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M&W Improved Lamp M&W Flame Spreader
Pat'd. August 18, 1896
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Simmons Catalog Cut Simmons Hardware
Lamp Catalog
No. 468, 1905-06
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    a brief historical profile of     
The Matthews & Willard Manufacturing Company
M&W Center Draught Fount
Matthews & Willard center draft fount, circa 1897. The flame spreader is seen in the left hand margin. The elongated diamond-shaped gallery readily identifies this as a Matthews & Willard product.

The Matthews and Willard Mfg. Co. of Waterbury, Connecticut, was organized on April 8, 1890, succeeding the corporation of the same name which went into receivership in 1888. After the company went into the hands of the receiver, it was purchased and reorganized by H.F. Davis of Watertown, and Charles Miller. The original business dates back to 1814 when Henry A. Matthews began the manufacture of saddlery, harness and carriage trimmings. The business went through a number of changes until 1882 when it became the Matthews & Willard Manufacturing Company, having previously been known as the Matthews & Stanley Manufacturing Company. In 1880, the scope of the business was widened by the production of stove ornaments in brass and bronze, brass furniture, statuettes, and various specialties.1 In 1904, The Scovill Manufacturing Company purchased the company and it was absorbed into their manufacturing concerns.2

The company manufactured a full line of center draft lamps and widely marketed bicycle lamps in the late 1880's. M&W manufactured both kerosene and acetylene bicycle lamps. Models burning oil included the M&W 97, M&W 98, and The Star Lancaster, introduced in 1899.3 Carbide models included the DUPLEX and RAINBOW. The two acetylene models mentioned were both patented by Arthur K. Miller, in 1899 and 1900 respectively, although neither patent was assigned to M&W.4

The Matthews and Willard Mfg. Co.
M&W Bike Lamp
"The 1898 Matthews and Willard lamp, made by the Matthews and Willard Manufacturing Company, of Waterbury, Conn., is of sheet brass, finished in nickel, of medium size, light weight and symmetrical design. It is equipped with a rigid bracket with these special advantages: it can be adjusted by one turn to any height or angle desired, set on the steering head or attached to either fork. The thumbnut can be easily and securely fastened with the fingers without the use of a wrench of screw-driver. The wick-lock is a simple push-button, instantly relocked when the pressure is removed. The oil reservoir is locked so that it cannot become accidentally detached from the bottom of the lamp. This lamp burns kerosene, but, having a patent dash-ring packed with absorbent, the oil will not drip or spill over. The reflector and the lens are of the simplest construction, air-tight and secure, and both are removable for cleaning and polishing."

-- Outing Magazine, April 1898   

M&W banquet lamps and piano lamps are depicted in the Simmons Hardware Company Lamp Catalog No. 468 from 1905-06, see left margin above. One tubular lantern patent was assigned to them, so it is assumed that they manufactured lanterns as well. It would appear as though Matthews & Willard dated many of their items much the way automobile manufacturers designate model years. You may find lamp flame spreaders marked "M&W 95" or "M&W 97," indicating perhaps improvements in performance or design over the previous model. The same holds true for their bicycle lamp advertisements which may emphasize '97, or '98, which seem to be banner years for the sales and marketing of bicycle lights.

The Matthews and Willard Mfg. Co. was assigned at least eighteen lighting-related patents between July 12, 1892 and June 16, 1903. See the patent table below for details. John C. Miller was a major contributor having been involved in all but one of the patents listed below.
McClure's Advertisement
Advertisement for M&W '97' Bicycle Lamp
from McClure's Magazine, 1897.
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The odd-ball was a tubular lantern patent, dated 1903, by Frederick M. Sevens. Miller's work was primarily focused on the center draft lamp - air distributors (flame spreaders) and wick raiser mechanisms, as well as design patents for decorative fount holders and bases for banquet lamps.

Overall, John C. Miller has at least twenty-nine patents to his credit and a clear pattern of employment or loyalty develops. From 1889-1891, he had eight patents, all assigned to The Meriden Bronze Company, Meriden, Connecticut. From 1892 through the beginning of 1898, all patents were assigned to The Matthews & Willard Mfg. Co., as noted above. Miller's patent dated November 1, 1898 and his two 1899 patents are all assigned to The Miller Manufacturing Company of Torrington, Connecticut. Miller lists his residence as Torrington as well.

