Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Miller Brothers Cutlery Company

Today, on a writing Friday, I'm cheating a bit and bringing you a 1918 Miller Brothers Pens ad playing with the idea that the pen is mightier than the sword. The thought that an idea can accomplish what militarism cannot seems like a sentiment that could use a little more traction in these days of drone strikes and terrorist threats. Hopefully 2014 will be a year with less death and destruction and more world-changing ideas.

Ironically, Miller Brothers started as a cutlery company based in Meriden, Connecticut (at the time of this ad) where they produced pocket knives before they branched out into the manufacture of ink pen nibs in 1882. The early days of American cutlery and pen manufacturing were hard, makers like Miller Brothers faced a centuries old English industry with a reputation for high quality as well as cheap imported goods from Germany. Eventually, leaders of the American pen and knife industry convinced congress to impose a 12 cent per pound duty on imported steel pens and American manufactures got their feet.

The Miller Brothers factory in Meriden was a big deal for the time, employing over 100 workers in the manufacture of pocket knives, steel ink erasers (which removed the ink by scraping it from the paper), and pen nibs and images of the building appear in various atlases, guide books, and maps of the era. Unfortunately I haven't found an address which makes it impossible to use Google Earth to see if the building still stands. Something tells me it doesn't. "Progress" has a way of obliterating the past.


Patrick Ladd said...

I believe this building is located at 465 Pratt St, Meriden, CT. And it looks like the building still exists. Here's how the building looks today:

Google maps won't properly geocode it's location (thinks the street is Pratt St Ext). Go here to learn more about building (I think they are apartments now) http://giswebsrvr/meriden/LaunchGIS.aspx#/TaxMap

I figured out the address by finding the listing at bottom of 1918 map located here:

Austin Alexander said...

Looks like the street extended farther before the freeway was put in. The building was probably right around where the over pass is now.