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Manufacturers Index - R. Hoe & Co.

R. Hoe & Co.
New York, NY, U.S.A.
Company Website: http://www.pacific-hoe.com/
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery, Metal Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Oct 18 2018 5:26PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.
The R. Hoe & Co. works in New Yor. From April 1902 Canada Lumberman

This firm was founded in 1805 as Smith, Hoe & Co.; the principals were Robert Hoe and Matthew Smith, and they made wooden hand presses for printing. Early on they also got into the business of making handsaws. In 1822 Smith died and Hoe took over the company, changing the name to R. Hoe & Co.

By the 1830s the company was making circular sawblades, as well as "Wiswell's spoke machine" and a Hamilton's patent felly-sawing machine. Robert Hoe died in 1833 at age 51, and his eldest son, Richard M., took over the reins. Richard M. Hoe is supposed to have received an 1837 patent for a machine for grinding the faces of circular sawblades, but no such patent seems to exist. We did find an 1842 patent for improvements to such a machine, and that patent was reissued and extended, which implies that it was of some importance.

The patent record demonstrates, though, that sawblades were a relatively minor sideline to their main business of making high-speed printing presses, at which they were enormously successful. By the 1850s, R. Hoe & Co. dominated the pressrooms of the major newspapers of the U.S. and England.

At some point in their history—which extends to the present day—R. Hoe & Co. manufactured printers' tablesaws; although intended for cutting metal type, printers' saws are often useful for small-scale woodworking.

Information Sources

  • The University of Delaware has a collection of material on this company. Here is the biographical summary that accompanies the collection:

    Born in England in 1784, Robert Hoe studied carpentry before immigrating to the United States in 1803. Upon arrival, Hoe met Matthew Smith and together they formed Smith, Hoe & Company in 1805 in New York City, specializing in the manufacture of wooden hand presses. Due to the nature of the materials used, Smith and Hoe decided to incorporate saw-making into their business. Following the death of Smith, Hoe took over the company and changed its name to R. Hoe & Company in 1822. He continued to manufacture printing presses and along with his sons made numerous improvements upon existing machinery. In 1827, Hoe bought and improved Samuel Rust's patent for a wrought iron framed press and began manufacturing it as the 'Washington' press. After his death in 1833, his sons Richard and Robert overtook daily operation of the company and are credited with introducing various improvements and obtaining patents for these innovations. Consequently, R. Hoe & Company firmly established its products as superior to those of European design. Notable advances made by R. Hoe & Company included a mechanical sheet delivery system for fast cylinder presses, the rotary printing press, and the first type revolving presses. The work of R. Hoe & Company helped facilitate the rapid and cheap production of newspapers.

    In 1886, after the deaths of his father and his uncle, Robert Hoe III assumed control of the company. In the years following, he became better known for book collecting than for manufacturing. After his death in 1909, his son, Robert Hoe IV gained control but resigned by 1924. In that year the company was incorporated and a board of directors was announced. Robert Kelly was named president and the Hoe family no longer ran the company. During World War II, the company began to manufacture parts for weapons. After the war, however, the price of Hoe stock dropped and by 1969 the company was forced to claim bankruptcy. Throughout the 1970s, the Hoe factory was dismantled while the board focused on revitalizing the saw-making aspect of the company. In 1984, Pacific Saw and Knife Company purchased R. Hoe & Company and formed Pacific/Hoe Saw and Knife Company. It is still in operation today.

