From age 17, Frederick E. Reed worked for Wood, Light & Co., maker of iron-working machinery and power transmission equipment. In 1875 he bought an interest in the A. F. Prentice & Co. A couple of years later he bought the entire company and operated it under his own name. Reed oversaw a period of rapid expansion, and F. E. Reed became one of the biggest machinists' lathe makers in the world. In 1891 his foreman, John R. Black, became a partner and the firm added "& Co." to the name.
At their peak around 1912, this company employed over 1,000 workers. Their iron foundry supplied castings to other Worcester-area machinery makers, including L. Robbins and P. Blaisdell & Co.
- We have seen an undated 24-page catalog for F. E. Reed & Co. that must post-date 1891 and pre-date 1908. The catalog is of lathes: primarily engine and chucking lathes, but also "hand lathes" for woodworking. The hand lathes were available in 9", 11", 14", 16", and 26" swing, with cast bed and legs. The 9" and 11" sizes were available in bench mount. Correspondent Rich Cizik points out that "in 1908 F.E. Reed Co released a new version of their engine lathes which got rid of the feed belts and replaced it with a gear box under the head inside the bed." Since the catalog shows the older type of engine lathe, it predates 1908; it must post-date 1891 because of the "& Co." in the company name.
- The following information is from Charles Nutt's 1919 work, Worcester and Its People, and was supplied to us by Don Rogers.
At the age of 17, F. E. Reed went to work for the Wood & Light Co. This company, est. in 1848, made iron working machinery as well as pulleys, shafting and hangers. He wound up in the drafting room and did some bookkeeping. In 1875 he bought an interest in the A. F. Prentice Co. that manufactured an improved upright drill, hand and foot powered lathes and special order machinery. In 1877 he bought the entire company and renamed it the F. E. Reed Co. In 1890 John Black became a partner and worked until he retired in 1909.
In 1877 the company employed 6 men and produced about 150 machines a year, in 1912 he owned 8 buildings, employed a thousand men and produced two thousand machines a year. Mr. Reed retired in 1912 and the Reed-Prentice Co. was formed which took over management of the Prentice Bros Co. , The F. E. Reed Co., the Reed Foundry Co., and The Reed-Curtis Machine Screw Co. This corp had a capitalization of $2,000,000. Mr. Reed remained as director. He died in 1917.
- Correspondent Don Rogers has provided us with information received from the Worcester Museum library. The library has an 1897 catalog from F. E. Reed.
- Used machines in 1917 catalog: 10x4 speed lathe, "bolter" with 28" blade.
- The Wikipedia page on Francis Reed provides a biography of the man.