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Manufacturers Index - Grand Rapids Machinery Co. (miter trimmers)

Grand Rapids Machinery Co. (miter trimmers)
Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery

Last Modified: Apr 22 2017 7:33PM by Jeff_Joslin
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This is one of two companies of the same name that operated at about the same time. The following writeup is courtesy of Jeff McVey:

Grand Rapids Machinery Co., circa 1889-1900

Prior to setting out on his own, Joseph W. Oliver had worked for W. R. Fox's Fox Machine Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fox had obtained the first Universal Trimmer patent in 1879, when he lived in Connecticut. Fox moved to Grand Rapids around 1880, and took a job as a draftsman with Perkins & Co., which produced shingle mill machinery. Fox's initial trimmer design needed improvement, and he worked at a number of different jobs until the trimmer was perfected around 1885. He then applied for additional patents and went into production. Sometime thereafter, Oliver came onboard with Fox as a trimmer salesman. Fox's new patents were granted in 1888, and Oliver left about this time. My impression is that the parting was not a pleasant one.

In 1889, Oliver threw in with Fox's old boss, Willis J. Perkins. The two formed a new company, the Grand Rapids Machinery Co. (GRMC). Perkins was the owner, and Oliver served as manager. They applied for a trimmer patent and began production. Shortly thereafter, Fox sued Perkins and Oliver for patent infringement over the GRMC trimmer. Around 1890 it appears that Perkins got cold feet, and backed out of the deal, handing GRMC over to Oliver—lock, stock, and barrel. (This may be the source of the "Since 1890" legend for the Oliver Machinery Co.) In 1891, the GRMC trimmer patent, which was in Perkins' name, was granted and Fox lost the lawsuit.

With the lawsuit closed and his patent granted, Perkins decided he wanted back into the action. Having given GRMC to Oliver, Perkins started manufacturing an improved version of the GRMC machine under the Perkins & Co. banner. This left Oliver holding the bag with the now outdated GRMC machine.

About 1891, Oliver decided a new trimmer was in order. With a new partner, Samuel L. Crockett, and the help of the Leland, Faulconer and Norton Co. of Detroit, he got just that. This was the start of Oliver's American Machinery Co. (AMC), which changed its name to the Oliver Machinery Co. in 1903. Oliver continued to service the old GRMC trimmers and also kept that company's name alive. In 1900, he finally threw in the towel, and GRMC was absorbed by AMC.