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Bishop, J. Leander (John Leander), 1820-1868 / A history of American manufactures from 1608 to 1860 : exhibiting the origin and growth of the principal mechanic arts and manufactures, from the earliest colonial period to the adoption of the Constitution : and comprising annals of the industry of the United States in machinery, manufactures and useful arts, with a notice of the important inventions, tariffs, and the results of each decennial census
Volume 3 (1868)

Manufactures of Taunton,   pp. 319-331

Page 325

vania the model of a machine for making nails, gimlets, rivets, etc., in
June, 1789 ; but it does not appear whether it wasfor making wrought
or cut nails.
The construction of the first cut nail machine has been ascribed to
several persons, among whom were Benjamin Cochran, a shopmate of
Eli Whitney (about 1790), Ezekiel Reed, of Bridgewater, Massachusetts,
Jacob Perkins, of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and the late Walter
Hunt, of New York. The first letters patent for nail cutting machinery
on the patent records were issued in March, 1794, or 1795, to Josiah G.
Pearson, or Pierson, of New York, who, four years later, put in opera-
tion, on the Ramapo in Hampstead, Rockland county, New York, the
extensive rolling and slitting mill and nail works of Pierson & Brothers,
which, in 1810, cut and headed by water power upward of one million
pounds of nails annually. The nail cutting machinery of Jacob Per-
kins, though invented as early as 1790, at the age of twenty-four years,
was not patented until January, 1795. Like many others, he found
the invention, though efficient, a source of pecuniary embarrassment,
in consequence of an injudicious partnership, with which he estab-
lished a manufactory two or three years later at Amesbury, where a
nail company was chartered in 1805 with a capital of nearly half a
million dollars. The machine cut and headed nails at one operation,
and was an advance upon any thing previously in use. In Dr. Morse's
American Gazetteer, published in 1797, mention is made of a machine
invented by Caleb Leach, of Plymouth, which would cut and head five
thousand nails in a day, with the aid of one boy or girl. In the same
connection it is stated that there was a machine at Newburyport in-
vented by Mr. Jacob Perkins, which would turn out two hundred thou-
sand nails in a (lay, of a quality superior to English nails and twenty
per cent. cheaper. In 1810, Perkins took out another patent for cut-
ting nails and brads, and during the same year the nail cutting ma-
chinery of Massachusetts was patented in England by Joseph C. Dyer,
an American merchant resident in London. The mechanism of Per-
kins and Dyer was soon after put in operation at the Britannia Nail
Works in Birmingham, which was the first manufacture of cold cut
nails by machinery in that country. Its features were those of power-
ful rotary pressers or hammers for squeezing metal rods into the forms
of nail shanks, pins, screw shafts, rivets, etc., of cutters for separating
the proper lengths, and of dies operated by revolving cams or cranks,
for forming the heads by compression. It was the type of many later
inventions for the same purpose, in which the machines have been im-
proved by greater simplicity of parts and acceleration of speed.
In addition to the patents already mentioned, not less than ten others

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