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Manufacturers Index - Phoenix Iron Works, Geo. S. Lincoln & Co.

Phoenix Iron Works, Geo. S. Lincoln & Co.
Hartford, CT, U.S.A.
Company Website: http://www.taylorfenn.com/
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Metal Working Machinery

Last Modified: Dec 7 2018 2:50PM by Jeff_Joslin
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This firm was established in 1834 by Levi Lincoln, who founded New England Card Co. in 1832. The Iron Works made tools and simple machines used in making carding tools for production of cotton and wool. The early machines were dog-powered, and displaced a substantial domestic industry in making cards by hand. By the 1846 George S. Lincoln and his brother Charles L. Lincoln were in charge. The Iron Works' products included drills and engine lathes. The Works did business as George S. Lincoln & Co. The company reorganized as Lincoln & Co. in 1885 and again in 1901 as the Phoenix Iron Works. By 1930 the business was known as Taylor & Fenn, and is still in business under that name, as a foundry.

The famous Lincoln milling machine was manufactured here in 1854 by Francis A. Pratt, who went on to found the Pratt & Whitney Co. in 1862. The "Lincoln miller" design was made by many firms in the latter half of the 19th century. The Lincoln miller was arguably the first dedicated milling machine. It used a lathe-style base with a usually horizontal milling arbor that was traversed across the workpiece, which was held motionless on the bed. The Lincoln miller did not offer three-axis positioning, and was not suitable for drilling, but its simple and rigid design survived for at least 40 years.

A great-great grandson of Levi Lincoln, Charles Lincoln Taylor, began working for Lincoln & Co., in 1895. By 1901 Taylor was plant foreman, and, as part of a group of investors, purchased the company which they reorganized as the Phoenix Iron Works, with Taylor as treasurer and a director. In 1907 the Phoenix-Fenn merger created Taylor & Fenn. In 1910 he added secretary to his titles. In 1915 the business was in receivership and Taylor purchased full ownership. In 1924 he became president, relinquishing the secretary role but continuing on as treasurer and director. By the time of his death in 1944, Taylor & Fenn Co. had 1200 employees and did a business of $2 million per year.

Information Sources

  • A history booklet produced by Pratt & Whitney, Accuracy for Seventy Years, 1860—1930, published in 1930 and reprinted 2003, says that Pratt apprenticed to Warren Aldrich of Lowell, Mass., probably about 1841: "After a grammar school education, he was apprenticed to Warren Aldrich, a thorough mechanic and a wise teacher of the old school." About Phoenix, it says, "Two years of intensive study and work brought to Mr. Pratt an invitation to become the superintendent of the Phoenix Iron Works of Hartford—a Company that had been established in 1834 by Levi Lincoln. Incidentally, this is now the Taylor & Fenn Company."
  • A history of Pratt & Whitney says, "Two young machinists, Francis Pratt and Amos Whitney, working at the Phoenix Iron Works in Hartford, Connecticut founded the Pratt & Whitney Company in 1860." It also says that Pratt, born in 1825, started work at Phoenix when he was 27, or in about 1852.
  • An Answers.com article on cutting tools says the following: "The Phoenix Iron Works of Hartford, Connecticut, created the first tool to really form a metal chip, thereby cutting the metal. The tool had 56 teeth placed around its nearly 3-inch diameter. The teeth were chipped by a hammer and chisel. While effective, the tool required too much labor when it needed sharpening. In 1864, the Brown & Sharpe Co., later the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Co., developed the first cutter that could be sharpened by grinding the face without altering its shape. To date, the elements of this design are still in use."
  • The book, Hartford, Conn., as a manufacturing, business and commercial center; with brief sketches of its history, attractions, leading industries, and institutions, published by the Hartford Board of Trade in 1889, has the following sketch of Phoenix Iron Works.

