The Buffum punch tool, manufactured in the early 1900s by the Buffum Tool Company in Louisiana, Missouri, is easily identified by the swastika trademark and the company's name emblazoned across its surface. The company's trademark swastika predated Hitler's use of the symbol by about 20 years and had no connection with Germany or the Nazis. Buffum Tool Company made hand tools, plumbing tools, animal traps, auto card presses, tinner hand tools and cement worker tools. The company also made unusual items including potato chip makers, ice tongs, ice scrapers, lemon squeezers and sprinklers.
Frank W. Buffum founded the Buffum Tool Company by 1908 and produced tools until at least 1922. He chose the swastika because of its symbolism for good luck and well-being. The symbol was in use for 5,000 years before becoming the symbol of Hitler's Germany. At the turn of the century, when the Buffum Tool Company was founded, the symbol was widely used across Europe to signify good fortune.
From 1908 to 1922, the Buffum Tool Company's tools became known as the "Swastika Brand" because of the trademark on each tool and its appearance in company advertising fliers. In the June 1910 issue of "Hardware Dealers' Magazine," the company proudly proclaimed itself the Swastika Brand. The advertisement showed two chisels as an example of the company's tool line. Over time, the company would display its other tools on advertisements.
The company's trademark and logo, Buffum Tool Co., are engraved across the punch's steel. The words "Louisiana, Mo." are also visible on the company's tools and denote the company's hometown and founding location. Every item manufactured by the company contained the logo, company name and town of origin. Consumers knew beyond a shadow of doubt that they were purchasing genuine Buffum tools.
The punch designed by the Buffum Tool Company could be used to punch through steel or leather. It came equipped with a sharp, pointed end. The punch was also used to leave a mark in a hard surface. It required no hammer; the person simply pushed the tool's sharp end into the surface. The punches made by the Buffum Tool Company offered a steel handgrip with a steel punch tip.