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Pratt, Read Corporation Records

Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Extent:
84 Cubic feet (106 boxes, 28 oversize folders)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Motion pictures (visual works)
Financial records
Employee records
Advertisements
Minute books
Sales records
Design drawings
Manufacturing records
Legal documents
Annual reports
Publications
Photographs
Correspondence
Labels
Stock records
Place:
Ivoryton (Conn.)
Date:
1839-1990
Summary:
Records documenting Pratt, Read and Company; its early competitor and later partner, Comstock, Cheney and Company; and a number of predecessor, subsidiary and related companies. Other topics include the late 19th century African ivory trade and Pratt, Read's production of troop-carrying gliders during World War II.
Scope and Contents:
Pratt, Read & Company, located in the Essex area of Connecticut, was once the world's largest producer of ivory products. Beginning with the manufacture of combs, collar buttons, and toothpicks, the company moved on to the production of piano and organ key veneers, and soon dominated the field. Eventually, it began to produce complete piano and organ keyboards and actions, becoming the major supplier to the American piano industry. The records in this collection document Pratt, Read & Company; its early competitor and later partner, Comstock, Cheney & Company; and a number of predecessor, subsidiary, and related companies. Other topics of interest dealt with in this collection include the late nineteenth century African ivory trade and Pratt, Read's production of troop carrying gliders during World War II.
Arrangement:
The Collection is divided into seven series.

Series 1: Predecessor and Miscellaneous Companies, 1839-1870s

Series 2: Comstock, Cheney and Company, 1863-1936

Series 3: Pratt, Read and Company, 1863-1988

Series 4: Gould Aeronautical Division, 1941-1977

Series 5: Subsidiary and Related Companies, 1859-1980

Series 6: Information on Related Companies, 1977-1992

Series 7; Addenda, 1837-2004
Historical:
Pratt, Read & Company is one of the oldest companies in the state of Connecticut. The firm traces its origins to 1798, when an Essex goldsmith and clockmaker named Phineas Pratt invented a circular saw to cut the teeth on ivory combs. In 1809, George Read and his brother in law, Phineas Pratt II, dammed the Deep River in the nearby town of Deep River and constructed a waterwheel to power ivory cutting machinery. Read left the partnership in 1816, and Phineas Pratt II joined with Alfred Worthington to manufacture ivory combs under the name of Pratt Worthington & Company. When Worthington died in 1830, two of Phineas Pratt II's sons, Ulysses and Alexis, took over the business, operating as U & A Pratt. The name was changed in 1844 to Pratt Spencer & Company, when a new partner was added, and changed again in 1850, to Pratt Brothers & Company. In 1856 the company erected a much larger factory in Deep River.

In the meantime, Julius Pratt, another of Phineas Pratt I's sons, had joined with Thomas Howard to set up an ivory comb factory in the town of Meriden. This firm was known as Howard, Pratt & Company. After Howard's death in 1822, it became Julius Pratt & Company. In 1854, the firm began to produce wooden piano keyboards, which then were fitted with keys of ivory. One half interest in this firm was owned by George Read.

When Read left his original partnership with Phineas Pratt II in 1816, he joined with Essex comb maker Ezra Williams to set up a new ivory working factory in Deep River. This new firm was known as Ezra Williams & Company. In 1829, Read became the senior partner and the company's name was changed to George Read & Company. This company later secured a very important contract to supply ivory keys for the first American manufacturer of pianos, Chickering & Sons of Boston.

In 1863, the firms of George Read & Company, Julius Pratt & Company, and Pratt Brothers & Company, were merged to form Pratt, Read & Company. The new company further enlarged its factory in Deep River in 1866. In 1871, the old Julius Pratt & Company factory in Meriden was closed and its operations moved to Deep River. Though this factory was destroyed by fire in 1881, a larger factory was quickly rebuilt and the company was back in business early in 1882.

With the election of George L. Cheney as president in 1892, Pratt, Read & Company began a period of continued expansion. In December of that year the company joined with another Connecticut piano component manufacturer, Comstock, Cheney & Company, to organize a midwestern manufacturing branch, under the name of the Piano & Organ Supply Company. This firm was to serve the territory west of Toledo, Ohio, operating in competition with its parent companies. In 1929 Pratt, Read and Comstock, Cheney combined to buy out the Piano & Organ Supply Company and it was dissolved.

