by Samuel Collins, the businessman of the operation. Some years later the company also had an office in New York and that location marking has been reported to have been used on some tools.
   Interestingly, the original company name Collins & Co., continued to be used on many of the company's products, with and without the addition of the distributor names, after the company name changed and was used on some labels and as part of some stampings until the company was liquidated in 1966.    
    That liquidation, in June of 1966, resulted in the four out-of-country manufactories being purchased by The Stanley Works of New Britain, Connecticut. The equipment from Collinsville, along with certain other assets of the company including the company name, was purchased by The Mann Edge Tool Company of Lewistown, Pennsylvania. The Mann Edge Tool Co. and Collins & Co. already had some type of working interaction but that is a story for another time. It should be noted though; that the Mann E. T. Co. established a division called Collins Axe and continued producing axes under that name until 2003.
    During the original life span of the Collins axe making enterprises, the company was located in South Canton / Collinsville, Connecticut but for most of that time they maintained offices in Hartford and later on in New York. In the earlier years a variety of brands and markings associated with the company was introduced. As time went on the company made axes and other edge tools under a wide variety of other brands that were proprietary to other enterprises such as wholesale and retail hardware concerns, catalog houses and some implement companies.
Representation of a stamped marking used on some early Collins & Co. axes and a paper label (below) that was used later.
Representation of an etched marking used after 1878 on better quality Collins axes. The Crown, Arm & Hammer along with the word Legitimus was etched into one face of some axes.
Representation of an etched marking used after 1878 on better quality Collins axes.
Facsimile of a label depicting Trademark Registration No. 24,074, dated Jan. 16, 1894.
Facsimile of label depicted with Trademark Registration No. 7,094, dated Mar. 11, 1879.
Facsimile of label depicted with Trademark Registration No. 6,112 dated May 21, 1878.
In the case of the two labels depicted above, the word AXE was substituted with the name of the specific type of tool on which the label was applied. The Collins signature was used for some time before it actually appeared in a registered trademark.
Facsimile of label depicted with Trademark Registration No. 89,537, dated Dec. 24, 1912.
There were three trademark registrations issued to The Collins Co. for the signature of Sam. W. Collins prior to the actual inclusion of a facsimile of what the signature looked like. That facsimile appeared in Trademark No. 89,538 dated December 24, 1912. The signature was usually combined with other registered trademarks such as the Crown, Arm and Hammer, the word Legitimus and the words Collins and/or Collins & Co.
SAM. W. COLLINS        1826-1966
   Samuel W. Collins was one of the three original partners in Collins & Company. It is said that the idea of forming the company came from David C. Collins but once the business was established Samuel was the top man. That situation applied for the duration of Samuel's life with the exception of between 1834 and 1843 when financial considerations forced the company to reorganize. That resulted in the  company being named The Collins Manufacturing Company and although Samuel was not the president during that time he was the superintendent of the works. A second reorganization resulted in the company being named The Collins Company with Samuel resuming the highest position.
    Once established his name became a symbol of the company and eventually was registered as a legitimate trademark, No. 5778. Samuel W. Collins's signature was included on labels and as stampings in a variety of situations and was formally registered as a company trademark on March 19, 1878 with a declaration that the signature had been contracted to read Sam. W. Collins. The statement section also declared that it had been used as a trademark since 1826.
   Subsequent trademark registrations reinforced the use of the name and signature as a stand-alone trademark and when used in conjunction with other registered trademarks used by the company.
   The Collins Co., along with its predecessors and when it operated under name variations, used a wide number of registered trademarks, trade names and proprietary brand names. They also produced goods that were specifically labeled with distributor names and brand names that belonged to specific distributors. Some identifying marks and labels included a reference to Collins while others did not.
    The sections identified with red titles address some of the trademarks, trade names and brands associated with Collins but it should be understood that there were many others. The dates refer to the time frame during which those identifying marks and names were used.  
LEGITIMUS    1875-1966
   The marking that seems to have gained the maximum degree of recognition in regard to The Collins Company was frequently referred to as the LEGITIMUS brand. It was not the earliest marking used by the company. The earliest trademark reference found, Registration No. 3,406 dated February 8, 1876, that mentioned the word Legitimus actually declares that the trademark is comprised of a "representation of a crown, from which rises an arm holding a hammer." It goes on to read that ... "It is preferred that the word "Legitimus" be shown beneath the crown upon a ribbon with streamer ends: but that is not essential."
    Over the years the combination of the arm, crown and hammer appears to have become the symbol most recognized as being associated with The Collins Company. The symbol, along with substantially the same wording used in the description, was again registered as No. 8,830. That registration was issued on Nov. 15, 1881.
