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2001/85/1 Mouse and rat trap making machines (4), mouse traps (5), rat traps (2) and accessories (6), metal / wood, A W Standfield and Co, Mascot, New South Wales, Australia, 1925-2000. Click to enlarge.

Collection of mouse and rat-trap making machines, traps and accessories, made by AW Standfield & Co

The Standfield collection of trap-making machines and associated items is an unusual, indeed curious, ensemble of purpose-built machines and products that defined an Australian industry for sixty years.

The collection exemplifies a 'making do' approach to manufacturing in that the machines were built from secondhand parts from a range of sources; it also exemplifies the notion of technological stasis in that the machines were always considered efficient and sophisticated artifacts for the …


Object No.


Object Statement

Mouse and rat trap making machines (4), mouse traps (5), rat traps (2) and accessories (6), metal / wood, A W Standfield and Co, Mascot, New South Wales, Australia, 1925-2000

Physical Description

Mouse and rat trap making machines (4), mouse traps (5), rat traps (2) and accessories (6), metal / wood, made by A W Standfield and Co, Mascot, New South Wales, Australia, 1925-2000

Four mouse and rat trap making machines:

The Standard 'Supreme' Mouse-Trap Machine: A free-standing mechanical device (electrical power), which consists of gears, drive chains, a chute, pulleys, a light, and wheels, for the making and complete assembly of mouse traps.

The Wire-Spring Machine (for standard 'Supreme' mouse traps): A free-standing mechanical device (electrical power) comprising two 'umbrella' poles around which is wrapped wire for use in the mouse trap. The purpose of this machine is to feed a straight length of wire that is unravelled from the poles into a 'forming assembly' unit, which then twists the wire into the spring mechanism on the mouse trap.

The Wire-Trigger Machine (for choker (4-in-1) mouse traps): A free-standing mechanical device (electrical power) with gears and a wire-feed wheel, which feeds and forms the wire trigger to the choker (4-in-1) mouse traps. A length of wire is fed into the 'forming assembly' unit, which then rapidly shapes the trigger to the choker trap. The trigger is a short piece of wire (about 5 cm) with both ends curled. Its purpose is to anchor the wire springs to the timber base of the choker trap.

The Wire-Spring Machine (for choker (4-in-1) 'Supreme' mouse traps): A free-standing mechanical device (electrical power) with gears, wire-feed wheel, and off-chute. The function of this machine is to twist a short piece of steel wire (about 10 cm) to form the spring mechanism for choker traps.

These four machines may be regarded as being complementary in the making and assembly of the standard and choker 'Supreme' mouse traps. The work of each machine is essential for the making of the final product.

The Standard, Choker, and 'Westan' Mouse Traps, and Rat Trap: The standard 'Supreme' mouse trap consists in a rectangular piece of pine wood on to which is affixed the wire spring and trigger mechanism. The 'Supreme' choker trap comprises four spring and trigger mechanisms, which are mounted on a polygon (8 irregular, though symmetrically sided) timber base. The 'Westan' is an all metal trap comprising trigger and wire-spring mechanism. Its base is rectangular. The 'Ezeset' 'Supreme' rat trap is similar in style and function to the standard mouse trap, with the exception that it is mounted on a larger and thicker pine base, the letter branding is larger, and the spring and wire catch mechanisms are made from a higher gauge of wire.

There are a number of items that were used in conjunction with the mouse-trap machine, or were made or purchased by the firm generally and include: spring door hinge; packet of clothes pegs; two shelf brackets; packet of wooden blocks. A cardboard box used to store these items has the wording 'Supreme Spring Clothes Pegs' printed on the side.



Formal patent applications were taken by Arnold Wesley Standfield for the 'Westan' all metal rodent trap, and the Kyogle cow-tail clip. The patent documents are supplemented with schematic designs, which illustrate the operational requirements of the products. Interestingly, no formal machine design or patent was ever taken on Standfield's principal item, namely, the mouse-trap machine. The Standfield archives hold the patent applications for the 'Westan' mouse trap and Kyogle cow-tail clip, as well as other documentary accounts of these items.

The machines, traps, and the cow-tail clip, were entirely the creations of Arnold Wesley Standfield (1901-1990), the founder of A.W. Standfield and Co., 'Supreme' Mouse and Rat Traps. His sons Dave and Ron Standfield assisted their father with the repair and maintenance of the machines, and the sons became the owners and managers of the firm upon the death of their father. Knowledge of the machines and its products was passed to the sons by their father, and in turn they passed on knowledge and skill to long-term employees of the firm.

A.W. Standfield made the machine from wheels, gears and pieces of metal taken from scrapped machines he found in scrap-iron yards around Sydney. Although Standfield had no formal training in machining or associated trades, his accomplishment does suggest that he had an innate ability to build production machines. In a single operation, a mouse trap can be assembled in 1.5 seconds. The standard production rate is "over 1,000 traps per hour" ('Mouse-Trap Making Machine', n.d. probably composed by A.W. Standfield, Standfield archives).

