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Manufacturers Index - P. Pryibil

P. Pryibil
New York, NY, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Metal Working Machinery

Last Modified: Jul 6 2019 3:34PM by Mark Stansbury
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

Sometime around 1879, the firm of First & Pryibil became simply P. Pryibil. At that point he had thirty employees; by 1891 he had 150 employees, and that did not include those working in the foundry.

The business sold a variety of machinery, with the greatest successes away from the mainstream of woodworking machinery. Pryibil's machines for making twisted moldings were successful, as were his tilting bandsaws and his combination machine that made rosettes, dovetails, and corner-blocks.

Advertisement from the May 1885 "Builder and Wood-Worker"

Pryibil died unexpectedly in 1897, age 63. His two sons, Albert and Paul, took over the business. By 1921 the factory was in Long Island City and the general offices were in the Herald Building at 36th and Broadway. Another tenant of that building was the Genzlinger Machine Co., run by Fred M. Genzlinger, a young engineer. In 1922 it appears that the Pryibil and Genzlinger businesses joined forces to create the Pryibil-Genzlinger Machine Co. That same year, the Herald Building was torn down and Pryibil-Genzlinger moved their general offices to new quarters. At this point the trail grows cold, and so far as we can tell, Pryibil-Genzlinger ceased doing business in 1927 or shortly afterwards.

Condensed Catalogues of Mechanical Equipment, Twelfth Annual Volume, 1922, had the name as P. Pryibil Machine Co., Inc., 512—524 W. 41st St., New York.

Information Sources

  • Much of the information here comes from ads in articles in Manufacturer & Builder 1870 through 1894, available online at the Making of America Cornell archive.
  • Patent records provide numerous data points on products made, employee names, etc.
  • A for-sale listing of used machine tools included a lathe from P. Pryibil Machine Co.; we have seen several Pryibil metal-spinning lathes for sale.
  • The Hagley Museum lists an 1887 Pryibil woodworking-machinery catalog in their holdings.
  • From he December 29, 1888 issue of the New York Times: "W. D. Hotchkiss of 78 East One Hunred and Eighteenth-street, now employed as cleark by Paul Pryibil, machinist, of 465 West Forthieth-street, began to rob him by falsifying entries in the cash book in August, 1887, and continued his peculations until a day or two ago, when he had stolen $3,000 to $3,500. Yesterday Justice Duffy held him for examination."
  • From History and commerce of New York, 1891:

    P PRYIBIL, Manufacturer of Wood-Working Machinery, Brass Finishing and Special Machinery, Shafting, Pulleys, Hangers, Etc.. Nos. 512 to 524 W. Forty-first Street, Telephone 178. Thirty-eighth Street.—There is not in the whole domain of the arts and manufactures any distinct sphere in which more notable progress has been made of late years than machine construction. Especially is this true in regard to wood-working machinery and kindred appliances, in which a high degree of perfection has been attained. What with invention, improvements and sustained efforts, the productions of some of our leading manufactures in the line indicated are certainly a triumph of science and skill, in which connection special complimentary note is due P. Pryibil, whose extensive and well-equipped shops are located at Nos. 512 to 524 W. Forty-first Street, and who turns out a class of lathes, sawing, planing, turning, routing, mortising, carving, tenoning, and such like machinery of a distinctly meritorious character. He manufactures every description of machinery and devices used in wood-working shops, also machinery for brass finishing and working ivory, horn, bone and other material, besides shafting, pulleys, hangers, etc., and gives particular attention, likewise, to the construction of special machines of all kinds.

    His patent twist machine, band saw machines, circular saw tables, patent parallel swing saw machine, gate saw machine, jig saw machine, feed planers, jointing machines, power mortiser, eight-wheel grinder, bung machinery, improved wood turning lathes, boring apparatus, and the various mechanical devices manufactured by him have received unequivocal recognition not only throughout the United States, but also in Europe, being conceded to be in all respects, the most perfect, effective, and altogether superior articles for the purposes intended ever placed on the market.