    The word LEGITIMUS was specifically registered as No. 50,481 dated March 20, 1906. Republication was dated Aug. 17, 1948 and Aug. 17, 1953.
    A review of the stampings and labels on which the Crown, Arm and Hammer designs along with the word Legitimus readily shows that The Collins Company  utilized those brands and markings in a wide variety of ways. The markings were stamped, etched and or printed on labels. Other variations appeared in advertisements and on company stationary. The end result was wide spread recognition conveyed by a number of variations, many of which used individually while still others were adapted to be used in conjunction with other brands.
R. KING    1830-1925+-
  The name KING appears as axe stampings and on numerous axe labels, usually in conjunction with some other name or  word such as Forest, Northern, Ohio and so on suggesting that the axe in question was the best. There was also an axe manufacturer in Maine named John King that included his name on labels but the earliest known manufactured axes bearing the name were marked R. King.
   Those markings and labels included the location Canton, Connecticut. It was a brand used initially by Collins & Company of Canton, Connecticut. That company changed names and became The Collins Company of Collinsville, CT.
    Collinsville was originally a section of Canton. It is possible that R. King worked for the Collins Company but more probably the name was arbitrary and had a different connotation such as "Our" King.  Whatever the case the brand R. KING was used by the Collins Company in the early 1830s and perhaps even earlier. They continued to use the name as a brand on a paper label well into the twentieth century.
B.x SWIFT        1877-1953+
The B.x SWIFT trademark was originally registered on March 19, 1878, as No. 5,779. The Collins Company received three registrations for fundamentally the same B.x SWIFT trademark including the one in 1878 and when a third one was issued on August 12, 1884 (No. 11,403). This repetition may have been to be so the registrations were in conformity with evolving registration requirements. The company was located in Collinsville but the B.x SWIFT trademark registrations all depicted Avon, Conn., U.S.A. as the location. The variety of actual labels had subtle differences including the words "Tool Steel", different calligraphic lines, different registration reference wording and different color schemes. There were even different shaped paper labels and stampings impressed directly into the goods.
Bv WISE       1880s-1930s
   The Bv WISE was used prior to the 1890s. At this time a trademark registration for the name has not be confirmed even though early labels included the wording "Trade Mark Registered." It is surmised that the Bv WISE name may have referred to a person or was possibly intended as a slogan, but the inclusion of the "v" has yet to be explained. It may also have been used to represent a sales concept.
E. K. ROOT    1832-1849
    Prior to 1932, Elisha K. Root was a machinist. He was born in 1808 in Ludlow, Massachusetts. In 1832 his skills had drawn him to Canton, Connecticut to Collins & Company, an axe manufacturer who was rapidly expanding. Part of that expansion resulted in the hiring of Elisha K. Root. Root was apparently an experienced inventor and one of his early contributions to Collins was his implementation of machines and procedures for producing handles. Over the years he was with Collins he came up with many ideas for improvements in the existing machinery and new machines used for the making of axes.
    In 1836 he invented and patented a machine used for punching the eyes through solid poll axes. He had at least two other axe making machine patents; his second was issued in 1838 and the third in 1848.
    Root had become the superintendent of the Collins plant by 1836 when Samuel Colt visited the Collins manufactory. Apparently Colt and Root had the opportunity to meet at that time. Some years later, accounts indicate it was in 1849, E. K. Root gave up his position with Collins and relocated to Hartford where he took the position of plant superintendent for the Colt Patent Firearms Co. One major accounting indicates that Samuel Collins was not happy with Root's lack of enthusiasm related to the business of axe making. After Root relocated he developed a number of new and innovative ideas and machines that permitted the Colt revolver to become such a success.
 Another contribution Root made was the perfection of the Lincoln Miller milling machine which became what was considered the most important American machine tool of the late 1800s. During his involvement with the Colt Firearms Co. Root became a close associate of Samuel Colt and upon the death of Colt in 1862, Colt's widow appointed Root president of the company. Root continued in that position until he died in 1865 at the age of 57.
    Axes with the E. K. ROOT marking may have been made prior to his employment with Collins or, like in a number of cases, Collins may have marked some axes with the name E. K. ROOT as a tribute to Root considering he was an important individual associated with the company. As of this writing no paper labels are known extant that included Root's full name.
Marking used on some broad axes.
Marking used on some early Collins axes.
Another marking used on some early Collins axes.
Facsimile of label used in the 1880s. The paper frequently turned deep purple in color over time.
Representation of an etched marking used after 1878 on better quality Collins axes.
Facsimile of marking accompanying U.S. Trademark Registration No. 5,681 dated Feb. 26, 1878.
