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Manufacturers Index - Lemuel Hedge

Lemuel Hedge
Windsor, VT; Brattleboro, VT; New York, NY; Brooklyn, NY; Paterson, NJ, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery

History
Last Modified: Sep 21 2010 3:22PM by Jeff_Joslin
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Lemuel Hedge was best known as a rule maker, but he also patented several woodworking machines. His history as a designer of woodworking machinery is known primarily from patent records, spanning 1814 to 1857 (his earliest patents were not reconstructed after the 1836 patent-office fire).

Hedge patented an early planing machine, a circular sawmill, an early bandsaw, and a subsequent bandsaw design of real ingenuity (though a genetic dead end). An 1857 reissue of his first bandsaw patent notes that Hedge was by then deceased.

Information Sources

  • Clifford Fales wrote an article on a rule joint designed by Hedge.
  • The July 30, 1853 issue of Scientific American carried this notice:
    "IN CONSEQUENCE OF A NOTICE of a graduating engine, which was inserted in the Scientific American of the 18th of June last, we (my father and myself) are perfectly deluged with letters from every part of the country, inquiring the price of the machine, and for a description of it; its mode of operation, of its applicability to various purposes, etc., etc. Now my father, Lemuel Hedge (not Samuel Hodge), of Paterson, N. J., who is the inventor and sole proprietor of the machine, wishes the public, and all interested, to be informed through the medium of your paper, that the machine is not for sale, and that no description of it or its mode of operation will be given either publicly or otherwise.
    MORTIMER HEDGE,
    Westport, Mass., July 14 1853."
  • Proceedings of the Vermont Historical Society, 1921:

    At about this time Windsor introduced to the world her first strictly "home grown" mechanical genius, in the person of Mr. Lemuel Hedge, who should be classed as one of the eminent American inventors.

    Lemuel Hedge, son of Solomon Hedge, one of the earliest Windsor blacksmiths, was born at Windsor on November 2, 1786. He received his first mechanical training as "striker" for his father, but being a born mechanic he was attracted to the finer work of cabinet making, and learned that trade, which was in those days of wooden machinery, closely allied to that of machine building.

    In those days there held forth at Windsor a character by the name of Thomas Pomroy, who carried on the combined businesses of printer, book binder, book seller and stationer in the "Tontine Block", a wooden building and the largest in the business district.

    Hedge's Ruling Machine, Organ And Dividing Scale

    In this shop of Thomas Pomroy, the inventive Lemuel Hedge watched the tedious process of ruling blank books by hand, and as a result he invented and patented on June 21, 1815, and March 3, 1817, respectively, his ingenious "Spring Pen Ruler" and "Revolving Ruling Machine" which in combination would rule a ream of ledger paper on both sides in twelve minutes, and which inventions form the basis of all modern ruling machines. These two are probably the first Windsor patents.

    The inventor and stationer went into partnership under the name of Pomroy & Hedge, and in the fall of 1818 fitted up a 91 x 40 foot shop on the first floor of the Tontine Building for the quantity manufacture of the Hedge ruling machines. In the midst of these preparations, early in the morning of November 25,1818, the Tontine Block burned to the ground, and this promising industry was completely wiped out at a loss of $3,500 to Pomroy & Hedge. In an attempt to recoup his shattered fortunes, Lemuel Hedge set out on a long journey through the West and South selling State Rights to manufacture and sell his ruling machines, and through this procedure their use became wide spread with no great benefit either to the young inventor or to his home town.

    After this journey Hedge returned to Windsor and set up as a cabinet maker and organ builder, becoming skilled in this latter art and building many fine organs with mahogany cases for the old time meeting houses, the historic "Old South Church" at Windsor among others, at the time when organ music first ceased to be looked upon with suspicion.

    His keen and restless mind was constantly at work upon mechanical inventions and on June 20, 1827, he patented at Windsor his "Engine for Dividing Scales," mentioned by Bishop as one of the notable inventions of that year. This pioneer machine for the rapid and accurate automatic marking and numbering of mechanics' scales was of national importance in the development of the machine industry, for by the quantity production of cheap and accurate scales it unified the linear measurement system of the country, which made possible the Interchangeable or American System of manufacture as we know it today.

    Hedge built and for some time operated this Dividing Engine at Windsor, but being unable to finance a very extensive scale factory in his town, he interested Mr. E. A. Stearns, a Brattleboro capitalist, in the proposition and in 1830 they organized E. A. Stearns & Company at Brattleboro, where Hedge spent the next ten years in perfecting his machinery, manufacturing scales in great quantity and incidentally inventing that familiar instrument, the Carpenters' Folding Two Foot Rule.

    In 1840 Lemuel Hedge sold out his interests to Mr. Stearns and went to New York City where he set up as a Mechanical Engineer and Inventor. E. A. Stearns & Company did a thriving business at Brattleboro under the original name until 1862, when they sold out to Mr. Charles L. Mead. In 1868 Mr. Mead became treasurer of the Stanley Rule & Level Company of New Britain, Connecticut, and consolidated his Brattleboro business with this latter one. The amalgamated businesses exist today as the great Stanley Works of New Britain, one of the largest tool and hardware manufactories, and strange to say, one of the original Hedge Dividing Engines is still in use at thisplantfor dividing expensive ivory scales.

    In 1849 Lemuel Hedge produced his best known invention, which was the Band Saw in exactly its modern form. To get ahead of my story, I will say that the first one of these now universally used machines was built for Mr. Hedge by the Robbins & Lawrence Company of Windsor and from their car shop its use has spread to all parts of the world.

    In his later years Lemuel Hedge was an exquisite draftsman, working freely in colors and perspective, and through constant study he cultivated his natural ability to a point where his mind was able to work out its complicated conceptions so completely that scarcely any experimental work was necessary upon the finished mechanisms. He passed the last of his life in New York City in comfortable circumstances an active Engineer to the last. He died in his 67th year in Brooklyn, August 1, 1853, and was buried in Evergreen cemetery of that city."