Wilfrid Richmond.

The Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 online

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of the miners' union. In 1886 he organized the
Ayrshire miners^ and in 1887 attended his first
Trade Union Congress. He was one of the
founders of the Independent Labor Party, and
was elected member of Parliament in 1888, 1892,
and 190a He is proprietor and editor of a
weekly paper, the ( Labour Leader. y

Hardie, Robert Gordon, American portrait
painter: b. Brattleboro, Vt, 29 March 1^54;
d. Brattleboro, Vt., 9 Jan. 1904. He studied
drawing at the Cooper Union Institute, the
Academy of Design, and the Art Students 9
League, N. Y., and at Paris became a pupil of
Gerome. He exhibited at the Salon in 1880 and
following years, and in 1882 studied under Ca-
banel. A picture of his appeared at the Exhibi-
tion of the National Academy of Design in i888>
and he exhibited a portrait of his wife at the
World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Harding, Chester, American portrait
painter: b. Conway, Mass., 1 Sept. 1792; d. Bos-
ton 1 April 1866. As an artist he was self-
taught, his trade being that of a turner. He
fought as a soldier in the War of 1812, and found
employment on his discharge as a sign-painter in
Pittsburg, Pa. Crossing the ocean he became a
{avorite portrait painter in London and found



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HARDING— HARDWARE TRADE IN AMERICA



To1
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patronage among the royal family. His Por-
trait of Daniel Webster > is owned by the New
York Bar Association, while his ( Portrait of

^qhn Randolph* is in the Corcoran Gallery,

""ashington.

Harding, Karl Ludwig, German astrono-
mer: b. Lauenburg 29 Sept. 1765; d. Gottingen
31 Aug. 1834. Called to be a tutor to the spn of
the illustrious Schroter, he became inspector and
observer in Schroter's observatory. In 1805 he
was appointed professor of astronomy in the
University of Gottingen, and remained in this
position till his death. He discovered the as-
teroid Juno, the third of the planetoids, in 1804,
and independently, the second comet of 1813
credited to Pons. His ( Atlas Novus Ccelestis*
(1808-23; new ed. 1856) was for years the best
of its sort.

Hardness, Scale of. In mineralogy, the
hardness of a mineral is estimated by observing
which of certain standard minerals will scratch
a smooth surface of the given mineral, and
which will not. ^On Mohs* scale (which is
usually adopted), ten such standard minerals
are selected for the establishment of the scale,
their hardness being arbitrarily defined as i, 2,
3, etc., up to 10. The minerals that are com-
monly used for this purpose are as follows:

1. Talc. 6. Feldspar.

2. Gypsum. 7. Quartz.

3. Calcite. 8. Topaz.

4. Fluorite. 9. Sapphire.

5. Apatite. 10. Diamond.

A mineral which will neither scratch apatite
nor be scratched by it, for example, has a hard-
ness of precisely 5 ; and the same may be said of
one which will both scratch apatite and be
scratched by it. A mineral which feldspar will
scratch but apatite will not, has a hardness in-
termediate between 5 and 6. The decimal ex-
pressing the precise degree of hardness in such
a case must be assigned by guess; but there is
little use in attempting to determine a hardness
more closely than to the nearest half-degree on
the scale given above.

Hardware in America during the past
•century. The term ^hardware," like everything
else in our country, has suffered a great deal
of expansion during the past hundred years,
particularly as regards its application. Origin-
ally restricted to necessary articles of steel and
iron, it has come to embrace in its technical and
business understanding a great variety of goods
which have no relation at all to the original
meaning of the word.

One of the potent causes of this sweeping
change has been the steady reduction in the
price of hardware for a long series of years.
This reduction has not been altogether con-
tinuous, but with occasional up-lifts during pros-
perous times or due to manipulation and control
of the products — but on the average the trend
has been steadily downward, particularly as
compared with a period of 50 years ago. There
are innumerable articles whose present cost is
only from one third to one half as much now
as then. It became necessary for all who were
interested in hardware — manufacturers, jobbers,
and retailers — to consequently largely increase
the volume of their business in dollars and
cents, since the mere tonnage output was so
much less in value, thus recognizing one of the



elementary principles of business — that the
larger the output, within certain limits, neces-
sarily the smaller the average cost of doing
business.

