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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 324

MANUFACTURES OF TAUNTON.
A. Field & Sons' Tack Factory,
In Taunton, is the oldest established and most extensive Tack manu.
factory in the United States. It employs nearly three hundred per-
sons, and operates about two hundred machines of the Reed and
Blanchard patents, with late improvements. Some of their machines
will produce each over four hundred pounds of Shoe Nails daily,
while the variety in the products of the establishment is no less aston-
ishing than the quantity. Between five and six hundred kinds of
tacks, brads, and nails, are made in these Works, ranging from the
small pill-box copper tack, of which one thousand will weigh but half
of an ounce, to boat nails, of which each one will weigh a half ounce.
Over two thousand tons of metals, of various kinds, are converted into
tacks and small nails every year.
Until late in the last century, the manufacture of nails, tacks, brads,
etc., in this country and in England, was exclusively a manual process.
It was during the emergencies of the Revolutionary War, which called
into exercise the inventive talents of the country, that the first attempt
appears to have been made to produce Cut Nails and Tacks. About
the year 1775, Jeremiah Wilkinson, of Cumberland, Rhode Island, a
manufacturer of hand cards, tired of making the tacks required in his
business by the old and tedious process of hammering, adopted the ex-
pedient of cutting them with shears from iron hoops, or other thin
metal, and afterwards heading them in a vice. This method he after-
wards applied to the manufacture of other small nails, producing pro-
bably the first cold cut nails ever made. The same principle is carried
out by appropriate mechanism in most of the modern nail-cutting ma-
chines which were introduced only ten or twelve years later, their in-
vention having apparently become a necessity of an age fruitful in
every form of labor-saving expedient. Between the years 1789 and
the close of the century, machinery was estimated to have doubled the
annual production of nails in Massachusetts. Several of the most dis-
tinguished of early American inventors employed their powers-some
at a very early age-in devising machinery for cutting nails. Among
these were Perkins, Whittemore, Reed, and Blanchard, while others in
England, about the same time, labored, though less successfully, to
accomplish the same end. Attention appears to have been first directed
to improvements in the shears, and the independent operations of cut-
ting the nail and of heading the same.
The first patent for nail making was registered in the United States
Patent Office in August, 1791, by Samuel Briggs, Senior and Junior,
of Philadelphia, who deposited with the State authorities of Pennsyl-
324


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