In 1910 Pratt, Read & Company decided to begin the manufacture of piano actions. An independent manufacturer of piano actions, New York based Wasle & Company, and its subsidiary, the Wasle Unique Player Action Company, were acquired that same year. In 1914, Pratt, Read built a second factory solely for the production of player piano actions in Deep River. Wasle & Company was dissolved in 1919 and its production was continued under the Pratt, Read name. The company soon acquired two additional keyboard and action manufacturers: the Sylvester Tower Company of Cambridge, Mass., was purchased, dissolved, and all its equipment was moved to Deep River in 1924; and Strauch Bros. Company of New York was purchased in 1926. The Deep River player action plant operated until 1928, when business declined and production of player piano actions was discontinued in favor of manufacturing small motorboats. This line of business also soon declined and the project was abandoned by 1932.

COMSTOCK, CHENEY & COMPANY. Meanwhile, other manufacturers of ivory products had been at work in the Essex area. Chief among these was the firm of Comstock, Cheney & Company of Ivoryton. The dominant figure in this company was Samuel M. Comstock. He had learned the ivory cutting trade while working in his older brother's Saybrook area ivory cutting shop, known as Joseph A. Comstock & Company. By 1838, Samuel had left his brother's shop and joined with Edwin Griswold to set up Comstock & Griswold Company further west up the Falls River in Centerbrook. In 1848, the company moved its operations to a new factory in the Ivoryton area, where combs, toothpicks, and other ivory products were made. At the same time, the firm's name was changed to S. M. Comstock & Company, reflecting Samuel's sole ownership.

In 1860, Samuel Comstock allied his firm with George A. Cheney to form Comstock, Cheney & Company. Cheney had invested in Comstock's firm and was one of the principals in the important New York based ivory importing firm of Arnold, Cheney & Company. The new firm began production of thin slices of ivory for mounting on wooden piano keys. It also had its own agents buying ivory in Africa, most of which went toward production of piano keys. The company was formally incorporated in 1872 and in 1873 it opened an even larger factory in Ivoryton.

1936 MERGER. On December 31, l936, Pratt, Read & Company of Deep River was consolidated and merged with Comstock, Cheney & Company of Ivoryton. The resulting corporation was titled Pratt, Read & Company, Inc. By l938, all manufacturing operations had been consolidated in Ivoryton and the Deep River factory closed. During World War II, both the Deep River factory and the Ivoryton factory were used to produce CG 4A "Waco" troop carrying gliders for the U.S. Army Air Forces, along with LNE 1 training gliders and the GLOMB experimental plane for the U.S. Navy. Production of piano keyboards and actions was sharply curtailed for the duration of the war, and was slow to resume afterward. In l946 the Deep River factory was sold.

From 1948 to l957, the Ivoryton factory was enlarged and modernized on a large scale. During the Korean War, the company contracted to make helicopter blades for the Kaman Corporation of Bloomfield, Conn., and this partnership lasted for fourteen years. In l958, Pratt, Read transferred all of its piano action manufacturing operations to a newly built plant in Central, S.C. This move was made primarily in order to modernize production facilities at a lower cost than would have been possible through continued renovation of the Ivoryton plant.

With the election of Peter H. Comstock (a great grandson of one of the founders of Comstock, Cheney & Company) as President in 1954, the firm began an ambitious plan of diversification. The Cornwall & Patterson Company of Bridgeport, Conn., manufacturer of piano hardware, was purchased in l957. In 1959, Pratt, Read joined with six British Commonwealth firms to acquire British Piano Actions, Ltd., of Wales. Keyboards, Inc., a Chicago based producer of keyboards for electronic organs, was acquired in 1960. The Tech Art Plastics Company of Morristown, N.J., a custom molder of plastics materials especially for the piano industry, was acquired in 1961. The F. Kelly Company of Derby, Conn., which specialized in the production of small metal parts, was acquired in l964, and operated as a division of Cornwall & Patterson. In l966, Pratt, Read purchased the Allen Rogers Corporation of Laconia, N.H., which produced wooden furniture and piano components.