Because of the discovery and exploitation of
enormous ore bodies of iron, copper, and lead,
among which may be instanced the great mines
of Lake Superior — both iron and copper — the
copper deposits in Montana and Arizona,
and the lead and zinc ores in Missouri
and the Southwest, and also because of the
steady multiplication and increased efficiency of
machinery, it became possible to produce the
finished product at a steadily decreasing cost.

Experience soon showed that the field of
legitimate hardware was not itself sufficiently
comprehensive to enable the jobber and the
retailer to transact a large enough volume of
business commensurate with the cost of doing
this; therefore, kindred fields were invaded and
occupied, and have now become practically in-
corporated as part of the hardware business.
Thus it has been that the great number of
articles which are known as house-furnishing
goods, and embrace such lines as refrigerators,
ice cream freezers, and innumerable other items
which go to make up the objects needed in
every household — and that the line of tinware
and sheet iron, and what also have come to be
known as sporting goods — not only guns,
rifies, and pistols, but athletic supplies — have
become part and parcel of the hardware busi-
ness in addition to the line of cutlery, and quite
a number of other items in lines that were once
entirely separate in themselves and had no rela-
tion to the hardware business. Thus the hard-
ware retail dealer has practically reverted to"
the original type, in the sense of going back to
the plan of the old general store and keeping
pretty much all that his customers need outside
of such lines as drygoods, groceries, and drugs.

Hardware is, to a large extent, naturally the
business of a new country because of the great
amount of building and the clearing of land,
though it is equally true that in the modern
civilized, progressive communities of this coun-
try the use of hardware is in equal proportion
to the demand caused by new countries, and
much more complex and complicated in its
nature.

The history of hardware is naturally the
history of this country, and it can be safely said
that there is no other department of mercantile
business that has so kept pace with the progress
of the United States, nor which to-day depicts
so thoroughly all the characteristics of modern
American character in all its varied details.
Beginning in the crudest way with the manu-
facture of hand-made implements, and depend-
ing almost entirely upon importation from the
Old World for what was needed — even in the
way of necessities of life — it has grown by
giant strides, more especially since the end of
the Civil War, and in many instances largely
because of the protection afforded by the tariff,
until to-day American hardware is practically
independent of the foreigner, save in those rare
instances where we have not as yet learned the
mysteries of manufacture or succeeded in pro-
curing sufficiently skilled workmen to answer
the purpose. The manufacturers of hardware
in America have been original in their ideas
and methods and have adapted themselves abso-
lutely to the necessities of their environments,



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HARDWARE TRADE IN AMERICA



not slavishly following the copies of Old World
tools, but being guided solely by common sense
and necessity. It has followed thus, particu-
larly in edge tools, that there has been such
advancement in the way of appropriateness to
purposes intended and improvement in appear-
ance, finish, and design as can be scarcely
equalled in any other line of business. The
artistic sense has not been lost sight of, but
has been appealed to as well as the sense of
utility. Cutting tools are made just heavy
enough and to avoid the clumsiness of the Old
World itenr* in this regard. Originality has
been shown in the incessant improvement of
existing models and the devising of entirely new
conceptions. The manufacturer has not been
content to follow the custom of ages — has had
little respect for tradition or inheritance, but
has set himself solely to the task of producing
an effective tool at the lowest possible cost.

It is true that in no country in the world
does merit in hardware command the price and
popularity as in the United States, and the his-
tory of manufacturers who have been successful
has been the history of merit, and not because
of cheapness in quality or price. The only
manufacturers who have been successful
for any length of time have been those who
have based their products primarily on quality
and who have had the faith and courage to
maintain this quality in the face, often, of dis-
couraging circumstances. It may be stated as
an axiom that no hardware item of the day
survives for any length of time on any other
basis. The temptation to deteriorate the quality
after the reputation is established and built upon
its quality has always met with sure and per-
manent disaster.