  • From the 1859 work, A biographical dictionary: comprising a summary account of the lives of the most distinguished persons of all ages, nations, and professions; including more than two thousand articles of American biography, by the Rev. John L. Blake, is the following biography.
    HOE, Robert, an ingenious mechanic of New York, was a native of Leicestershire, England, and born in the year 1784. In 1803 he landed in the city where he spent the remainder of his life. At the time of his arrival the yellow fever was raging in New York with frightful fatality, and young Hoe caught the epidemic, but, by good nursing, and through the mercy of a kind Providence, he ultimately recovered. The first business which he conducted was that of a builder, and as such he became advantageously known to the public. With this business he did not appear to be satisfied, and consequently he relinquished it and engaged in the manufacture of printing materials and of the hand-press invented by his brother-in-law, Peter Smith. The latter was a native of Westchester County, N. Y., and graduated at Yale College in 1816, but died in 1823. In his new business Matthew Smith, another brother-in-law, and a brother of Peter Smith, was his partner. Matthew Smith soon followed Peter Smith to the grave, leaving Mr. Hoe alone to conduct the operations of the firm. The genius and enterprise of Robert Hoe became apparent at this juncture. He sent an intelligent mechanic, Mr. Sereno Newton, to England, to examine the improved printing machinery in that country, and thus became enabled to improve his own presses. The business accordingly increased; but he own health became so much impaired that, in 1832, he was obliged to reture from all connection with it. The business was then taken by this eldest son, Richard M. Hoe, Matthew Smith, son of his first partner, and Sereno Newton. About this time the manufacture of saws, in connection with the manufacture of printing materials, was commenced, both of which have been continued to the present time, 1855. In the manufacture of saws as well as in printing presses, Richard M. Hoe has made important improvements. The value of the saws annually manufactured amount to nearly two hundred thousand dollars. In 1837 he went to England to receive a patent for an improved mode of grinding saws, and while there the printing machinery of that company attracted his attention. Upon his return to New York he was able materially to improve upon the machinery used in England as well as that of the United States. The result has proved that progress in that most useful field of mechanical industry had no apparent limit; and, that Richard M. Hoe, possessing the mechanical ingenuity of his father, with additional facilities, was the individual calculated to use those opportunities to the best advantage. In 1841, Matthew Smith, the partner of Richard M. Hoe, died at the age of 33 years, highly esteemed by all who knew him. The business was then continued by Richard M. Hoe, and his two brothers, Robert Hoe and Peter Smith Hoe; the eldest of the three, as before, directing all his inventive powers, which had increased wonderfully, to the perfection of improvements previously devised, and the two younger brothers attending to the finances and to the general business of the firm. In 1846, Hoe's Lightning Press, so called from the rapidity with which it operates, was brought into use. The most expensive of these machines costs about $25,000, and will print 20,000 sheets on one side every hour. This press has eight cylinders; but there are others constructed on the same principle, with six cylinders, and four cylinders, respectively, at proportionally lower prices, but which do proportionally less work in the same time. Three of the eight cylinder presses have been constructed; three of six cylinder, and seventeen of the four cylinder ones. These are used for printing newspapers and other work, where the greatest speed is required. At this establishment they also manufacture other presses and articles of a kindred nature, to an extent which is incredible to persons who have not seen or been informed respecting it. About four hundred men and boys are employed, many of the men having families. The wages paid them amounts to $3500 per week; or, nearly $200,000 a year. It is estimated that the raw material used costs $225,000 a year. Such is at present the condition of the establishment for making printing presses, originated by Robert Hoe in 1809. Little could he then have imagined to what gigantic dimensions it was destined to grow in forty or forty-five years. The man who had the genius and the enterprise to originate such an establishment and who left three sons competent to continue, and to make it the admiration of the nation, as it now is, should never be forgotten. He died in the year, 1833, at the age of 51 years.
  • The 1847-05-01 issue of Scientific American has a writeup on the new R. Hoe & Co. press at the New York Ledger, which was also used to print Scientific American. The press was a very early cylindrical press, which operated at much higher speed than the flat-platen presses that preceded it.
  • The 1847-05-22 issue of Scientific American mentions some prices for R. Hoe & Co. circular sawblades. "The price of circular saws, at the establishement of R. Hoe & Co., 31 Gold street, is for 40 inch saws $33; 46 inch—$57; 54 inch—$110. The last is the largest size made."