MERGER WITH VOCALINE COMPANY. In February l968, Pratt, Read & Company, Inc., was merged into the Vocaline Company of America, Inc., of Old Saybrook, Conn. Peter H. Comstock became chairman and chief executive officer of Vocaline Corporation, while remaining president of Pratt, Read. Vocaline was then organized into two major divisions the Vocaline Division and the Pratt, Read Division. The Pratt, Read Division concentrated on the production of piano keys and actions. It operated three subdivisions: the Ivoryton Division (keyboards, wooden and plastic moldings, and unfinished furniture); the Action Division (piano actions); and the Lund Division, formerly Keyboards, Inc., (electronic organ components). Both of the latter divisions operated out of the Central, S.C., plant. The Lund Division was known as the Electronics Division by 1970.

The Vocaline Division produced and sold electric motors, timing devices, and other small electromechanical mechanisms through its Electronics Section and its Bristol Motor and Timer Section. Another subsidiary of the Vocaline Division Altron, Inc., based in Westerly, R.I. produced wire coils. Through its Research and Development Center in Waldboro, Maine, Vocaline conducted antisubmarine warfare research for the U.S. Navy. By 1970, the Vocaline Division had been streamlined into four divisions: the Allen Rogers Corporation (small shaped wood products); Altron, Inc. (wire coils); the Bristol Division, later known as the Bristol Saybrook Company (electric motors and timers); and the Cornwall & Patterson Company (piano hardware and small tools). In addition, research for the Navy had been expanded and combined with other oceanographic research under the control of a subsidiary company, VAST, Inc., with operations in both Maine and the Caribbean.

PRATT READ CORPORATION. In October 1970, the Vocaline Corporation changed its name to the Pratt Read Corporation. This was done partly to increase identity with its oldest traditions and partly to reflect a shift away from the early emphasis on the Vocaline side of the corporation. The new corporation continued to refine its interests under the direction of Peter H. Comstock, who became company president in February 1970. The Tech Arts Plastic Company was sold off in May 1972, although it remained a source of supply for custom molded parts. In 1974 Pratt Read purchased the Atlas Plywood Company of Morrisville, Vt., in order to use its mill and kilns in the preparation of lumber for the Ivoryton factory, whose own facilities were overburdened. This company was operated as a subsidiary of Pratt Read.

By 1976, the Pratt Read Corporation was organized into five operating divisions. The Allen Rogers Corporation produced toys, golf tees, spools, knobs, and other turned and shaped wood products. Altron, Inc., produced bobbins and coils of copper wire. The Bristol Saybrook Company produced small electric motors and timers. The Cornwall & Patterson Company produced piano hardware parts, screwdriver blades, and other small hand tools. Pratt, Read & Company produced wooden components for pianos and other musical instruments. The company's ownership of VAST, Inc., was sold off in March 1976. Later that year, the company acquired Sight Line Corporation, a Freehold, N.J., manufacturer of golf clubs. This subsidiary, operated as the Sounder Sports Division, was sold in May 1979.

In October of 1979, James H. Tucker replaced Peter H. Comstock as president of Pratt Read; Comstock remained chairman of the board and chief executive officer. His nephew, Harwood B. Comstock, became the next president in October 1982. In June 1982, the Ivoryton factory was severely damaged by flooding after two dams burst upstream during a torrential rainstorm. Although the administrative offices were destroyed and the plant filled with several feet of mud and debris, the facility was back in production within two weeks. In August 1982, Pratt Read acquired the Sohmer Piano Company, a 111 year old Long Island based manufacturer of pianos, and in December 1982 Sohmer's production facilities were moved into the Ivoryton factory. By July 1983 Sohmer was producing about six upright pianos a day in its new location.

By the early 1980s, the American piano industry had entered a period of decline and even Peter Comstock's diversification efforts could not keep it out of trouble. A major blow came in 1984 with the loss of a large contract to manufacture keyboards for Mattel Electronics's Intellivision home video system. This was exacerbated by a slump in the piano industry in mid year. The increased import of Japanese and Korean pianos further undercut the American industry, resulting in slowdowns and profit losses for Pratt Read. Attempting to compete on the same basis with this foreign competition, Pratt Read joined with the Baldwin Piano and Organ Company in May 1985 to establish the Pratt Win Corporation. This joint venture resulted in the closing of Pratt Read's Central, S.C., piano action manufacturing plant and the transfer of its operations to a new Baldwin plant in Juarez, Mexico. Pratt Read sold its interest in Pratt Win to Baldwin in October 1986.