The blacksmith of the smaller town and of
the country was among the earliest makers of
tools and implements, and even to this day in
many localities there still survives a call for his
hand-made products. The hardest fight which
the manufacturers of machine-made articles
have had to face has been to overcome the
feeling, and often prejudice, in favor of the
tool that was made by hand and that seemed
consequently superior — and, as a matter of fact,
the reverse has usually been the case.

Appearance counts for much — probably more
in America than in any other country ; attractive
packages, handsome labels, and beautiful finishes
are as much a part of hardware to-day as the
adaptability and merit of an article. There have
been numerous strides in this regard, particu-
larly when one contemplates the old-fashioned
method of tying up the hardware in heavy paper
with string, a package that was both clumsy
and unsightly. The question of the size and
nature of the package is one of great moment
in the appeal to the public, and the general tenr
dency has been to pack the goods in smaller
and smaller boxes all the time, to insure their
ready sale and prevent breaking the packages,
which is always so detrimental to the goods
themselves, and so expensive to the dealer.

The importation of hardware is almost at an
end, being confined, as before stated, to some
few specialties which are slowly but surely los-
ing their hold upon the public of this country;
but, on the other hand, the exportation of
American hardware — and particularly Ameri-
can edge tools — to all parts of the world is a
large and growing business, and one of great



value to the home manufacturer. The foreign
business has been obtained entirely by the merit
of the American article; its attractiveness, its
novelty, its merit, and its adaptability to the
purpose intended have, after much opposition,,
opened the way for American hardware in all
parts of the world, so that it has steadily gained
ground at the expense of the foreign article.

The steady substitution of machinery for
hand labor has been the most potent cause of
the great success that hardware has made in
the United States. The American -manufac-
turer is never content with present conditions,
but is always endeavoring to find a more effi-
cient and more economical method of producing
the finished article, and consequently endeavors^
to substitute machinery for hand labor. Ameri-
can hardware has, therefore, been placed within
the reach of all, and has largely contributed ta
the comfort and welfare of the people.

The production and the use of hardware
cannot be intelligently considered without refer-
ence to some of the leading conditions of the
country — conditions of soil and climate, as well
as the temperament and nature of the people^
The most far-reaching and enduring change has
been the substitution of what is known as mild
steel for wrought iron, due to the invention of
Sir Henry Bessemer. It has rendered possible
the production of hardware in all brands at very
much lower prices and much more numerous
forms since the production of open hearth and
of Bessemer steel, which thus supplanted those
of cast iron and of wrought iron.

On the other hand, hardware has been very
adversely affected by this change because of the
consequent substitution of steel for wood, and
this is most marked in the erection of the mod-
em sky-scraper, as it is known, where there is
but comparatively little hardware used, efther
in the erection of the building or in its subse-
quent finishing. These buildings having prac-
tically little or no wood in them have small use
for either the carpenter or his various tools*
and all that is left of hardware is a small amount
of locks and trim to decorate the building and
to give it security. This process has gone on
in many ways until apparently it must seriously
affect the continued use of hardware in all
branches of life; but, on the other hand, the
growth of the population has been so great that
this can be safely set down as a discussion of
only academic interest at present.

In a country so diversified as to soil and
climate, there is a necessity of great diversity
of hardware, and the goods used in the dif-
ferent parts of the country invariably reflect the
nature and temper of the people. The South is
much more conservative than the North and
clings longer to old-fashioned articles of well-
known reputation some time after they have
been superseded in the North by more modern
things. Because of the comparative poverty of
the South in the past, and the fact that the
negro is the principal laborer, the demand, until
lately, has been rather for price than for quality.
Again, in the extreme East very much the same
conditions prevail, owing to the natural economy
of the people and their extreme conservatism.
The West — by which is also meant the South-
west and the Northwest — is a great consumer
of hardware, and within its bounds are the great
distributing hardware centres.

