Vince Staten - Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?: Hardware Stores and Hardware Stories

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Don't Monkey with my Monkey Wrench!

Aug 6, 2006
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Stories of tool and who invented them and their uses. Humorous tales of Hardware Stores.

Cons:Not the best writing style.

The Bottom Line: Only for do-it-yourselfer's and those to love tools and how to use them. Covers all about hardware stores and some funny things that happen there.


Bear with me as I have to explain about this book. I found it at a “Friends of the Library” store in Fort Worth, Texas this past weekend when I was visiting my family. My daughter-in-law let me read another book she had purchased there and I asked her to take me to this store, when you can by books for $2.00 to $3.00 I wanted to see for myself. Well I bought a bag full of books for $17.00 and this book Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench – Hardware Stores and Hardware Stories by Vince Staten was part of that collection.

I will now have to explain why I purchased this book. I spent ten days in Iowa this August at the request of my two daughters as they would be in the process of moving and needed their mothers help. My oldest daughter teaches the TAG program in a school near Ames, Iowa and has an apartment there. She would be moving into a larger apartment, while my youngest daughter had sold her home in a nearby community and purchased a home in Ames as she handles all the computers for the USDA offices in Ames. You get the picture here, this was a working vacation as I spent most of the time packing up boxes, moving boxes, unpacking boxes and furniture, plus remodeling the home she just purchased.

My daughters amazed me as they both think nothing of taking out walls, doing electrical wiring, stripping wallpaper, painting and general construction work. I realized they inherited this from their grandfather, as my father and brothers were all of these things. In the course of my time there, we spent hours in Lowe's, Home Depot, Menards and Wall Mart picking out things for this older home. In the course of this visit my oldest daughter remarked one day that she always thought she would like to own a hardware store. Now you know where this book is going to be sent. My daughter reads my reviews and she will smile as she reads this and look forwards to the book. I will also include a few pictures of the little hardware store here in Salado, Texas.

This book Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench is all about tools and how they were invented and used. The author also explained that he grew up working in his father’s hardware store and had many stories to fill in the many chapters. There are fourteen chapters covering all the departments that a typical hardware store may carry. He also compares the small town hardware store to the large places like Lowe's and Home Depot and why many hardware stores are being closed. Everyone does not live next to Lowe's or Home Depot so you can still find a few hardware stores near where you live. Not everyone is going to enjoy this book or even care about screws or who invented Rust-Oleum but the author did write a humorist side of the hardware business.

This is how the author explains where the word hardware began, According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term “hardware” shows up as early as 1515. A 1723 ad in the London Gazette referred to one John Lowe as a “Haberdasher of Hard-Ware”. Now you know where the Lowe’s of today got the name for their stores. As for the answer to who invented the Monkey Wrench there were several versions. One was that Robert Ripley proclaimed that the monkey wrench was invented by Charles Moncke a blacksmith. Some say it got its name because it resembles a monkey another version that a man named Monk a mechanic in 1856 invented a moveable jaw wrench and people started calling it Monk’s Wrench which turned into “monkey wrench”. There were other versions but it is still today called the “monkey wrench”.

In the chapter on lighting it was interesting to read of the invention of the light bulb and of course Thomas Edison comes to mind. This was of interest as the author researched in detail just how Thomas Edison came up with this idea of a lighted bulb. His experiments took years as he had to invent a generator to light up the bulb. His first successful lamp was plugged in and burned for two days before burning out. To show his genius he opened his laboratory as a celebration and hundreds of people came to see everything brilliantly illuminated with twenty five lamps plus others in the street. This became the General Electric of our time as business began to take advantage of this invention.

As a housewarming gift to my youngest daughter we shopped for new hanging lamps, scones and ceiling fan. This took many trips to find just the right matching set of lights and fan. It was always a joke, “Oh good we get to make another trip to Lowe’s”. When everything was purchased my daughter did all her own wiring and even remarked what a bad job of wiring the old lights were done. They did not use electrical tape to seal the wires, they just used duck tape. She thought that was a poor job but she managed the wiring just fine and it all looked great.

There is one chapter I will make note for my daughter which states on page 178, ”So you think you want to open your own hardware store? “ The author include a government pamphlet called Establishing and Operating a Hardware Store with a checklist and qualification you need but the pamphlet was written in 1946 I am sure things have changed now. I am sure my daughter will find this section of interest. I do know she will love to read about Duct Tape now called Duck Tape, she is a whiz using this stuff. If you love tools, love the smell of saw dust, love to do-it-yourself you may enjoy this book. TO LOVE WHAT YOU ARE DOING, IMPROVING YOUR SURROUNDINGS, LIFE IS GRAND!!


Recommend this product? Yes

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