Piano sales continued to decline, however, and Pratt Read continued to suffer losses. In March 1986, the company was acquired by Crescent & Company, a corporation controlled by Harwood B. Comstock, president of Pratt, Read & Company. It became a wholly owned subsidiary of Crescent & Company, but retained the name Pratt Read Corporation. In April 1986, the company sold its Sohmer piano subsidiary together with the Ivoryton factory where it was housed; Sohmer & Company continued to produce upright pianos under independent ownership in Ivoryton until December 1988. In December 1986 the Bristol Saybrook Company was sold off. By 1990, the company had sold off all remaining assets except for a sawmill in Vermont and the Cornwall & Patterson Company in Bridgeport, Conn., where the remaining corporate staff relocated.

Sources

Deep River Historical Society, Inc. A History of Pratt Read & Co. 1973.

1899 Souvenir of Essex, Connecticut. Rpt., The Ivoryton Public Library, 1979.

Johnson, Curtiss S. "From Ivory Combs to Carnegie Hall and Today:The History of the Pratt Read Corporation." [Unpublished history in the collection.]

Moore, Ernst D. "History of Pratt, Read & Company." [Unpublished history in the Ernst D. Moore Collection, Archives Center Collection #321.]

Newspaper Clippings in the collection.

Pratt Read Corporation. Annual Reports.

Vocaline Corporation. Annual Report, 1970.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History:
Records relating to Pratt, Read and to Comstock, Cheney can be found in a number of other collections, both within the Archives Center and in other repositories. The Wood & Brooks Company Records (Archives Center coll. #457) contain significant information on Pratt, Read's operations and an important record of production statistics gathered by George Wood while he was factory superintendent and taken with him when he set up a rival firm in Buffalo. While the Ernst Moore Collection (Archives Center coll. #321) primarily documents the purchase of ivory in Africa (much of which was ultimately used by Pratt, Read), it also includes a history of Pratt, Read written by Moore while he was employed by them. The Sohmer & Company Records (Archives Center coll. #349) document the piano manufacturing firm that Pratt Read acquired in 1982.
Separated Materials:
"The Pratt Read Corporation also donated a number of objects to the National Museum of American History, Division of Cultural and Community Life and Division of Work and Industry at the same time as their 1988 donation of archival records. Included were combs and letter openers and other examples of products made from ivory; piano components, such as gauge boards, key actions, and keys; and such diverse items as tools used in the factory, World War II employee I.D. badges, and a uniform from the company sponsored basketball team.

"
Provenance:
Donated by Pratt, Read Corporation in 1989. In addition to the papers donated by the company, several individuals donated Pratt, Read materials in their possession.
Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Piano  Search this
Ivory industry  Search this
Piano makers  Search this
Ivory  Search this
Gliders (Aeronautics)  Search this
Genre/Form:
Motion pictures (visual works)
Financial records
Employee records
Advertisements -- 20th century
Minute books
Sales records
Design drawings
Manufacturing Records
Legal documents
Annual reports
Publications
Photographs -- 19th century
Correspondence -- 19th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Labels
Stock records
Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0320
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0320
Online Media:

Manufacturing Records

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1944-1945
Scope and Contents:
MANUFACTURING RECORDS, 1944-1945, consist primarily of various aircraft specifications published by the Army during the war. The REAL ESTATE RECORDS, 1942-1944, consist of photographs showing the construction of a plant for CG 4A glider assembly and floorplans of the main factory in Deep River, which show how the plant was arranged for glider production.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0320, Subseries 4.3
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 4: Gould Aeronautical Division
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref275

Aircraft Specifications, 1944-1945

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Container:
Box 68, Folder 1-2
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 4: Gould Aeronautical Division / 4.3: Manufacturing Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref734

Disposition of CG 4A Material, 1944

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Container:
Box 68, Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 4: Gould Aeronautical Division / 4.3: Manufacturing Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref735

Packing Slip for CG 4A Nose Section, 1944

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Container:
Box 68, Folder 4
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 4: Gould Aeronautical Division / 4.3: Manufacturing Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref736

Ivory Purchase Journal, 1916-1936

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Container:
Box 87
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 2: Comstock, Cheney and Company / 2.10: Manufacturing Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref116

Register of Lumber Received, 1926-1936

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Container:
Box 10 (Series 2), Folder 7
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 2: Comstock, Cheney and Company / 2.10: Manufacturing Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref117

Piano and Keyboard Component Order Book, 1877 1879

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Container:
Box 11, Folder 1
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 2: Comstock, Cheney and Company / 2.10: Manufacturing Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref118

