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Manufacturers Index - Freeland Tool Works
Last Modified: Oct 20 2010 12:43PM by Jeff_Joslin
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Aaron M. Freeland was the first machine tool maker in New York city. He was noted for his particularly heavy and well-made lathes and planers. His machines were strongly influenced by English designs. Being heavier and more precise than their typical American equivalents, they were favored by ship and engine builders.

Freeland established his business in about 1845, operating as A. M. Freeland; in later years he also used the name Freeland Tool Works. In 1855 he relocated to Yonkers for a few months but returned to New York. He died sometime before 1884.

Information Sources

  • The 1848-11-04 Scientific American lists the premiums awarded at the recently concluded Fair of the American Institute, including a Gold Medal to "A. M. Freeland, 87 Mangin-st. N. Y. for superior Iron Planing Machine."
  • Eighth Annual Report of the American Institute, March 1850, including the results of the 1849 Fair: A. M. Freeland, 78 Mangin-street, for an improved self acting boring, turning and screw cutting slide lathe. Gold medal.
  • The Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress of 1850-12-02, delivered by president Millard Fillmore, in an attached "Report of Operations at Washington Arsenal during the Year Ending Jun 30, 1850", notes that "An excellent planing-machine for iron (made by Mr. A. M. Freeland, of New York) has been procured during this year."
  • The 1853-01-06 new York Times lists Aaron M. Freeland as part of a Grand Jury.
  • The 1858-12-25 Scientific American, in a multi-page illustrated article on Hoe & Company's Printing-Press and saw Manufactory, says, "Most of the improved iron planing and slotting machines and lathes employed in this manufactory were made by A. M. Freeland, of this city, who has obtained much celebrity as a tool-maker, but there are also some most excellent machines made by Whitworth & Co., of Manchester, England."
  • The 1864-12-03 Scientific American carries an article on American Machine Tools: "...in this city Mr. A. M. Freeland makes lathes and planers of superior finish and durability..."
  • On 1867-08-27, patent 68,061 was granted to Aaron M. Freeland of New York City, for a belt-shifting device.
  • The 1869-07-29 New York Times carried a marriage notice for Emma E. Freeland, daughter of A. M. Freeland, to William C. Carpenter.
  • The Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives for 1869 contains testimony regarding the suitability of equipment furnished by seller John Roach & Son to the Philadelphia Navy Yards. One witness, Richard Ryan, who was foreman at the Franklin Forge in New York, testifed:
    Have frequently visited the Etna Iron Works [operated by John Roach & Son], and examined the tools sold to the Philadelphia navy yard, and my observation was particular because our work was don upon them. They were very good lathes and planers; they were heavier than the general run of tools in shops of this city. I refer to the large and small lathes, and think that the break-lathe was a very useful and heavy tool. It was made by A. M. Freeland, in 36th street, and he is one of the best lathe makers in the country. The tools [he is] now building are extra heavy tools, and the largest in this country, and will do work both quicker and cheaper than ordinary tools. I think they are the kind of tools that should be purchased for a navy yard or large machine shop..."
  • The 1869/70 edition of The New York State Business Directory and Gazetteer lists "Freeland Aaron M. tools, 560 W. 34th".
  • The November 1873 Manufacturer & Builder has a report on that year's New York Industrial Exhibition. "The Freeland Tool Works, of New York, exhibit two of their celebrated duplex slide lathes."
  • The 1874 work, Wiley's American Iron Trade Manual of the Leading Iron Industries of the United States lists "A. M. Freeland.—560 West Thirty-fourth Street. Machinists' tools."
  • The 1884-02-02 edition of Mechanics has an article on supplementary planer tables as a means of holding wider work. It mentions that such tables were in use at Hewes & Phillips of Newark, and the Freeland Tool Works.
    I have heard that such tables are in common use in England, and that they were first introduced into this country by the late A. M. Freeland, though I am under the impression that he considered them as an extra attachment, and not as a part of the planer. But, be that as it may, he furnished them with those supplied to the Government and to the large planer he made for the Morgan Iron Works, in this city [New York], and I am satisfied they would be more frequently used if they were better known.
  • Methods of Machine Shop Work, by Frederick Arthur Halsey, 1914, and available online through Google Books, says

    The first precision process to be taken up is scraping, which insures that surfaces shall be flat—that is, have accuracy of form...The process was invented by Whitworth [and published in 1840]...

    The process is believed to have been brought to the United States by A. M. Freeland at a date which cannot be located more closely than that it took place prior to 1857.

    A foot says, "Regarding this and other features of Mr. Freland's work, of which particulars are given later, the author's information is obtained from W. H. McFaul who was associated with him from 1857 until the end of his life."
  • The 1919 book, Lathe Design, Construction and Operation by Charles O. E. Perrigo, shows an 1853 lathe from A. M. Freeland as an example of a lathe that "was in some respect somewhat ahead of its time", and notes that Freeland used English machines as inspiration.
  • The magazine issue Metalworking: Yesterday and Tomorrow : the 100th Anniversary Issue of American Machinist, 1978, available online through Google Books, has this snippet: "The first machine-tool builder in New York City was AM Freeland, who opened a shop on Mangin St about 1845. Ten years later, he moved to Yonkers but stayed only a few months, returning to build a shop on 34th St near Tenth Ave..."