    Mr. Pryibil, who is a gentleman of full middle age, was born in Germany, where he learned his art, but has resided in this country some thirty-five years. He is a thoroughly expert machinist and model-maker of long and varied experience, as well as a man of energy and natural ability, and is the inventor and patentee of several mechanical appliances of unequivocal merit. Mr. Pryibil has been established in business since 1862, and his career during the nearly thirty odd years intervening has been marked by steady progress, building up an exceedingly large trade.

    The works, which compose two six-story structures, 100x75 feet in dimensions each, are equipped with full steam-power, including a 100 horse power engine and a 150 horse power boiler, and the facilities are altogether ample and excellent, while upward of one hundred and fifty hands, all told, are employed in the different departments.

    The accompanying engraving exhibits the latest pattern of machine for twist work, designed and built by Mr. Pryibil. The present machine has been evolved as the outcome of an extended experience gained in constructing machines of its class, and embodies a number of substantial improvements upon its predecessors. Respecting the range of work that it is capable of producing it embraces all kinds of spiral or rope moldings, either straight, tapered, curved or oval. It will make right, left, and pineapple cuts, and will do straight fluting. It will cut from one to six threads on a piece, and will make any degree of twist, from one turn in 1 1/2 inches of length to one in 10 1/2 inches. The cutters, as above noticed, are similar in shape and arrangement to those used on variety shapers, and are held between collars somewhat similar, but arranged so that the knives have a peculiar action, cutting from the outside in, and making a smooth cut even against the grain. They revolve always in the same direction, whether the twist be right or left, and one set will produce several different shapes of work. Changing from one degree of twist to another, or from right to left, takes less than one minute. This machine will swing 8 inches, and will take 42 or 60 inches between centers, according to length ordered. The countershaft generally has a 16-inch pulley with 8-inch flat face, and one pair of 10-inch loose and tight pulleys for a 3 1/2 inch belt. It should then make about 400 revolutions per minute. The weight of the machine with countershaft is about 550 pounds.

    Among the many testimonials is the following; Pullman Palace Car Co., Pullman Car Works, Office of the Manager. P. Pryibil, Esq., New York City, Dear Sir:—It is not the custom of this company to give testimonials on materials nor machinery used in its works, but the twist machine is such an unqualified success, that I feel like speaking very much in its favor. It is simply perfect, except, perhaps, you might arrange an automatic feed so that it would not be necessary to feed by hand, and I do not know as hand feed is objectionable in this case. I shall be glad to see a smaller machine, something for very light spindle work. If you should build a smaller size, I would be glad to have you send me a cut of it, or samples of its work. Very truly, H. H. Sessions, Manager.

    Below we give a few names of parties who bought their twist machines; Pullman Palace Car Co., Pullman, Ill.; A. J. Kirkwood & Co., Chicago, Ill.; Chicago Cottage Organ Co., Chicago, Ill.; Parke & Lacy, San Francisco, Cal.; Pasadena Mfg. Co., Pasadena, Cal.; Merschon, Brown & Co., Saginaw, Mich.; Phoenix Furniture Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.; Knechtel Furniture Co., Hanover, Ont.; Globe Furniture Co., Cincinnati, O.; Sextro Furniture Co., Cincinnati, O.; Cordesman Machine Co., Cincinnati, O.; Woods, Jenks & Co., Cleveland, O.; F. A. Requarth & Co., Dayton. O.; Ohio Scroll and Lumber Co., Covington, Ky.; Laird, Norton & Co., Winona, Minn.; C. C. Rumpf & Co., Baltimore, Md.; M. Holz, Philadelphia, Pa.; F. J. Guckert, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Rowley & Hermance, Williamsport, Pa.; Chas. P. Johnson, Worcester, Mass.; H. H. Amsden & Sons, Penadook, N. H.; The Freeman & O'Neil Co., Claremont, N. H.; M. A.Schneider, Brooklyn, N. Y.; Conrad Gans, Brooklyn, N. Y.; C. H. Paffendorf, Newburgh, N. Y.; and Geo. Hunzinger & Son, J. Stein & Co., F. Bozenhardt, Henry Fuldner, T. Gregorious, John Schneider, G. J. Hauser, H. Hermann, The Andrew Homan Co., of New York City.