Sharp Production Record Book, 1874-1880 [In same volume]

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Container:
Box 10 (Series 2), Folder 6
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 2: Comstock, Cheney and Company / 2.10: Manufacturing Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref119

Key Production Record Book, 1916-1930

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Container:
Box 11, Folder 2
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 2: Comstock, Cheney and Company / 2.10: Manufacturing Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref120

Piano Action Drawings, ca. 1906 (2 items)

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Container:
Box 11, Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 2: Comstock, Cheney and Company / 2.10: Manufacturing Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref121

Piano Action Drawings, 1936 (7 items)

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Container:
Box 11, Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 2: Comstock, Cheney and Company / 2.10: Manufacturing Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref122

Information on Damp Proofing of Piano Actions, 1925-1933

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Container:
Box 11, Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 2: Comstock, Cheney and Company / 2.10: Manufacturing Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref123

Comstock, Cheney and Company

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1863-1936
Scope and Contents:
The records in series two, comprising approximately six cubic feet, relate to Comstock, Cheney & Company. They date from 1863 to the company's merger with Pratt, Read & Company in 1936. The series is divided into twelve subseries: Executive Records, Correspondence, Stock Records, Legal Records, Financial Records, Sales Records, Personnel Records, Real Estate Records, Machinery Records, Manufacturing Records, Photoprints, and Photonegatives. The EXECUTIVE RECORDS consist of organization papers from 1872 and the complete set of corporate minute books from the company's incorporation in 1872 through its merger with Pratt, Read & Company in 1936.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0320, Series 2
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref46

Manufacturing Records

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents:
The MANUFACTURING RECORDS, 1874-1936, document both the materials needed for keyboard production and that production. The ivory purchase journal, for example, provides information on the date, source, number of tusks, weight, price per pound, and total price paid for ivory, 1916-1936. The register of lumber received provides similar information on the many types of wood used in the period 1926- 1936. The piano and keyboard component order book is an alphabetical listing of parts such as locks, pins, and hinges ordered from various supply houses. Production figures are provided by the sharp production record book, 1874 1880, and the key production record book, 1916-1930. These records also include several schematic drawings of piano actions and information on the damp proofing of actions.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0320, Subseries 2.10
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Pratt, Read Corporation Records / Series 2: Comstock, Cheney and Company
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0320-ref66

John Bucheimer Papers

Creator:
Bucheimer, John  Search this
Names:
Head Ski Company.  Search this
Head, Howard, 1914-1991 (inventor, business executive)  Search this
Extent:
4 Cubic feet (11 boxes, 5 map folders)
21 Film reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Film reels
Drawings
Correspondence
Photographs
Business records
Audiovisual materials
Financial records
Blueprints
Date:
1954 - 1977
Summary:
Papers relate to John Bucheimer's work as manager of new product manufacturing in the Engineering Department at Head Ski Company.
Scope and Contents:
These records were assembled and saved by John Bucheimer in conjunction with his work at Head Ski Company. The bulk of the records relates to engineering matters and detail how the skis were manufactured. The records also provide insight into the daily operations and activities of the Head Ski Company factory.

Series 1, Operational Records, 1967-1973, include an organizational chart, company and management profile, annual reports, inter office correspondence, memoranda, management notes, the Management News Bulletin, and plant information. The organizational chart of 1969 provides the job title and name of the employee for specific positions within Head Ski Company, Head Ski and Sportswear, American Athletic Equipment, Wayne Plastics, Wing Archery, and Head International AG.

This series contains the Management News Bulletin, 1967-1970. An internal communication from the president, the news bulletin provided a forum for announcements, resignations, work plans, reorganizations, organizational charts, employee changes, and general work flow issues. While small in size, the content is rich for getting a sense of the management style at Head Ski Company.

The management notes, 1968-1971, are handwritten by Bucheimer and contain information on training, responsibilities, manufacturing expenses, production schedules, regional sales meetings, and job postings. There are a few management pamphlets published by the Economic Press, Inc. These pamphlets provided "tips" to managers. Also, the management notes contain two union fliers addressing the issue of union dues. Both fliers urge employees to "keep your take home pay free from Union dues. Vote no union." Other materials include inventories of office surplus and plant information. There are instructions of how to conduct a tour of the plant and ADT protective service documentation. Bucheimer was the designated ADT card holder for the company.

