Table of Contents
A Guide to the collection at the Connecticut Historical Society
The Collins Company was founded by brothers Samuel Watkinson Collins and David Collins and their cousin William Wells in 1826. Purchasing a property along the Farmington River in the town of Canton, the young entrepreneurs set up a factory there and began to mass produce edged tools and weaponry which became famous at home and abroad. According to the organization Visit Collinsville, "the product line grew to include 1,300 types of edge tools, including axes, adzes, machetes, hatchets, picks, knives, swords and bayonets." Their intentions often unclear, the Collins Company played a role in the national crises of the time period by supplying pikes which were later used in John Brown's famous raid at Harper's Ferry, VA. The company had a large presence in the spheres of weaponry and tools and was also one of the major suppliers of edged weapons before, after and during the Civil War as well as later wars and skirmishes.
Like most factories of its time, the Collins Company did not fail to harness the power of the Farmington River. Cooperating with the Farmington River Water Power Company, the Collins Company "...built dams on the river to produce hydroelectric power to run their production and situated buildings strategically along raceways and turbines to take advantage of this source of water power" (Visit Collinsville).
140 years after the inception of the Collins Company, the factory closed its doors in 1966. The Flood of 1955 as well as the changing technologies and manufacturing preferences all helped to end the life of this staple of Connecticut manufacturing.
(This note was prepared with information gathered by http://www.visitcollinsville.com)
The collection consists of a myriad of sources relating to the history, daily activity, and products of the Collins Company. Divided into twelve series, the material in the collection spans roughly the 130 years from the 1830's to the late 1950's and includes personal documents including the volume "Reminisces of Samuel Watkinson Collins" (1867) and a scrapbook history of the company (ca. 1858-1872). The records portion of the collection consists of correspondence related to business and dates from 1830-1943. Also included are various memoranda and inventories as well as copyright and trademark agreements throughout the company's history. Of interest are the volumes related to the "German Fraud" where the Collins Company was seemingly involved in a series of legal cases involving the misuse of the company trademark in Germany.
A separate series is devoted to patents produced by workmen of the Collins Company and products that the company manufactured. Dating from 1865-1909 the patents provide an opportunity to see the specifications and drawings of just a small handful of the many items produced during the company's long history. Those who worked on producing these items have representation in a series devoted to rules, regulations and instructions to workers dating from 1847-1873. The remainder of the collection consists of material relating to the deeds of Collins Company property (1836-1852), notes on the involvement of the Collins Company at the Universal Exposition in Paris (1878), and a number of reports and tax audits dating from 1920-1957. The beginning of the end of the Collins Company may also be represented in a series relating to a smaller flood on the Farmington River in 1949. Involved in a lawsuit with the Hartford Spinning Company, the Collins Company collected data, photographs, and reports on the flood and its effects on their factory.
The collection is divided into twelve series: personal effects, records, memoranda and inventories, memoranda related to the German Fraud, trademark and copyright material, patents, rules and regulations regarding workers, deeds, notes on the Paris Universal Exposition, reports, insurance plans and records regarding the suit with the Hartford Spinning Company flood.
The collection consists of five boxes and one oversize box. Arranged chronologically and by type of document, most boxes contain more than one series.
There are no restrictions on access to the collection.
Use of the material requires compliance with the Connecticut Historical Society's Research Center regulations.
Collins, Samuel W., 1802-1871
Collins Company (Hartford, Conn.)
Hartford Spinning Company.
Paris Universal Exposition of 1878.
Item, Collection Title, Collection number (Box #, Folder #). Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut.
Collection was processed by Zac Mirecki in 2009.
EAD Finding Aid created September 2014.