Friday, March 17, 2017

Vanished tool makers: J. Cartwright & Son, Malaga, California

I recently picked up these huge 16-inch tin snips.  I've cleaned them up and oiled them, and am looking forward to using them to handle heavier gauge steel.

The Rev. John Cartwright was born in Sangamon County, Illinois. After serving in the American Civil War, he preached as a Baptist minister in Illinois.  In 1868, he brought his wife and four children across the country to California.  An arduous journey in those days, it took five months.  The party that was following him was massacred by Indians.   Eventually locating in Fresno county in 1885, he bought a 40-acre plot near Malaga and created a vineyard. Familiar with the blacksmith's trade, around 1869 he began to manufacture the famous Cartwright pruning shears.  After he died in 1902, his two sons carried on the firm, naming it J. Cartwright & Sons.  In 1910, they built a brick factory, electrified it in 1914, and continued to hand-make the pruning shear out of oil-tempered steel, selling as "the best that is."  By 1919, over 90% of the pruning shears used for pruning grapevines in California vineyards were Cartwright pruning shears.

At some point, the company diversified into "Tru-Cut" tin snips. It persevered into the early 1950's, but disappeared after that.

Popular Science, September 1948

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