Series 2, Employee Records, 1957-1973, consist of employee handbooks and insurance materials, a job description for manager of manufacturing projects, and vacation schedules for several employees. Some salary information is here.

Series 3, Marketing/Sales Records, 1969-1972, includes one catalog from 1972, three news releases, sales information, and ski show and shipment information. The ski show materials document specific shows—Canada, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York—and the ski models displayed and, in some instances, orders placed. The special shipments, 1969-1971, include invoices, correspondence, notes, and material move tickets for companies such as Cell Pack, Ltd., Standard Metalwerke, Dura Fiber Corp., and United Shoe Machinery Corp.

Series 4, Financial/Accounting Records, 1967-1971, contains reports, inventories, expenses, and some payroll information. The majority of these records date from September 1969 to October of 1969. The expense statements reveal how much was budgeted and spent for materials, direct labor, payroll taxes, Christmas bonuses, travel, postage, maintenance, and ski parts, to name a few categories. There is some payroll information with the payroll control sheets.

Series 5, Engineering/Manufacturing Records, 1956-1977, comprise the largest and richest series within the collection. The records are subdivided into seven subseries: inventories, instructions, repair information, reports, drawings and specifications, testing information, and miscellaneous.

The inventories provide valuable information on the types of materials used, the quantities, and in some instances the cost. The raw material inventory of 1967 details material types (e.g. glue, plywood, aluminum, poles, saw blades), account numbers, date, quantity, price and actual cost. Like the raw material inventory, the perpetual inventory of 1966 is divided according to material type (e.g. aluminum, plastic, cloth tape, wood, rubber, steel) unit measure (typically in pounds), conversion factor, dates, and a balance amount.

The instructions include detailed information on "how to" for a variety of operations such as aluminum sandblasting bottom ski skin assembly, degreasing nosepieces, and sanding, gluing, and cutting "L" steel edges. The instructions consist of a workplace layout diagram, tools needed, and step by-step instruction elements. Of note is the material flow processes for the company. There are flow charts for each operational sequence performed. There are photographs of equipment with the flow charts, but they are not keyed to specific operational tasks.

The repair information contains procedures and lists of parts for skis. The repair procedures describe the repair needed and what model ski is affected. A detailed description of the repair is documented along with the materials required, tools, and how effective the repair was. The repairs documented here include finishing, grinding, bottom waxing, replacing edges, inlays, and remolding. The company had a program titled "rework" that handled returned skis. Many of the skis documented appear to have had cavity problems and were sent back to be remolded. There is some ski rejection analysis documentation citing why skis are being sent to the rework program. Additional information on cavity problems and production is also here. The parts list, 1969-1970, details various parts used on ski models JR-90, JR-60, 720-TA, 320-W, 240-B, K-short ski, deep powder-DP, Giant Slalom, slalom, 360-AR, 320-E and the downhill models. The part number and name, quantity, and any remarks are provided.

The reports, logs, and notes subseries contain manufacturing and production notes, and a variety of reports documenting engineering department activities. The inter-shift reports, 1963-1967, were maintained in spiral bound shorthand notebooks. They detail daily activities, operational suggestions, reminders to staff, materials available, and what work needs to be completed. Other reports include accidents, 1958-1961, and quality control reports, 1970-1971, which were created daily to provide detailed information on all aspects of the skis at final inspection time. The number of skis inspected with percentage information is summarized. The non-conforming material recovery reports, 1970, give the reasons why skis were rejected and indicate if skis were returned to vendors or used "as is."

The drawings and specifications, 1964-1970, are comprised of oversize drawings ranging from 8" x 10" to 34" x 43 _". The drawings are copies and include information on the short, slalom, giant slalom, downhill, and deep powder skis. The finished ski specifications, 1964-1967, document material types, assembly and subassembly procedures, ski data, ski poles, packaging material, and miscellaneous material. For each specification there is a corresponding instruction/narrative and, in some instances, a drawing.

The testing documentation is material specific (rubber, steel, plastic, adhesives) or ski model specific. It provides some insight into what materials the company worked with and under what conditions, such as, pulling, heating, or actual pilot ski runs. The suppliers, 1971-1973, include forms, receipts, bills, invoices, correspondence, receiving tickets, and descriptive inventories from companies that Head Ski Co. purchased supplies from.

