Invention Geek – The Monkey Wrench?

Question from Dylan T.:

Dear Geek,
Did Charles Moncky really invent the Monkey wrench?

Hi Dylan,

I had to do some digging to find the answer to this question. Thanks for making me look.

There is a popular legend that a Baltimore mechanic, Charles Moncky invented the Monkey wrench in 1858. The story says that he patented the invention and then eventually sold the rights for $2,000 dollars. He, then, bought a house in upstate New York to live in later in life.

I had heard the story and believed it to be true. I loved the idea that the Monkey wrench was accidentally called that instead of the Moncky wrench. But now, I think I was wrong. A patent search proved unsuccessful when searching for patents for a Charles Moncky. No concrete evidence has ever been found that can trace the Monkey wrench to any single person. The wrench it seems is actually just a improvement of a 18th century carriage wrench.

If Moncky did not invent the wrench, the origins of the name are a complete mystery. It may have been named Monkey wrench because the jaws look slightly like the face of a monkey.

– TG

Ask the Geek, Get a Free Patent Mug

That’s right, if your question is chosen to be featured in our weekly “Invention Geek” column, we’ll send you a free one-of-a-kind patent mug custom pressed with a picture from your invention and the title of Honorary Invention Geek.

Got a pressing question about innovation history? Jump over to Ask the Invention Geek for details & an easy entry form!