top of page

Tracing the Heritage of the Red Warrior Axe Line

Many axe enthusiasts love the “Kelly Red Warrior”, and are aware of its mixed heritage, but the pathway by which it changed hands can be slightly confusing. The Red Warrior Axe was originally PATENTED by James H. Mann in 1868. You may be asking, “But shouldn’t that have been a Trademark?”. The reason for the application of a Design Patent rather than a Trademark was simply because the U.S. Trademark system wasn’t set up until 1870!. The original design also noted that the axes were manufactured for “William Mann”, who would have been William Mann Jr, of William Mann, Jr. and Company, so, in essence, this was the original company to own the “Red Warrior Axe”. At that time, the Red Warrior was manufactured in both an etched and a paper label version, using the same patented design to mark the heads. Despite leadership (and ownership) changes with the W. Mann company, the line would remain with them until 1890, when the company would join with the American Axe and Tool Company. Other members of the Mann family, who had separate companies, such as the Harvey Mann Axe Company and Robert Mann and Sons, would also join the company, adding their lines to the mix. One of the stipulations of Robert Mann and Sons becoming a member of the combine was the inclusion of Joseph Mann, a son of Robert Mann who had left the axe manufacturing world and gone into the security business in Kansas, where he worked for the Keystone Security Company. The leadership of the A.A.&T.Co. provided the position of General Superintendent to Joseph, which he held from 1890 to 1892. He left the company after an argument with Charles W. Hubbard (Senior) and soon thereafter started the Mann Edge Tool Company. However, this company took none of the old Mann lines, as none were owned by Joseph. Over the next 20 years, the A.A.&T.Co. would close the Mann factories under its control and condense the lines originally owned by the Mann companies under their name. James Mann would leave the company entirely and start a new company, however, much like the MET Co., he would start with new lines, as the ownership of the old lines was still under the A.A.&T.Co. In 1911, during the financial crisis that was plaguing the nation, the value of the stock of the company would fall to near a quarter of the original value. W.C. Kelly, being a shrewd businessman, began buying the stock of the failing A.A.&T. Co. at the severely lowered prices. By 1912 he would be the majority owner of that Company. Due to the appearance of forming an even larger “Trust”, right at the same time that the largest “Trust” in the nation, Rockefeller’s “Standard Oil Company” was being broken up by the U.S. government under relatively new “anti-trust” legislation, Kelly ran the 2 companies minimizing his involvement with the A.A.&T.Co. He accomplished this by placing his brother, James P. Kelly as President, and his brother-in-law, William B. Lockett as the General Manager. When James died in 1915, W.B Lockett replaced him. After WW I had come and gone, and the “heat” brought down on “Trusts” died down, the 2 companies began working more closely. In 1924, W.B. Lockett died, and less than 10 days after his death, rather than place another “Kelly” in its presidency, the two companies merged, including all their lines, and formed a new company, the Kelly Axe and Tool Company. This brought the Red Warrior Axe into the folds of the Kelly group. In 1931, the Kelly Axe and Tool Company, suffering under the onslaught of the initial despondency of the Great Depression, merged with the American Fork and Hoe Company. Also known as the True Temper Company (as a slogan before and as an official name after 1949), this brought the Kelly/True Temper Red Warrior Axe into being. Under this company the axe was available in several forms, and, along with the Lippincott Axe, was one of the A.A.T.Co. lines to make it to the years of the “3 Liner” Kelly axes. As the 60s drew near, the state of the axe industry declined, and one by one the lines disappeared. Axes made in 59 and into the 60s at the Kelly facility began to have ribs (6 at the time) in the eye, and as far as I am aware at this time, the only A.A.&T.Co line to be represented in a rib eyed axe was the Red Warrior, likely indicating that it was the longest running of those lines. After 1960, the Red Warrior followed it’s brethren, dying out as a line.

150 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page