|| Less than a mile from
the center of the city of Providence, within a short distance of all the
railroad and steamship depots, are situated the main factories of the Nicholson
File Company. These buildings are entirely of brick, well lighted
and ventilated, and designed especially for manufacturing files.
They are full of special machinery and appliances, and collectively represent
the life work of Mr. William Thomas Nicholson, the founder of the
Nicholson File Company and the successful developer of the machine file
Mr. Nicholson early manifested that love for
mechanics which he was to afterwards put to such practical use. Previous
to the civil war he engaged in the machine tool business, and it was while
operating a machine shop on his own account that he developed his ideas
on machine file making and built his first file cutting machine.
Believing that he could hope to make a success only by fully understanding
the details of the business as it then existed, he devoted himself to the
study of file making in all it's branches, carrying his investigations
to Europe, which at that time supplied the greater number of files used
in America, and where he spent considerable time investigating this and
kindred industries, especially the manufacture and treatment of steel.
In 1864 the Nicholson File Company was incorporated,
and proceeded at once to erect a plant at Providence, R.I. This plant,
it was at that time hoped, might be developed to a production of 300 dozen
files per day. Business, however, was not easily obtained.
Several similar enterprises were at that date in full operation.
These were destined soon to prove failures, and to sink over $2,000,000
in the vain attempt to manufacture files by machinery. These failures,
and the fact that the large numbers of poor machine-made files had been
placed on the market, were quickly used by the hand cutters, both in this
country and abroad, as conclusive arguments to prove that all machine-made
files were inferior. This opposition was a cause of much delay in
getting even a trial for the new files, and the first years were full of
Believing in his files, Mr. Nicholson kept the products
of this company constantly before the public, and the superior merits quickly
manifesting themselves, the Nicholson Increment Cut Files gradually became
the standard files of America. The business grew, and increased facilities
resulted.Then the manufacture of fine files for jewelers, watchmakers,
and the finest work was added, and at the time of his death in October,
1893, Mr. Nicholson had seen the original capacity of this company's works
at Providence increased from the small beginnings to over 3,000 dozen files
per day, and an unequaled file manufacturing plant and organization established,
capable of meeting the wants of every industry, thus realizing what had
long been his cherished desire.
In 1890 the Nicholson File Company acquired
the valuable plant for many years known as the American File Company, located
at Pawtucket, R.I., and about four miles from the principle factories.
These works, since coming into the possession of this company, have been
operated in manufacturing the "American" brand of files, and have the capacity
of upwards of 1200 dozen files per day. The products of the Nicholson
File Company now have a world-reputation; and when it is understood that
they manufacture at their Providence factories alone over 3,000 different
kinds of standard files, and that each file is handled many times during
its manufacture, some conception of the great detail of this business can
be formed, and of the varied and complicated machine necessary for
economical production, as well as the credit due Mr. Nicholson for the
persistency and inventive genius displayed in developing this industry.
Mr. Nicholson was never satisfied to
produce anything but the best, believing that a uniform quality, and one
which should give the greatest efficiency were the requisites of the truly
cheap articles of commerce.
With the past before them, the present
management propose to continue to merit the preference accorded only after
much hard work and struggling, and which once attained has never departed
from the Nicholson Increment Cut Files.