R. KIng label specifically for axes.
Paper labels bearing the name R. KING were used by The Collins Company. Many of the labels were applied to agricultural implements, other earth working tools and edge tools in general as well as axes. The brand was used on domestic as well as exported tools.
CHARTER OAK    1893-1952+
    The Collins Company received at least three trademark registrations for the name CHARTER OAK. The earliest known version was entitled “Trade-Mark for Edge Tools” and was registered as No. 24,030 dated January 9, 1894.  The second known registration was No. 24,802 and it was dated May 29, 1894. It was entitled “Trade-Mark for Axes and Other Edge Tools.” Interestingly, both those trademarks were applied for on the same date, December 22, 1892. The Statement for each noted that the trademark had been used since January 1893, the month following the submission of the application.
     The Statements were substantially the same but the locations of the company varied. The lower numbered trademark indicated The Collins Company was in Collinsville while the next one indicated the company was in Canton. Technically both were correct as Collinsville is in the township of Canton. Neither of the earlier trademark registrations included graphics.
     The third known CHARTER OAK trademark registration was entitled Trade-Mark For Certain Named Hardware Articles. The Statement indicated such hardware articles were in Class 23, Cutlery, machinery, and tools and parts thereof with axes, hatchets and adzes leading the list. The third registration was No. 89,008 and was registered on Nov. 5, 1912. It included a graphic of a label on which the name, a picture of an oak tree and the other specified wording was included. That registration was renewed on Nov. 5, 1952.
DYNAMICUT       1907-1966
     The brand DYNAMICUT was registered to The Collins Company on April 30, 1907. It was designated as No. 62,291.  The registration statement specified that the brand had been used in paper label form as well as in stampings directly on the goods since 1890. Many of the labels incorporating the brand name DYNAMICUT included words in Spanish indicating that many of the axes identified with those labels were intended for the export market.
Early labels specifically for axes.
Label used after the turn of the century, possibly around 1930.
Reg. No. 5779 dated Mar. 19, 1878.
Reg. No. 11,403, dated Aug. 12, 1884.
Facsimile of early paper label.
Representation of the graphic that accompanied Registration No.90,097 issued Feb. 4, 1913 and renewed Feb. 4, 1953.
Normal stamping on left. Double  overstrike, or triple stamping, observed on the cheek of a Collins & Co. axe. The mark usually appeared as a single stamping.
Facsimiles of paper labels with slight variations in wording and line work that were used over the years.
    A number of labels have been observed that are representative of substantially the same label. The significant differences were the variations in colors.
    A number of labels have been observed that are representative of substantially the same brand. The significant differences was the variations in colors. Trademark No. 187,954, dated Aug 12, 1924. Renewed Aug. 12, 1944.  Lower marking used  in the late 1950s -1966.
Stampings used on some axes. They were also used in addition to paper labels on some single bit axes. Later representations included a cuffed bent arm.
Additional comments and information related to Legitimus are included with
Collins Company Pt. 2.
    The significance of the name Charter Oak is said to have had been associated with an oak tree that had been planted near the present site of Hartford, Connecticut. The tree is said to have been planed by a number of Indians representing the local tribes. The purpose of the planting was to signify an agreement for peace among those tribes. Years later after the tree had grown and sustained the rigors of time and weather it developed a void or hollow area within its trunk. That hollow was used to hide the original State Charter during the conflict between those who wanted the commonwealth to remain a colony belonging to England and those seeking to provide independence for the colonies. The Charter was the document that granted Connecticut its sovereignty and it being hidden in the old oak prevented those that wished to destroy it from finding it.
Brand markings reportedly used on some straight bladed cutlery such as machetes.
Introduced in 1908 and registered as Trademark No. 187,954 dated Aug 12, 1924. Renewed Aug. 12, 1944.
Labels similar to this were affixed to axes exported to India  and adjacent areas.
Label believed to have been used before 1930.
Stampings used in 1950s and 1960s.
Labels used on some hatchets and hammers.
Three different stampings used by  The Collins Company to indicate the R. King brand. The inclusion of the initials U.S.A. suggest these marks were used in the early part of the 1900s.
Multiple markings appear occasionally on various tools. It is believed that such multiple markings were not done on purpose.
Cross reference articles published on the YesteryearsTools web site that relate to this article;
Collins Company Pt.2
Collins Company Pt.3
Collins Company Pt.4
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Label frequently used together with other labels both domestic and exported.
Facsimile of label depicted with Trademark Registration No. 7,094 dated March 11, 1879.
The Charter Oak brand symbol was used on labels for other companies along with  the collins name.
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