Thursday, January 2, 2014

Vanished Tool Makers: E.C. Atkins & Co., Indianapolis, Indiana

Below, one of my coping saws:

Stamped on the frame:

Below, my Atkins No. 11 hacksaw:

Elias Cornelius Atkins started business under his own name in Cleveland, Ohio in 1855. The following year he moved to Indianapolis and formed a partnership with W. Knippenberg.  Like many early tool makers, he persevered through three disastrous factory fires.  In 1872, he brought back high quality steel stock from England and began to manufacture his signature product, the Silver Steel Diamond Cross Cut Saw.
By 1881, he was employing 135 workmen in a factory that spanned three acres, and had become one of the largest saw makers in the U.S., rivaling Henry Disston & Sons of Philadelphia.  The plant eventually occupied an entire city block.

Hardware Merchandising, 1906
Plants were also opened in Hamilton, Ontario and Vancouver, B.C.  Below, my wonderfully heavy 7-inch dado-cutting blade made by the Hamilton factory:

Canadian Machinery, 1921

Elias Atkins died in 1942, and his company remained in family hands until 1952, when it was sold to the Borg-Warner Corporation (an event which doesn't even merit a mention on that company's history webpage). The Indianapolis plant remained in production until 1961, when it was moved to Greensville, Mississippi.  This plant was sold to Nicholson File in 1966, and then in 1970 it was acquired by Cooper Industries.  Cooper merged with Danaher in 2010 to form Apex Tools, and this conglomerate was sold in 2012 to Bain Capital, a private equity firm co-founded by Mitt Romney.

"Mr. Happy Man says..."  What advertising hack wrote this copy?!
The old Indianapolis plant was purchased by the U.S. Post Office in 1963, which demolished it to make room for a new postal distribution centre.

For more detailed histories, visit wkfinetools and


Unknown said...

I am in the process of rescuing an Atkins kwik cut power hacksaw, pictured above in one of the pages. Thank you for posting this!

Mister G said...

You're welcome! I wish we had more information.

Unknown said...

Hola tengo varias hojas circulares con este sello en particular quería saber si tienen algún valor. Gracias

Mister G said...

Not as much as we hope...