The steady and rapid destruction of the



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forests lias had a far-reaching effect upon the
hardware business, and one that is destined to,
in many cases, permanently alter the use and
nature of many hardware implements. In the
beginning the country had to be cleared of for-
ests, which created an enormous demand for all
edge tools and stimulated the ingenuity of the
manufacturers to produce articles fitted for the
different needs — not alone for the different
sections of the country, but also for the various
kinds of wood. Now that the white pine for-
ests have practically been destroyed, it is neces-
sary to have edge tools that are more and more
adapted for use of the hard woods which are still
fairly abundant; and the question also presents
itself to the manufacturers as to how long it
will be possible to keep up the present produc-
tion of such items as axes and cross-cut saws,
in view of the fact that the forests are steadily
disappearing.

It is impossible within the limit of this ar-
ticle to more than briefly mention some of the
leading branches of the hardware business and
tell in a few words of their nature and history.

W ire Industry. — One of the most prominent
to-day is that of the wire Industry, because it
ramifies and affects almost every part of the
hardware business. It early felt the impetus
of the advantages offered by the Bessemer steel
process, since it was possible to produce in wire
made from steel many items which could not
be drawn from wrought iron. It is difficult
to state with exactness — because of its largely
conflicting with other branches of iron and steel
manufacture — but it has probably invested in
its manufacture more than $200,000,000, and its
output in 1905 was something like 15,000,000
tons. Few things have been of greater interest
than the story of barbed wire and its enormous
growth since its introduction. It is probably the
cheapest fencing ever placed upon the market,
and exactly met the demands of the new coun-
try where thousands of acres had to be fenced
in at a time. It is still a product of great ton-
nage, but its place is being slowly but surely
taken by the woven-wire fencing which, though
higher in price, is more effective and is better
suited now fgr the country, which is gradually
being cut up into smaller farms.

iVtfi/ Industry. — The nail industry is a con-
spicuous example of the chance and changes in
manufacture, tor in the beginning the iron cut
nail, first as made by hand and afterward by
machinery, had behind it the prestige of cen-
turies, and seemed to be enduring as an article
of every-day use. It was found, however, that
with the growth of the Bessemer steel business,
the steel cut nail could be made cheaper, al-
though it was not in any way a better article.
Its place, in turn, is being very fastly taken by
the wire nail, which is much more comprehen-
sive in its uses than the steel cut nail, though
the latter style prevails in certain sections and
for certain purposes, but the decline of the
steel cut nail is as marked in its way as the
rapid increase in the use of the wire nail.

Tacks. — The kindred industry is that of
tacks, but it has been seriously hurt by the
expansion of the wire nail since it is possible
to make the latter in many forms and sizes that
are substitutes for tacks. This industry was
founded in Taunton about 75 years a«o, and
for a great number of years was practically con-
fined to New England. It spread gradually
westward to Pittsburg ; there it almost died out,



and has since taken some hold further west in
Cleveland and Chicago. Owing to the encroach-
ment of the wire nail it has declined rather
than advanced, and the number of manufac-
turers has been greatly decreased. The product
is not large — probably not more than 15,000
tons per annum.

Farming Tods. — The making of farming
tools and what are known technically as ^steel
goods* is one of the most important industries
in the hardware line, since with these tools the
crops are cultivated and gathered. The steady
progress of the American manufacturer has been
in the direction of producing items which were
light, strong, and handsome in appearance. The
diversity of soil and climate mean great diver-
sities of various items used in cultivating the
ground, and the number grows each year. The
business does not keep pace with the growth of
the country owing to the steady increasing use
of labor-saving machinery — the mower and the
reaper have taken the place of the snath, the
cradle, and the scythe — the corn binder of the
corn knife, and the corn planter and the culti-
vator have gradually diminished the use of
hoes. The amount of capital invested is not
exactly known, but does not probably exceed
$3,000,000. The absolute importance of these-
tools to the country is rather striking contrasted
with the small annual output in dollars and
cents. See American Farm Implements.

