|Repository:||G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport|
|Creator:||Wilcox, Crittenden & Co.|
|Title:||Records of Wilcox, Crittenden & Co.|
|Abstract:||Ledgers, journals, cashbooks, daybooks, payroll records, check stub books, and other materials.|
In 1847, Middletown was New England’s largest inland port, and it was in that year the company that would become Wilcox, Crittenden & Co., Inc. was established. According to the centennial history of the company, it was in Ben Butler’s sail loft in Middletown that Eldridge Penfield first conceived of developing a metal grommet (later to be called the sail eyelet grommet) to replace the rope grommets that were currently being used by sailmakers.
In partnership with his uncle, Ira Penfield, Eldridge Penfield formed the firm of E. H. & I. K. Penfield. The business was opened in a small building at the rear of the property located at Main and William Street in Middletown, and was the first company in America to produce metal grommets. The first grommets were stamped out using hand presses which were operated by the partners and by William Walter Wilcox, whom they had hired.
For the next two years, Penfield tried to market the new grommets by utilizing traveling salesmen who brought and sold on consignment and kept most of the profits. After this unsuccessful period, Eldridge Penfield sold out his interest to Ira Penfield, and Wilcox invested his savings and became a partner in the new firm called Penfield & Wilcox.
By using more direct marketing techniques, Wilcox was able to overcome the opposition that developed on the part of journeymen sailmakers who feared that the use of the new grommet would reduce the need for their services. The company prospered and added other items to their inventory based on the needs of sailmakers. In 1857, Wilcox invented and patented a new and improved grommet made in three parts which was even more successful than the original device. He also invented a round-edged sail thimble which replaced the iron, sharp-edged thimble previously in use.
The partnership of Penfield & Wilcox was dissolved circa 1859, when Ira Penfield retired. Wilcox moved the business and took into partnership Joseph Hall, Jr. of Portland, CT and formed the firm of Wilcox & Hall, which continued until 1867 when Hall retired and sold his interest to Wilcox.
In 1869, Wilcox formed a partnership with three of the younger men of his organization, Albert R. Crittenden, E. Bound Chaffee, and Homer Churchill. Crittenden purchased a tenth interest in the business for $5,000, and name of the firm was changed to Wilcox, Crittenden & Company.
In the maritime world, steam was gradually replacing sail, and the company’s 1870 catalog offered such varying products as shackles, thimbles, ring bolts, “Ereful whistles,” engine-room signals, boat nails “of good Swede’s steel heavily galvanized,” and cotton hooks “New Orleans pattern.” A new outlet for sailmakers was in manufacturing awnings and the company began stocking awning hardware as well. In 1883, Wilcox developed an improved brass grommet (which became known as the spur grommet), secured its approval as standard equipment by the British Admiralty, and eventually it was adopted by all the leading navies of the world. By the late 1880’s, Wilcox, Crittenden & Company had become the largest manufacturers of marine hardware with the most diversified line in the United States.
The company survived a fire in 1907 which destroyed a large portion of the plant. They maintained during the World Wars and the Depression and by 1961, Wilcox, Crittenden & Co., Inc. was a division of North & Judd Manufacturing Co. By 1971 it was a Gulf + Western Precision Engineering Company, and by 1975, a division of Gulf + Western Manufacturing Company.
Restrictions on Access
Available for use in the Manuscripts Division.
Restrictions on Use
Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Crittenden, Albert R.
Wilcox, William W.–(William Walter)
Masts and rigging
Ships–Equipment and supplies
Coll. 231, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.
|1||Ledger A; 1869-1874|
|2||Ledger B; 1874-1879|
|3||Ledger C; 1879-1884|
|4||Ledger D; 1884-1887|
|5||Ledger E; 1888-1890|
|6||Ledger F; 1891-1893|
|7||Purchase Ledger 1; 1893-1896|
|8||Purchase Ledger 2; 1897-1903|
|9||Sales Ledger 1; 1893-1895|
|10||Sales Ledger 2; 1895-1897|
|11||Sales Ledger 3; 1897-1899|
|12||Sales Ledger 4; 1899-1901|
|13||Sales Ledger 5; 1901-1903|
|14||Journal B; 1872 Jul-1875 Apr|
|15||Journal D; 1878 Apr-1881 Mar|
|16||Journal E; 1881 Apr-1883 Aug|
|17||Journal F; 1883 Sep-1885 Dec|
|18||Journal G; 1886 Jan-1888 Mar|
|19||Journal H; 1888 Apr-1890 Apr|
|20||Journal I; 1890 May-1892 Mar|
|21||Journal J; 1892 Apr-1893 Aug|
|22||Journal 1; 1893 Jul-1901 May|
|23||Journal 3; 1906 Jan-1910 Sep|
|Cash Books; 1869-1910|
|24||Cash Book A; 1869 Jan-1874 Sep|
|25||Cash Book B; 1874 Oct-1879 Jun|
|26||Cash Book C; 1879 Jun-1884 Oct|
|27||Cash Book D; 1884 Nov-1889 Aug|
|28||Cash Book E; 1889 Aug-1893 Jun|
|29||Cash Book 1; 1893 Jul-1899 Apr|
|30||Cash Book 2; 1899 May-1903 Oct|
|31||Cash Book 3; 1903 No-1908 May|
|32||Cash Book 4; 1908 Jun-1910 Apr|
|Day Books; 1869-1911|
|33||Day Book A; 1869 Jan-1872 Aug|
|34||Day Book B; 1872 Sep-1875 Jul|
|35||Day Book C; 1875 Jul-1878 Oct|
|36||Day Book D; 1878 Oct-1882 Feb|
|37||Day Book E; 1882 Mar-1884 Jun|
|38||Day Book F; 1884 Jun-1887 Aug|
|39||Day Book G; 1887 Sep-1890 Jul|
|40||Day Book H; 1890 Jul-1892 Oct|
|41||Day Book I; 1892 Oct-1904 Dec|
|42||Day Book J; 1905 Jan-1900 Nov|
|43||Payroll 1; 1880 Jul-1884 Jan|
|44||Payroll 2; 1884 Feb-1887 Aug|
|45||Payroll 3; 1899 Feb-1900 Nov|
|Trial Balance; ca. 1882-1890|
|46||Trial Balance; 1882 Sep-1888 Dec|
|47||Trial Balance; ca. 1890s|
|Check Stub Books; 1908-1915|
|48||Check number 33, 999-24,998; 1908 Jun-1909 Jan|
|49||Check number 42,999-43,998; 1912 Apr-Sep|
|50||Check number 43,999-44,998; 1912 Sep-1913 Feb|
|51||Check number 44,999-45,998; 1913 Feb-Jun|
|52||Check number 45,999-47,998; 1913 Jun-Oct|
|53||Check number 47,999-48,998; 1913 Oct-1914 Mar|
|54||Check number 48,999-49,998; 1914 Mar-Jul|
|55||“Drafts” nos. 5530-6529; 1911 Dec-1915 Feb|
|56||Index to unidentified W. C. & Co. volume, “Burr’s Combination Index”|
|57||Index to unidentified W. C. & Co. volume, “Burr’s Combination Index-6”|
|58||Index to unidentified W. C. & Co. volume, “Burr’s Combination Index 7-8”|