    An extensive, varied and complete assortment of the productions is constantly kept on hand, embracing everything comprehended in wood-working machinery and kindred devices, brass finishing appliances, machines for working ivory, horn, etc., also shafting, pulleys, hangers, gearing, etc., and all orders for anything in the line indicated are attended to in the most prompt and trustworthy manner. Every article leaving this establishment is warranted to render satisfaction, and all work done to order is guaranteed to be first-class, while the prices quoted are invariably the very lowest consistent figures, substantial inducements being offered to the trade and export merchants.

  • From New York, The Metropolis, 1893:

    Paul Pryibil, head of a wood-working machinery manufacturing establishment situated at Nos. 512 to 524 West Forty-first Street, in the city of New York, was born in the German Duchy of Nassau, now belonging to the German Empire, and is one of our busy pioneers of progress and was a welcome immigrant to this country.

    His father was a schoolmaster and he received a fair education. From an early age, however, he showed great mechanical talent, and it was remarked that all his little savings went for tools. He was a ready customer of the peddlers who visited the villages selling saws, hammers, planes, chisels, farming implements, etc., and many were the queer and ingenious things he contrived for the gratification and amusement of his friends. He made sleighs, ladders, walking sticks and garden benches, repaired clocks, etc. His father, seeing the bent of his mind, apprenticed him to a manufacturer of small machinery, and the boy very soon obtained a knowledge of the business. As he was very ambitious, he determined to work in a larger shop and selected one of the better class, but farther away from home. In a short time he had so mastered the trade and gained the confidence and esteem of his employer to such an extent that he was appointed assistant foreman; but this first promotion, while it greatly pleased and encouraged him, did not lessen his ardor. At that time, about 1855, all Europe was filled with wonderful tales of America and American progress in machinery. 'The California gold fever brought out a knowledge of the country and its resources, which now rivals the East in wealth and empire. Like many others, young Pryibil was filled with admiration for the new country, and longed to share in the remarkable advancement that everybody was talking about. He accordingly concluded to emigrate, so, getting his little resources together, he took leave of his family and friends and set out for the New World. Arriving in New York, his start in life was certainly not auspicious. There were comparatively few Germans here at that time, and the chances of a young emigrant not able to speak English were not encouraging, no matter what his abilities might be. He readily saw that the first and most important thing to do was to learn English in order to get along, and to do this he obtained work in a small machine shop, attended evening school and took private lessons.

    He went to larger shops outside of New York City, and losing no chance of improving his mind or acquiring a further mastery of his trade, he was soon looked upon as a skilled mechanic, and in the natural course of events he became ambitious to do something on his own account. He returned to New York and began work again in a downtown machine shop. Here he was occasionally called on to get up machines to order, as it was largely a jobbing business. On more than one occasion he distinguished himself by designing and building certain machines for producing articles that were imported. The manufacturers of these articles in many cases made small fortunes, and importations greatly declined or totally ceased. The esteem of the customers that he then earned was of value to him later.

    After starting a small business he found that people for whom he had invented or improved machinery were anxious to have him do more work for them. He made a few friends, but they were connected entirely with his business, for he was not, in the ordinary sense of the term, much given to sociability. As his customers increased in number. and it became evident that he had an excellent chance of building up a good business, he looked around for a partner, and made an alliance with Mr. John First, who was also a practical machinist. As both were diligent, earnest men they got along well together, and the business prospered. It was Mr. Pryibil's constant ambition that the firm should be something more than mere jobbing machinists. He sought something for which there was apt to be a steady demand, and resolved to make it so well that it would bring to them a good reputation, with all which that implies.