  • The 1847-12-04 issue of Scientific American has a writeup on the new Hoe press at the New York Sun, capable of printing 12,000 papers per hour. This compares favorably with the press at the London Times, reputed to be the fastest in Europe at 6,000 papers per hour.
  • The 1848-11-04 issue of Scientific American lists some of the prizes awarded at that year's Fair of the American Institute, including a gold medal to R. Hoe & Co. "for best Circular Saw, &c."
  • The 1850-11-23 issue of Scientific American mentions that R. Hoe & Co. was using "one of Morse's magnetic telegraphic machines" to communicate between two of their offices located a couple of miles apart.
  • The 1851-05-24 issue of Scientific American has an exceptionally large engraving of the enormous R. Hoe & Co. printing press at the New York Sun.
  • The 1858-05-08 issue of Scientific American has an from this firm: "NEW SAW-GUMMING MACHINE, FOR Re-toothing Circular and Mill Saws, &c.—This machine, as represented in our catalogue, is entirely of wrought and cast iron; it is of sufficient power to retooth with ease the thickest and largest saw made. Our catalogue gives a further description, and will be forwarded on application. R. HOE & CO., 29 and 31 Gold st., New York."
  • The 1858-12-25 issue of Scientific American has a full-page article on this firm, "HOE & COMPANY'S PRINTING-PRESS AND SAW MANUFACTORY". The article includes an engraving of a circular sawblade about four feet in diameter having its teeth cut.
  • The 1863-01-10 issue of Scientific American has an article on the new color printing press of this firm.
  • The 1867-11-02 issue of Scientific American mentions this firm as an exhibitor at the Fair of the American Institute: "In saws, R. Hoe & Co., and the American Saw Company, both of New York city, make fine displays."
  • The 1867-08-31 issue of Scientific American has an article about the new presses for the New York Herald newspaper: "The engines, of 60-horse power each, are of the variorite style known as the 'beam engine,' built by R. Hoe & Co., the builders also of the immense presses, and are models of strength and beauty, combined with simplicity, compactness and good workmanship. They are connected one at either end fo the fly-wheel shaft, so that they can be run together if required, although ordinarily run separately. The cylinders are fitted with the simple long-lap slide-valve, arranged to cut off the admission of the steam at two-thirds of the stroke. The governor is of the well-known Judson patent, and regulates the speed to perfection. The shafting consists of a single line placed beneath the floor and runs along by, and drives, each press."
  • The June 1869 issue of Manufacturer & Builder has an article on "The Art of Electrotyping".
    ... It is but fitting, then to record here the name of Col. Richard M. Hoe, of the firm of R. Hoe & Co., as one of the foremost of our American citizens in utilizing and perfecting the art of electrotyping. It is scarcely thirty years since the art was first made known to the world. And during all this space of time, the talents of the able manufacturer to whom we refer have lent their effective aid in bringing it to perfection. With what success, the numerous useful instruments in extensive use which bear his name are a sufficient testimony. And now, in parting, dear reader, let us say, if you are not yet quite thoroughly posted in the practical part of electrotyping, just pay a visit to the extensive establishment of R. Hoe & Co. ...
  • The above-mentioned June 1869 issue of Manufacturer & Builder carried the following ad: "R. Hoe & Co., New-York, Boston, and London, manufacturers of cylinder and platen presses, of various kinds, adapted for newspapers, fine books, wood-cut and job work..." followed by a listing of different styles of presses and related equipment. The list includes "Cast-Steel Saws". "R. Hoe & Co., 31 Gold Street, New York."
  • The November 1873 issue of Manufacturer & Builder has a review of that year's New York Industrial Exhibition. R. Hoe & Co. was an exhibitor: "R. Hoe & Co., of this city, show a stone-dressing machine, operating by a series of rotating hammers, so arranged as to imitate the hand operation."
  • The November 1883 issue of The Century; a popular quarterly made passing mention of this firm in an article on trade schools: "...several private firms like R. Hoe & Co. of this city, give scientific instruction to their lads..."
  • The November 1883 issue of Manufacturer & Builder
  • The November 1884 issue of Harper's carried a brief obituary notice: "September 13. In Tarrytown, New York, Robert Hoe, of the firm of R. Hoe & Co., of this city, in this seventieth year."
  • The July 1887 issue of Harper's carried an article about printing that mentions this firm and its founder: "...But it was left to an American, Col. Richard March Hoe to bring together the disjecta membra [scattered fragments] of these various improvements into a press which has been pronounced 'the greatest invention on the routing of the printing craft since the days of Gutenberg.' ...Colonel Hoe's patent of 1847 included the ingenious device of the 'turtle', a curved chase with columns thinner at the base than at the face, in which ordinary type could be 'locked up' for use on the cylinder."