The machine was made over a two-year period (1942-1943) and the first traps 'came off' the machine on 7 January, 1944. The machine is as it was first made, although broken and worn parts have been replaced over the years.

The machine itself makes all parts, and, as mentioned above, assembles a trap in 1.5 seconds. In operational terms, four strands of staple wire are fed, straightened, cut off, folded and driven into the base of the trap. The machine grounds off protruding staple ends. It feeds, straightens, cuts off, and forms into a trigger, wire of 3" (76.2mm) length of 17 gauge wire, which was supplied by BHP. The machine staples the trigger wire to the pine base.

The machine makes and assembles the bait holder. The machine selects the length of steel for the bait-holder, cuts it, punches and forms the steel into the bait holder and affixes the holder (under the staple) to the pine base.

The machine feeds, straightens, and cuts off 18" (457.2mm) of 17 gauge spring wire and forms this as the mouse-trap spring. In the process, the wire is turned and bent 23 times at varying degrees to make a spring.

The mouse-trap machine pushes the piece of pine along a slot and brands the base.

The machine turns the spring ends. The spring is fed through and stapled by hand to the base. This operation completes the assembly of a mouse trap.

The 'Westan' Mouse Trap was not made on the mouse-trap machine. The 'Westan' was Standfield's first mouse trap and it was patented in 1926. At that time, A.W. Standfield was living at 57 Baxter Road, Mascot, his factory was much smaller, and all production of the 'Westan' trap was manual rather than machine based. Production of the 'Westan' was limited, although the production numbers remain unknown. Nevertheless, the claimed advantages of the 'Westan' were: (1) it was everlasting, being made of metal; (2) a finger-hole, provided at the base, made setting safe and simple; even a child could operate it without danger; (3) it could be sterilised without fear of damage to the trap; (4) the mouse is released by unhooking ends of spring from 'L' slot; (5) a double spring was fitted, and was not found on any other trap; (6) it will not turn over when the rodent is trapped, thus avoiding a blood-stained floor; (7) an improved two-prong bait-holder was fitted; (8) the neat, rounded finishes were not so apt to frighten the timid mouse.

How is a standard mouse-trap made? The basic principles are as follows. The entire assembly of springs and trigger is placed on a Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) rectangular base. Hoop Pine was a widely used Australian soft wood, finding applications in joinery, butterboxes, shelving, flooring, plywoods, and veneers.

The Hoop pine was delivered by road transport from timber mills on the far North Coast of New South Wales and Gympie, Queensland. Each delivery comprised about 20,000 feet, which weighed about 20 tonne. The timber was re-sawn to the required width and thickness and the surfaces were dressed by a four-headed planing machine. A docking saw was then used to cut the timber to the exact length. At the same time, the bases were manually sorted for quality and defective pieces were discarded. The bases were then stacked on trays.

The first stage of assembly had the operator place the base in the magazine of the stapling machine. When the clutch of the machine was activated by the operator, a striker or hammer pushes the bottom base from the magazine to stage 1, where the name is stamped on by an electrically heated brand. At the next operation of the clutch this base is moved to Stage 2 by the action of the next base coming under the brand.

At Stage 2, the four staples are formed from four separate coils of wire and driven into the base. At the same time the tail-wire is manufactured from a fifth coil of wire and automatically placed in the exact position directly under the appropriate staple. The bait-holder is made from a coil of strip metal and is also placed automatically under the wide staple.

The next move brings the trap to the position of the operator, who inserts the spring through the staples on each side of the base. The trap then moves to the next position where the protruding end of the spring is folded under. The assembled mouse trap then drops onto a conveyor belt, which carries it to the packing table where they are packed into cardboard boxes and delivered (truck and train) to retail outlets.



The mouse-trap machine was used continuously at Sydney's Baxter Road factory, Mascot, between 1942-43 and August, 2000. The machine produced about 96 million mouse traps. Initially, A.W. Standfield was the only person to use the machine, but when his sons Dave and Ron commenced work at the factory, Standfield senior taught his sons the techniques involved in making 'Supreme' mouse traps. Dave and Ron Standfield also taught other employees (men and women) how to operate the machine.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has made a documentary about the machine and the firm. This was shown on the ABC television programme 'Australian Story' on 10 August, 2000.

Ownership of the various machines has remained with the Standfield family. Thus the creation and ownership of these industrial artifacts remained unchanged for the entire working/natural life of the inventor. This has meant, for example, that in sixty years, there has not been any modification in the design or operational function of the machine.


Credit Line

Gift of Ron Standfield, 2001

Acquisition Date

5 October 2001

Cite this Object


Collection of mouse and rat-trap making machines, traps and accessories, made by AW Standfield & Co 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 13 May 2021, <https://ma.as/10853>


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