    The furniture business in New York City at that time was becoming an important industry, and to a very great extent it was in the hands of Germans. There was not, however, a manufacturer of wood-working machinery in the city, all of the machines coming from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and on most all of them room was left to make improvements. He took immediate advantage of the opening, and began to build moulding machines and band saw machines, which gave fair results. The best band saw machines were imported from France, but they were by no means perfect, as the saw blades were constantly breaking. Mr. Pryibil made valuable improvements which prevented this breakage. He devised an automatic arrangement for regulating the tension on the saw blade, which placed his machine far in advance of any other, and this device, by the way, remains to this day the basis or fundamental principle for the purpose in all band saw machines. He decided not to depend solely on business in the immediate neighborhood, but rather to go out and enlarge his field of operations. He therefore made frequent trips to the West, and alwavs came back loaded with orders. At the Centennial Exposition, 1876, and other State expositions the firm made a remarkable display and carried off most of the highest awards in their class. This success gave them a national reputation, and benefited their business very materially. In 1878 the partnership was dissolved, Mr. First retiring. The firm then had thirty employes and rented a comparatively small shop. The growth of the business since tells its own story of Mr. Pryibil's subsequent management. He now employs one hundred and fifty men, without the foundry employes, and his floor space has increased tenfold. Continual additions to his equipment have made his facilities as complete as those of any manufacturer in his business. Many of the most useful of his appliances are of his own invention, however, and the value of his improvements is attested by the fact that in several cases they have been adopted by builders of machinists' tools.

    Mr. Pryibil has exported considerable machinery to Europe, and in some instances his goods have been purchased by European manufacturers with the express purpose of substituting them for their own designs. In most all principal cities in this country his machines may be found in successful operation. While his business is to manufacture machinery to order, he still maintains his interest in specialties, his favorites being wood-working and brass-working machinery, and appliances for the transmission of power. He manufactures a very large variety of machines in his line — perhaps more than any other house in this country. He has made machinery for every branch of the piano industry, and lately brought out a machine for drilling the plates, wdiich is expected to practically revolutionize the business. With this machine a boy can produce as much but better work as two skilled mechanics are able to do on the best machine now in use. Many others of his wood-working machines have increased the production and improved the quality of certain kinds of ornamental wood work to such an extent, that what was formerly within the reach of only those who were well able to pay a high price can now be obtained by peo])le of very moderate means. He takes a lively interest in passing events and keeps well informed on current progress in many branches, but the constant progress in modern machine-shop practice requires that he who would keep up with it must give to it his undivided attention, and Mr. Pryibil not only aims to move along with the procession, but to keep his place in the front ranks. What he loses in social circles he more than gains in popularity among the scientific and business classes, by whom the extent and solid worth of his attainments are greatly appreciated. He is a frequent contributor to the mechanical papers. As he is only in his fifty-eighth year, and in possession of a rugged constitution, it would seem that there is still a great future before him.

  • From he October 30, 1897 issue of the New York Times: "Paul Pryibil, head of the woodworking establishment at 512 to 524 West Forty-first Street, died on Thursday at his home, 153 West Sixty-Fourth Street. He was born in the German duchy of Nassau. He came to New York in 1855, and began work at his trade as a machinist. He became well known through several inventions useful to manufacturers, and finally began business for himself. Later he took Jacob First as a partner, and for the last twenty years his business had been developing and increasing. It will be continued by his two sons, Albert and Paul."
  • From 1897-11-06 issue of The Music Trade Review (brought to our attention by Mark Conley):

    Paul Pryibil

    It is with much regret that we announce the death of Paul Pryibil, the prominent manufacturer and inventor of machinery for the piano trade, which occurred at his late residence, 153 West Sixty-fourth street, this city, on the evening of October 27, in the sixty-third year of his age. Mr. Pryibil was ill for a short time, but only last week it was though that his recovery was practically assured. He had a number of relapses, however, and the last proved fatal. The interment was in Woodlawn Cemetery last Sunday, for which place a special train left the Grand Central Depot at 2.10. There was a large attendance of friends and relatives present.

