Rhode Island Commercial & Illustrated Mail
1903 Nicholson File Company Corner Card - Providence, RI
to Nyssens Freres
(Nyssens Brothers) - Antwerp Belgium

Handy File

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 architecture

New York City
Foreign Branch
Receiving Cancel

on Reverse

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.

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