Series 6, The General Files, 1954-1977, cover a variety of miscellaneous topics, such as the National Ski Patrol and postage, and are arranged alphabetically.

Series 7, Moving Image, no date, consists of twenty-one reels of 16 mm film which are unprocessed.

Series 8, Personal Materials, circa 1960s, contain greeting cards and notes and a photograph of Bucheimer with Howard Head.
Arrangement:
Collection organized into eight series.

Series 1: Operational Records, 1967-1973

Series 2: Employee Records, 1957-1973

Series 3: Marketing/Sales Records, 1969-1972

Series 4: Financial/Accounting Records, 1967-1971

Series 5: Engineering/Manufacturing Records, 1956-1977

Subseries 1, Inventories, 1966-1971

Subseries 2, Instructions, 1967-1970

Subseries 3, Repair Information, 1969-1971

Subseries 4, Reports, logs, and notes, 1956-1971

Subseries 5, Drawings and Specifications, 1964-1970

Subseries 6, Testing Information, 1963-1970

Subseries 7, Miscellaneous, 1967-1973

Series 6: General Files, 1954-1977

Series 7: Moving Image, no date

Series 8: Personal Materials, circa 1960s
Biographical / Historical:
John Bucheimer was born on December 7, 1919. During the 1940s, he worked with Howard Head at Glenn L. Martin Company, an aircraft company founded by aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin (1886-1955) in Middle River, Maryland. At Martin, Bucheimer supervised work on planes and oversaw structural testing. Primarily self taught, he learned electronics and drafting skills on the job. Head left the Glenn L. Martin Company to start his own company, Head Ski Company in 1948, and Bucheimer joined him.

Head, a former aircraft engineer, developed, designed, manufactured, and marketed the first metal laminate skis in 1950 called the "Head Standard. These skis revolutionized the industry. They were made of two layers of aluminum bonded around a core of plywood at very high pressure; the outer layer was made of plastic. By 1952, Head introduced skis with edges made of tempered steel. His skis were lighter and faster than wood and earned the nickname "cheaters" by the industry. In 1969, Head introduced a fiberglass/metal ski, but this ski combined with a diversified product line of javelin and aluminum tennis rackets could not strengthen his company nor stop a takeover by AMF in 1970.

At Head Ski Company, Bucheimer held the position of manager of new products manufacturing. He trained employees on every aspect of work flow.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Howard Head Papers, 1926-1991, AC0589

Materials in the National Museum of American History

The Division of Culture and the Arts (now Division of Cultural and Community Life), formerly the Division of Music, Sports, and Entertainment, holds artifacts related to the Howard Head Papers. These artifacts include downhill skis, ski poles, ski boots, ski bindings, and cross sections of downhill skis.
Provenance:
The collection was donated by John Bucheimer on April 26, 2005.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Sporting goods industry  Search this
Skis and skiing  Search this
Genre/Form:
Drawings -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 1950-2000
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 1950-2000
Business records -- 1950-2000
Audiovisual materials
Financial records -- 20th century
Blueprints -- 1950-2000
Citation:
John Bucheimer Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0889
See more items in:
John Bucheimer Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0889
Online Media:

Repair procedures

Collection Creator:
Bucheimer, John  Search this
Container:
Box 7, Folder 3-4
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1969 - 1971
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
John Bucheimer Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
John Bucheimer Papers
John Bucheimer Papers / Series 5: Engineering/Manufacturing Records / 5.3: Repair Information
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0889-ref100

Parts list for skis

Collection Creator:
Bucheimer, John  Search this
Container:
Box 7, Folder 5
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1969 - 1970
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
John Bucheimer Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
John Bucheimer Papers
John Bucheimer Papers / Series 5: Engineering/Manufacturing Records / 5.3: Repair Information
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0889-ref101

Parts list for skis

Collection Creator:
Bucheimer, John  Search this
Container:
Box 7, Folder 6
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1970
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
John Bucheimer Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
John Bucheimer Papers
John Bucheimer Papers / Series 5: Engineering/Manufacturing Records / 5.3: Repair Information
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0889-ref102

Parts list for skis

Collection Creator:
Bucheimer, John  Search this
Container:
Box 7, Folder 7
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1971
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
John Bucheimer Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
John Bucheimer Papers
John Bucheimer Papers / Series 5: Engineering/Manufacturing Records / 5.3: Repair Information
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0889-ref103

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