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Manufacturers Index - George Burnham Co.
Last Modified: Jan 16 2012 8:44AM by Jeff_Joslin
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This business was founded in 1882 to make post drills for use by wheelwrights, carriage makers, and, especially, blacksmiths. In 1883, Burnham acquired the assets of drill manufacturer E. J. Worcester. In 1885, Burnham was granted a patent that encompassed several improvements to his drill press designs.

Advertisement from the 1885 edition of Drew, Allis & Co.'s "Worcester Directory"

In 1889 the business was taken over by Francis "Frank" Reed, who continued to use the Geo. Burnham Co. name until 1902 when he changed the name to The Francis Reed Co. See the entry under that name for the continuation of this history.

Information Sources

  • Inland Massachusetts Illustrated by Elstner Publishing Co., 1891, has the following writeup.

    Frank Reed, Proprietor—Manufacturer of Patent Improved Hand and Power Upright Drills and Clamp Drills—No. 19 Hermon Street, Worcester, MA.

    Of all the appliances of a first-class blacksmith-shop no single one is of greater value than the upright drill, always presuming that that tool is of the best kind. Made in differing styles, the manufacturers claim, each for his own machine, points of superiority over all others, but it is often all a question for each buyer to settle for himself which is really the best. The concensus of opinion, however, seems to be in favor of the machine that does its work most rapidly, most accurately and at the least expenditure of time, labor and money, and, this view being accepted, there is excellent ground for believing the Burnham patent improved upright drill at least equal to the best and superior to most of its rivals.Up to November 1, 1889, the above-named drill in several styles was manufactured by George Burnham & Company, established in 1882. On that date Mr. Frank Reed, who for a short time previously had been associated with H. M. Wright, became sole proprietor and gave the concern new blood and a fresh impetus. The shops, situated in the building No. 15 Hermon street, have floor space aggregating 2,100 square feet and are thoroughly equipped with appropriate iron-working machinery driven by steam. Eight men are kept busy in the various departments and an extraordinary amount of excellent work is done, the specialties embracing a full line of Burnham drills in styles varying from No. 0, to No. 8, in weight from 85 to 380 pounds, and in price from $20 to $110. Of the advantages combined in these drills the following are especially worthy of mention, viz: The feed motion is positive and can be adjusted to four rates of speed; the feed levers are made of malleable iron and will not break. The grinding attachment is a solid emery wheel 5 inches diameter, 1-2 inch face, driven by friction from balance wheel; is brought into use by tightening of a thumb screw; it also provides an angular rest for grinding the drill bit correctly. The wheel holder is for drilling tires without resting on the felloe, which is desirable in case of nicely painted work, and all the holes can be drilled without lifting the wheel.This house also have a stock of twist drills and universal chucks, especially adapted for blacksmiths' drills threaded to screw on the end of spindles. All parts are made of bar steel and jaws are hardened, not easily broken, or liable to get out of order.

  • From the EAIA's Directory of American Toolmakers, which has this to say:"Blacksmith drills cited only as Burnham are assumed made by this company. George Burnham, Jr., previously a plane maker in Amherst, MA, seems to have been involved in this company, but the evidence is somewhat cloudy. The name may have been "& Co." in the earlier years." EAIA has a date range of -1885-1903- for this company.
  • Albert Shane of the Museum of our Industrial Heritage provided information on this maker, which has since been supplemented by the above data.