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Auburn Tool Company

Plane making at Auburn NY is discussed in detail in Chapter Seven, Contract Labor at New York State Prisons in "Plane Makers and Other Edge Tool Enterprises in New York State in the 19th Century, by Kenneth D. and Jane W. Roberts. [Cooperstown, NY, 1971]

Plane making started there in 1821 by Dunham and McMaster, using contract convict labor. The firm of Casey, Kitchel and Company held these contracts from 1847 to 1858. Casey, Clark and Company continued to hold them from 1858 to 1864.

Company History

The firm is known to exist from 1864 to 1893. George Casey reorganized the firm of Casey, Clark and Company as a joint stock company in 1864, under the firm name of Auburn Tool Company, capitalized at $700, 000. The 1865 New York State Census noted the firm as a manufacturer of plane, plane irons, and skates. The production that year was listed as 30, 000 pairs of skates ($45, 000 value), 35, 000 planes ($35, 000 value), and 25, 000 dozen plane irons ($12, 000 value). The plane irons carried the trade mark "Thistle"

Both skates and plane irons were made from welded wrought iron and cast steel. In manufacturing these products in 1865 the raw materials consisted of 35 tons of iron ($7, 000), 8 tons of steel ($3, 5000), and 30 000 feet of lumber ($4, 000). Estimating labor costs at $24, 000 (the figure reported in the 1870 US Census), and factory costs at $1, 500, the total costs amounted to $39, 000. Sales at $87, 000 yielded a profit of $48, 000. In consideration of the $50, 000 reported invested, this amounted to a very profitable business.

The Auburn Tool Company was among the five leading plane manufacturing firms. Others were: H. Chapin's Son; Greenfield Tool Company; and Sandusky Tool Company. Auburn Tool Company, with these others, was also a founding member of the Plane Makers Association, organized c 1858 to fix prices. The prices noted in this Catalogue were in agreement with these other manufacturers.

This firm was outbid for the contract of prison labor in 1866 by J.M. Easterly and Company. (1866 to 1868, succeeded by A. Howland and Company, from 1869 to 1874).

Upon losing the prison contract the Auburn Tool Company constructed a new building and continued in the plane business with private labor. The 1870 US Census reported the firm had 21 machines, driven by water power, employing 66 males, producing annual products valued at $70, 000.

After A. Howland and Company was dissolved in 1874, the Auburn Tool Company again used contract labor at the State Prison until 1877.

A detailed account of operations at the Auburn Tool Company in 1884 is presented by D.M. Kurtz - Auburn, New York - Its Facilities and Resources. [ Auburn, New York, 1884].

The Auburn Tool Company merged with the Ohio Tool Company of Columbus, Ohio, on Nov 14, 1893. Although plane manufacturing was continued at Auburn until after 1907, after this merger the firm there was under the name of Ohio Tool Company.

Personal History


I have no information on the founder, or his family.


The company history was taken from information printed by Kenneth D. Roberts, April 1983, on the end papers of his reprint of the 1869 catalogue.

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