John C. Miller apparently started organizing his company late in 1897 or early in 1898. On January 28, 1898, an article in The Torrington Register notes that the new business "will endeavor to purchase some machinery in Ansonia" and that John C. Miller of Waterbury is the secretary-treasurer, that A.F. Migeon, J.C. Miller and John Alvord will sit on the board of directors. The article states that of the 500 shares of company stock, about half "...held by Mr. Miller and a Mr. Max D. Cohn, Jr., of Boston."5

John C. Miller Dead - Founder of
The Miller Manufacturing Company of Torrington

"Dr. L. Talcott has received a telegram announcing the death in Pittsburg, Pa. yesterday of John C. Miller, formerly of Torrington. Mr. Miller organized the Miller Manufacturing company which conducted a business of making bicycle lamps and other sundries in the building now occupied by the Belfast Mesh Company. He remained here for about six years and was well known in Torrington circles. He leaves a wife and six children. After leaving Torrington, Mr. Miller located in New York. For several years he has been at the head of the Pittsburg Lamp and Brass Company. The funeral will be held in Waterbury on Thursday afternoon. A number of Torrington People will attend."

-- The Torrington Register, January 29, 1907   

The Miller Manufacturing Company was incorporated as a Joint Stock Corporation on February 10, 1898 with a capital stock of $50,000. The company officers were: John F. Alvord, president; James A. Doughty, vice president; and John C. Miller, treasurer. The principle articles of manufacture of the company were art metal goods. This included lamps, tables, bronzes, bicycle trimmings, stove trimmings, mirror frames, and specialties in German-silver, brass and steel. The Annual Statement of The Miller Manufacturing Company dated February 15, 1899 lists the president as Achille F. Migeon. Of the five hundred outstanding shares, Miller owned one hundred shares; Migeon held twenty-five; John F. Alvord, fifteen; and James A. Doughty, five. There is no mention of Mr. Cohn noted above, and all five hundred shares are accounted for. Interestingly, The Coe Brass Manufacturing Company, which had a rolling mill in Torrington, held seventy-five shares.

In 1896, James A. Doughty is listed as the secretary of Coe Brass and president of The Torrington Manufacturing Company. Similarly, A.F. Migeon is listed as president of The Union Hardware Company, president of The Excelsior Needle Company (J.F. Alvord, secretary), president of The New Process Nail Company, and president of The Eagle Bicycle Company - busy men indeed!6

The Miller Manufacturing Company was listed in the Torrington city directories from 1898 through 1901 as: "Miller Mfg. Co., mfrs. Art metal goods, Church c. John." A Treasurer's Report on company letterhead, signed by Miller on March 2, 1901, lists the company's assets and liabilities at $76,840.63. This includes a line item for "patents" which are valued at $551.10, but there are not any details.

In August, 1901, the assets of The Miller Manufacturing Company were auctioned to the highest bidder. These assets, including machinery and stock, were estimated to be worth $30,000. The hammer price at the auction was a mere $4,000; the lucky bidder was a certain Mr. G.E. Cole. From the information in the obituary, one would conclude that this is when Miller moved to New York and then onto Pittsburgh.



Patents assigned to Matthews & Willard between July 12, 1892 - June 16, 1903
478802 483850 487955 532981 566208 566209 576876 594264
596783 599149 594265 595576 730981 D22422 D23671 D23672
D23673 D23674 650854 D31182
[ add'l patents will be added as discovered ]
D = Design Patent, RE = Reissue of an earlier Patent

To view any of the above patents, enter the number in the box below and select Query USPTO Database. This will take you to the specific patent images on the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Database. Learn more about the USPTO here.

Enter Patent Number ?/B> 


End Notes/References
  • 1 Davis, William T., ed. The New England States, Their Constitutional, Judicial, Educational, Commercial, Professional and Industrial History, Volume II. Boston, Mass: D.H. Hurd & Co., ca 1896.
  • 2 Lathrop, William G. The Brass Industry in the United States. New Haven, CT: The Wilson H. Lee Company, 1926.
  • 3 The Bicycle Oil Lamp (Part I), The Rushlight, Volume 51, No. 3, September, 1985.
  • 4 The Bicycle Acetylene Lamp, The Rushlight, Volume 52, No. 2, June 1986.
  • 5 The author would like to thank Carol Clapp, Librarian, from The Torrington Historical Society in Torrington, Connecticut, for copies from the Society's archives, summaries of the city directory entries, excerpts from the early newspapers, and other information pertaining to the Miller Manufacturing Company history.
  • 6 Davis, p. 908.

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