Builders' Hardware.-*- The builders' hard-
ware business is often considered the centre of
tLe hardware trade, because of its great import-
ance as related to the hardware industry as a
whole. Builders' hardware is an exceedingly
comprehensive term and does not admit of exact
definition. It is ordinarily used in reference to
locks (see Locks) and trim and to all the va-
rious items which find employment in the build-
ing of a house. It is a business of immense
complexity and has a most interesting history.
It began far back in JJew Haven and New
Britain, Conn., as early as 1834, and the first
goods were naturally crude and rough. Shortly,,
however, the ingenuity of the American manu-
facturer produced a new article in the shape of
the cast-iron lock, thus departing entirely from
the wrought lock, which was formerly known to-
England, Germany, and France. The cheapness
of the cast-iron lock and its actual efficiency
soon caused it to entirely displace, the foreign
article. Since that time the sheet steel lock has
been made in this country, but in a much smaller
and more condensed form than the wrought lock
of Europe.

Builders' hardware has a most interesting
history since it is in part the story of the devel-
opment of taste in America. The Centennial
Imposition of 1876 did much to educate the
people of this country in the way of good taste
and high artistic ideals. There gradually be-
came a demand for things of daily use which
should have beauty as well as utility, and par-
ticularly of late years this feeling has spread to
locks and trim, and all forms of builders' hard-
ware, with increasing emphasis. The leading
manufacturers have innumerable designs which
are suitable for the different schools of archi-
tecture, such as Gothic, Renaissance, and Colo-
nial, or any of the variations of the standard
schools. All high-grade builders' hardware is
now gotten up in shape and design to match ao-
propriately not alone the building, but each sep-
arate room where the rooms are finished and



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ornamented differently. It is, therefore, largely
a thing of ornament as well as of use, and the
ingenuity of the manufacturer and the salesman
has, been taxed to keep pace with the demands
of the consumer for novelty and appropriate-
ness. It is difficult to more than approximate
the annual production, but it is probably some-
thing like a matter of $25,000,000 in value. The
finest grades of hardware are still made largely
in the East, principally in Connecticut, but the
business is slowly but steadily drifting west in
keeping with the general trend of hardware
manufacture.

Shovels. — The first shovels in this country
were produced as far back as 1776 by Captain
John Ames, who made them by hand in compe-
tition with the English article. The business
then established was carried on there for the
succeeding 27 years, and constituted the nucleus
of the present large concern of the Oliver Ames
& Sons corporation, whose headquarters are in
Northeaston, Mass. Mr. Oliver Ames, the son
of Captain John Ames, established in 1803 a
shovel plant where he soon produced shovels
that were superior to those imported from Eng-
land. In 1797 Thomas Rowland commenced the
manufacture of shovels at Cheltenham, Pa., and
this plant has been in continuous operation ever
since. Business gradually crept westward and
is now spread over the country as far west as
the Mississippi river. By 1854 there was some-
thing like 80,000 dozen shovels produced an-
nually, but with the growth of the country this
product has been largely increased until the an-
nual output is now about 600,000 dozen. As with
all other hand tools, the demand for shovels has
been seriously affected by the introduction and
improvement of labor-saving machinery — such
as the steam shovel, the coal and ore conveyor,
and other mechanical devices for loading and
unloading. It is interesting to note that the
original machinery for making shovels has not
been greatly improved upon so far as the actual
efficiency is concerned, although the variety of
shovels has been greatly increased to meet the
wants and tastes of the different parts of the
country. It is difficult to approximate with any
reasonable degree of accuracy the amount in-
vested in this business, but it is probably in the
neighborhood of $7,000,000.

Saws. — There are few things more diffi-
cult to make than saws, and they have been the
subject of study of some of the most talented
and ingenious manufacturers of the country.
They were manufactured as far back as 1806 in
Philadelphia, though in a very small way. In
1820 a factory was established in Bristol, Conn.,
by Irenus and Rollin Atkins, Rollin Atkins
being the father of E. C. Atkins, the founder of
E. C. Atkins & Company, of Indianapolis, who
now have one of the largest saw plants of the
world. It was necessary to import the first saw



Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 103 of 185)