Commercial & Illustrated Mail
1903 Nicholson File
Company Corner Card - Providence, RI
to Nyssens Freres (Nyssens Brothers)
- Antwerp Belgium
The Nicholson File Company was founded in 1864
by William R. Nicholson. By 1891 Nicholson claimed over 98 patents,
including some used by Providence's jewelry trade. In 1893 it was the
largest file making company in the world, employing over 250 workers
and producing over 1500 files and rasps daily.
The company continued to expand
and by 1903 when this letter was sent, the company consisted of 6
plants; several of which were outside the state, employed 2500 workers
and was producing over 10,000 files and rasps a day.
The original Nicholson Plant
remains virtually intact today and covers an entire city block,
however none of the original machinery or steam engines still survive.
The main building is a 2-story brick structure with a pitched roof, a
central cross-gable on the side street, segmental - arch windows, and
a corbelled cornice. A 2-story brick
office building with a mansard roof is also extant.
Note: Corbel -
in architecture, bracket or weight-carrying
member, built deeply into the wall so that the pressure on its
embedded portion counteracts any tendency to overturn or fall outward.
Structural Corbelling has fallen out of general use in contemporary
New York City
William Thomas Nicholson was
born in 1834. He began designing and patenting industrial files in
the mid 1850s, however during the Civil War he put the file business
on hold and formed a partnership with Henry Monroe to produce
Springfield rifles for the Union Army. In 1864 Nicholson sold his
interest in the rifle company and started the Nicholson File Company.
William Nicholson died in 1893
and his son Colonel Samuel M. Nicholson took over the company. The
company began manufacturing other tools such as rasps in 1901 and by
1902 the company was selling its wares in over 40 countries worldwide.
Colonel Nicholson's grandson, Paul C. Nicholson, Jr. took over the
company in the mid 1920s. The company continued to prosper under his
leadership until 1969 when the first non-family member, George
Williams took over the management of the firm.
In 1972 the company was taken
over by Cooper Industries of Houston, Texas. Nicholson Files and Rasps
are still being manufactured and sold today as a part of the tool
division of Cooper Industries.
Note: The file shown
above is one of the company's current products.
Rhode Island - An Inventory of Historic
Engineering and Industrial Sites - 1978
The Rhode Island