    In 1832, Levi Lincoln, ancestor of the present proprietors of the Phoenix Iron Works, was agent and manager of the New England Card Company, which had a shop on Ann Street. At one time the concern had on its books the names of nine hundred women and children scattered about the country who were employed at odd hours in setting the wire teeth of the cards used in the manufacture of cotton and woolen goods and for other purposes. Mr. Lincoln either invented or greatly improved a machine for punching the holes in the leather, and for making and inserting the teeth by a continuous process. The contrivance put an end to the domestic industry. It was operated at first by dog-power. Applying the same mechanical principles, Mr. Lincoln invented the hook-and-eye machine. He also invented the molasses gate which is still made in large quantities, and has never since been materially improved.

    In 1841, the premises, where many ideas had found embodiment in practical forms, were turned into a regular machine shop, under the firm name of George S. Lincoln & Co. In a short time they were doing a large business in the production of lathes, pulleys, shafting, and small tools. Special industries were then springing up over the State, and in many cases the projectors came to George S. Lincoln & Co. for their machinery, in part because the mechanical talent of the concern was found to be highly valuable in eliminating defects of design, and in adapting adjustments to the ends required. At one time gun tools, of recognized superiority, were made in large quantities for the armories of the United States and Europe.

  • From the 1944 Annual Report of the Connecticut Historical Society: "Charles Lincoln Taylor, who was elected a member of the Society, November 9, 1926, died at his home in Hartford, March 30, 1944..."
  • 1973 The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography.
    TAYLOR, Charles Lincoln, manufacturer, was born in Hartford, Conn., Sept 10, 1875, son of Edwin Pemberton and Carrie Augusta (Lincoln) Taylor, grandson of Edwin and Nancy Jane (Kinne) Taylor, great-grandson of Samuel and Sarah (Pemberton) Taylor, and great-great-grandson of George and Hannah (————) Taylor. His great-great-grandfather came to this country from England and settled in Hartford. Charles L. Taylor was educated at public schools in his native community and in 1892 accepted employment at Cramp's Shipyard, Philadelphia, Pa. In 1895 he returned to Hartford, where he commenced learning the machine trade with Lincoln & Co., machinery builders and foundrymen, a business established in 1834 by Levi Lincoln, his maternal great-grandfather. In 1901 Taylor, then foreman of the plant, joined with others in purchasing the company, which they reorganized as the Phoenix Iron Works Co., the name it bore until 1907, when it was merged with the Fenn Machine Co. to become the Taylor & Fenn Co. Taylor purchased full interest in the company in 1915. Elected treasurer and a director at the incorporation in 1901, he also served as secretary from 1910 until 1924, when he became president, continuing in that post and as treasurer and a director until the close of his life. The Taylor & Fenn Co.'s line of machine tools consisted of drilling machines, vertical milling machines, duplex spline milling machines, spring presses, tool grinders, and hydraulic internal grinders. It also built special machinery and operated a modernized, fully equipped foundry where gray iron and alloyed iron castings were produced. The company, which was in receivership when Taylor took control, had at the close of his life some 1200 employees, 130,000 square feet of floor space, capital of $375.000, and a gross business of $2 million a year. At his death Taylor had also been president from 1921 and a director from 1920 of the Collins Co., Collinsville, Conn. Founded by Samuel W. Collins and David C . Collins in 1826, the company was known as the Collins Manufacturing Co. before being incorporated as the Collins Co. in 1834. Originally organized for the manufacture of axes, the company later added plows, picks, hoes, cane knives, machetes, and a full line of edge tools for both domestic and foreign markets. In serious difficulty in 1921, when Taylor assumed the presidency, the Collins Co. had some 400 employees and net income of about $300,000 in the last full year before his death. In addition to his main interests, for many years he was president and a director of the Farmington River Water Power Co.,...
  • American Milling Machine Builders: 1820-1920 by Kenneth L. Cope, 2007 page 158
  • American Planer, Shaper and Slotter Builders: 1830-1910 by Kenneth L. Cope, 2002 page 133
  • American Lathe Builders: 1810-1910 by Kenneth L. Cope, 2001 page 118