    It was only a few days before his death—in the Review of October 23—that we penned the following:

    "Paul Pryibil, a prince among inventors and practical mechanics, has every reason to be proud of his achievements as a man of business and one having talents of service to others of the craft as well as to those whose success depends to a great extent on the aid they can secure from perfect machinery. He has done much to simplify the manufacture of pianos and other musical instruments. If, as is said, the man who can make two blades of grass grow where only one grew before is a benefactor to his race, Paul Pryibil deserves a monument."

    We understand that the business conducted by the late Paul Pryibil will be continued as heretofore by the executors of the estate, one of whom is his son Albert Pryibil, who will have charge of the business.

    In a conversation on Thursday Mr. Pryibil stated that there is no intention of relinquishing the business which had been placed on such a substantial and paying basis by his father. Of course if it failed to pay the executors might deem it proper to take other steps, but nothing of that nature is contemplated. It is intended that the policy of the late Paul Pryibil, to produce only the best, shall be maintained by his successors, so that the future of this house is assured.

  • The August 1906 issue of the Machinists' Monthly Journal mentions a strike at the Pryibil Machine Co.
  • A 1912 issue (PDF) of The Music Trade Review has this brief article:


    The Pryibil machine Co., Inc., of Manhattan, filed a certificate at Albany, N. Y., on Monday with a capital stock of $120,000 for the purpose of manufacturing machinery and tools for the piano and other trades. The incorporatees are: Albert Pryibil, Paul L. Pryibil and Chas. B. Bauerdorf, all of New York.

  • A 1916 issue of Metal Record and Electroplater has this note: "The entire spinning lathe business of the Wilcor Mfg. Co., Chicago, Ill, formerly Fritz A. Schulz, has recently been purchased by the P. Pryibil Machine Co., 512-524 West 41st St., New York..."
  • More information on the Fritz Schulz / Wilcor connection can be found in an owwm.org forum discussion.
  • A 1919 Chicago Machinery Exchange ad lists P. Pryibil Machine Co.; this is not rock-solid evidence that they were still in business at that time.
  • From Smithsonian Institution Libraries: "P. Pryibil Machine Company / Pryibil-Genzlinger Machine Co / Trade catalogs on metal spinning lathes and accessories for round and oval work, oval chucks, tools for metal spinning, wood working machinery and power transmitting machinery, 1905"
  • "Mechanical engineers catalog and product directory" of 1922 lists P. Pryibil Machine Co. (Inc.) and "Genzlinger Machine Co.. Herald Bldg. Thirty-sixth St. and Broadway, New York". The Herald Building was torn down in 1921 so the directory information was old. In any event, perhaps the loss of their premises precipitated the reorganization of Pryibil and Genzlinger.
  • A Metal Industry issue from 1923 (volume 21 no. 8, pp 343-344), available in Snippet View through Google Books, has this tidbit: "The Pryibil-Genzlinger Machine Company, formerly located in the Herald Building, is manufacturing spinning lathes, all... beading attachments as well as compound lever spinning attachments. Both P. L. Pryibil and F. M. Genzlinger were formerly employed at the P. Pryibil Machine..."
  • The 1924 yearbook of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers lists Fred M. Genzlinger of the Pryibil-Genzlinger Machine Co.
  • Carriage and Wagon Makers Machinery and Tools by Kenneth L. Cope, 2004 page
  • The 1927 date comes from an owwm.org discussion about a Pryibil Catalog No. 27 that was dated to 1927.. The company name is P. Pryibil Machine Co., Inc. The title page says, Established 1859" and gives the address as "512 to 516 West 41st Street / New York City". That address is between 10th and 11th Avenues, in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, and is right where the Lincoln Tunnel entrance now is.