[Ads-l] Monkey wrench was Re: "Monkey this up"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 31 09:52:23 EDT 2018

My blog post has some good wrench history.  The adjustable"screw wrench" was invented in England in the early 1800s.

There is an update within my post with British uses of "monkey wrench",by the 1820s".

Significant improvements in adjustable "screw wrenches", sometimes referred to as monkey wrenches, were made in Springfield, Mass in the 1830s.

Loring Coes moved to Springfield in the late-1830s and invented an improved, adjustable screw wrench in about 1840.

His design was stronger, easier to use, and kept the spacing well.  His design was wildly successful and displaced most of the other screw wrenches.

The name became mostly associated with his design.

The modern pipe-wrench is essentially a large version of Coes' 1840 wrench.  The crescent wrench has since displaced most of the smaller "monkey wrenches" of Coes' design.
From: Amy West<mailto:medievalist at W-STS.COM>
Sent: ‎8/‎31/‎2018 4:51
Subject: Monkey wrench was Re: "Monkey this up"

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Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM>
Subject:      Monkey wrench was Re: "Monkey this up"

All this discussion of /monkey wrench/ as possibly connected to /monkey
[something] up /jogged my memory that Worcester, MA, lays claim not only
to the invention of the smiley face, but also the monkey wrench:

"The monkey wrench was invented by Loring Coes of the Coes Knife Company
in 1840."

I realize that we deal with lexical terms and not necessarily the
object, but have any monkey wrench researchers run across this claim
before and dealt with it?

---Amy West

(And the claim to the smiley face is also problematic, I understand . . . )

On 8/31/18 00:00, ADS-L automatic digest system wrote:
> ate:    Thu, 30 Aug 2018 20:13:29 +0000
> From:    Peter Reitan<pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM>
> Subject: Re: "Monkey this up"
> "monkey wrench in the works" . . . Yes, that's what I meant to type.
> It'd funnier if I weren't writing about someone else perhaps mangling an idiom.
> My mind works faster than my typing fingers.
> And as for the origin of "monkey wrench," I wrote a piece on it last year<https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2015/10/charles-monk-monkey-wrenches-and-monkey.html>.  Interestingly, there was, in fact, a "tool maker" named Charles Monkay (not Monk as the old-wives' tales generally say) who lived in Brooklyn, consistent with a commonly repeated origin story.  However, Charles Monkay made bricklaying tools - not wrenches - and in any case, the term "monkey wrench" pre-dates his birth, so he is an unlikely candidate.

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