Pieces of the Past
Artifacts, Documents, and Primary Sources
from Letchworth Park History


A Description of the Pratt & Letchworth, 1872

Detail from Advertising Envelope, Pratt and Letchworth

 The following account is appeared in the New York Times, January 27, 1872, on page 1. It was part of a multi-part article entitled "Our State Institutions" and was found in part XX. The full article is on the "Buffalo Iron Works" and covers the major companies in Buffalo. We present below the part of the article that deals with the Mr. Letchworth's business. You will note that he was an innovator in both the application of technology and in dealing with labor conditions.

(Please note - although we have maintained the original spelling and capitalization, we did break the material up into the paragraphs found below. The original description was combined into one paragraph)



"About a half a mile beyond these works are the malleable iron-works of PRATT & LETCHWORTH, in which Mr. Pratt is also largely interested. These works are only second in importance to two or three other establishments in the city, PRATT & LETCHWORTH being the largest manufacturers of saddlery hardware in the United States.

They are located on a tract of land of thirty-eight acres, lying between the central Railroad and the Scajaquoda Creek, which runs into the canal, immediately adjacent to the depot. The works, which are of great extent, (they give employment to five hundred men,) have been greatly added to, and for the most part reconstructed in the last few years. Every new appliance in molding, casting, malleating, and finishing, is brought into use in the works as soon as it is given to the world, and no expense is spared to sustain the high reputation of the goods manufactured there.

The business is mainly confined to the making of saddlery hardware, rings, buckles, trees, hames, & c. The process of malleating is simple, though it is one requiring great care. The rings and bucklers are cast in quantities, united together by a small connecting band which easily breaks off with the touch of a hammer. They are then carefully sorted, and all imperfect ones thrown aside. But the castings are brittle, and it is to render them tough and ductile that they are made malleable. They are tightly packed in an iron vessel in layers of oxyde of iron ­ the scale which flies from iron in the process of rolling ­ which has been allowed oxydise, or become rusted by exposure, and are then subjected to the heat of the furnace for an average period of twelve days, according to circumstances. The combined action of the heat and the oxyde of iron produces the desired effect, and, after having gone through the revolving cylinder to take off any little roughness or attached particles, they are ready for the burnisher and the silver plater; even the band-plating and the electro-plating being carried on in the works.

But there is one feature in the works which Mr. LETCHWORTH the acting spirit of the concern, has very wisely introduced. The workmen are considered apart from their producing powers. It is intended to erect comfortable cottages for their especial occupation, with the right of purchase of the house and lot, on the lands of the firm; a part of the unoccupied land has been planted and converted into a succession of flower gardens, that part nearest the water having, in Summer time, the appearance of a small park; and, lastly, a cozy little reading-room, well warmed, well lighted, and well supplied with newspapers has been opened for their use. A library will shortly be added to it. It would be a good thing if more large employers of labor were as thoughtful.

The business store of the firm, which is adjoining that of PRATT & CO, on the terrace, is an emporium of such a countless number of articles that it impossible to enumerate them. Suffice it to say that the saddler and harness-maker can more than fit himself out without stepping out of the store. Everything that is sold is, even when cheap, made of the best material and workmanship, no inferior goods whatever being kept in stock.

The business of the firm extends all over the State of New York, through the entire West to St. Paul and Sand Francisco, and South to New-Orleans. Orders from Europe, South America, and Mexico are not unusual."


 Also see a Glimpse of Wm P Letchworth and a Pratt and Letchworth Advertising Envelope.


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