Academic journal article The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc.

A Short History of the Crescent Machine Company Part I: 1894 to 1920

Academic journal article The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc.

A Short History of the Crescent Machine Company Part I: 1894 to 1920

Article excerpt

Introduction

My personal interest in the Crescent Machine Company began in the mid 1990s. While I was volunteering at the Georgia Agrirama (Georgia's official Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village), located in my hometown of Tifton, Georgia, a new piece of woodworking machinery was acquired by the museum for the historic site's "variety works," the steam-powered and line-shaft driven woodworking shop. The "new" machine-a large, heavy-duty combination machine that consisted of a band saw, table saw, and jointer all mounted on a single base and powered from a single power source-had the name Crescent Machine Company, Leetonia, Ohio, cast into the base in raised letters. Later on, I would discover that Crescent called the machine a "Universal Wood-worker," and due to its unusual configuration, it was one of the most distinctive machines ever made by Crescent.

After discovering this machine, I wanted to find out as much as I could about the machine and the company that made it. When my initial searches for information yielded little results, I embarked on a personal quest to find and acquire as much information on this manufacturer of woodworking machinery as possible.

Over the course of the next ten years, I managed to assemble an extensive library of original literature produced by Crescent, as well as many other historical pieces of information (Figure 1). This data has allowed me to construct a history of the manufacturer from its humble beginnings in the 1890s through its unprecedented growth during the first two decades after the turn of the last century, its struggle of just surviving the great depression, and its ultimate takeover in the post-World War II economy by a large industrial conglomerate, which eventually resulted in the disappearance of the Crescent name as it was merged into other brands owned by the same parent company. During Crescent's life, it managed to become a major manufacturer and a well-respected name in the woodworking-machinery industry.

In addition to collecting information on Crescent, I have also managed to collect many of the machines made by the company over the sixty years they were in operation. The machines in my personal collection are the cast iron beasts that rolled off Crescent's line over a period of sixty years. Owning and using so many of these machines has provided me with insight regarding the true quality of the machines, how they were made and, more important, how easily they can be restored.

This history of the Crescent Machine Company is my first real attempt to share the results of my research to date. I doubt that I will ever quit collecting information on Crescent and adding to my database, but I feel that the time is right to publish what I know and have learned. If any reader has information to add to this account or wishes to dispute what is written here, I invite correspondence on the subject.

The Birth of a Company

The 1934 catalog for Crescent Woodworking Machinery describes the company's beginnings:

The Crescent Machine Company began operations at Leetonia, Ohio, in 1893, with a very limited capital and an abundant ambition. Backed by a firm determination to build a product that would give universal satisfaction, the Crescent line of wood working machinery was established.1

Much of Crescent's literature throughout the years credit 1893 as the year that the company began operations. However, it appears that this claim may be somewhat of a stretch; no proof has yet to be discovered that can trace the company back before 1894. In fact, the oldest document concerning the creation of the Crescent Machine Company found to date is an announcement published by the founding fathers in August, 1894:

ANNOUNCEMENT

We wish to inform our friends that co-partnership relations have been entered into by Elmer Harrold, F. H. Grove and C. G. Wilderson, for the establishing of a manufacturing machine shop, under the firm name of the Crescent Machine Co. …

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