Pottstown Machine Company Photographs
Scope and Contents
This collection contains 366 photographs, a four-page inventory, and one advertisement. The photographs are black and white and vary in size. Almost all of the photographs are of machines manufactured by the company. Several include the interior of the company’s buildings and/or personnel. Many of the photographs have written and/or stamped information on the front and/or back. This information includes company names (possibly photographers or purchasers) and/or information about the actual machines. Several of the photographs include a detailed caption, date and emblem from the General Electric Publicity Department. Part of the collection is an album that may have been used as a catalog. This album included four leaves of a typed list describing items in the photographs and a 5.75” x 6.75” advertisement piece showing a photograph of a man working on a machine and a written description of the machine. There are also two oversize photographs pasted on cardboard backings.
- Pottstown Machine Company (Organization)
John R. Saylor was the founder, owner and president of the Pottstown Machine Company. Saylor was born on February 4, 1862 in Parkerford, PA. He obtained trade training as a machinist from the Ellis Keystone Agricultural Works in Pottstown, PA. He then went on to work for fifteen years at the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. Saylor was responsible for constructing the Baldwin exhibit for the World’s Fair, held in Chicago in 1893. In 1895, he started his own business called the Pottstown Machine Company. He was elected into the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in August, 1917. The company was formally incorporated in July, 1926. Saylor died on October 21, 1926 in his Pottstown home. Mrs. Elizabeth E. Saylor succeeded him as president of the company. American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 48 (1927): 1448. Chancellor, Paul, Marjorie Potts Wendell and Paul Wescott. A History of Pottstown Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania: The Historical Society of Pottstown, 1953; Reprinted 1974.
The Pottstown Machine Company was founded in 1895 by John R. Saylor. It was located at Rohland Street and the Reading Railroad on a five-acre piece of land. From the start, the company “specialized in general machinery-service work, and in the production of gray-iron castings.” (Chancellor 98) It also serviced “narrow-gauge locomotives for the Eastern Steel Company; as well as general service work for the steel and wrought-iron industries of Pottstown” throughout its earlier years. (Chancellor 98) During the early 1900s, the company started to manufacture fitting-tapping machines and other “specialized tools for threading, tapping, and other operations on pipe fittings, valves, electrical fittings, and similar products.” (Chancellor 98) This became the primary work of the company for many years, which led to the development and use of the term “Pottstown tappers” around the world. These specialized tools were utilized by important local firms, along with others in the United States, Canada, Mexico, some South American countries, England, Palestine, South Africa, Australia, and many countries in Europe. Beyond these specialized tools, the company provided service and foundry work for many principal industries both in Pottstown and surrounding areas. Throughout both World Wars, the company produced “heavy-duty latches for turning shells, along with other equipment for military use.” (Chancellor 99) As of 1953, the company had “approximately 100 employees, and included in its facilities are a gray-iron foundry, pattern shop, forge and heat-treating shop, and machine shops.” (Chancellor 99) Saylor was president and owner of the company from 1895 until his death in October, 1926. His widow, Mrs. Elizabeth E. Saylor succeeded him as president. The company was formally incorporated in July, 1926. American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 48 (1927): 1448. Chancellor, Paul, Marjorie Potts Wendell and Paul Wescott. A History of Pottstown Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania: The Historical Society of Pottstown, 1953; Reprinted 1974.
5 boxes, 10 linear feet
Language of Materials
Pottstown Machine Company Photographs (circa 1900-1932) contains 366 photographs, one advertisement, and an inventory. Each of these items relate to the Pottstown Machine Company, Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The subjects of the photographs are the various machines the company manufactured. Some include the interior of the company’s buildings and/or personnel. The advertisement includes a photograph of a man using one of the machines and a short description of the machine. The list contains descriptions of some of the photographs (see Boxes 4-5.)
The Pottstown Machine Company collection has been organized based on the manner in which it was received. There were five groups of photographs, which appeared to be arranged by size, and one album of photographs, which appear to have been for a catalog of the company’s products. All items in the collection have been placed in protective sleeves and divided into five different boxes and two envelopes. The album was taken apart and put into sleeves in the exact same order, in the interest of preservation. The five items that accompanied the album are stored in the beginning of Box 4. The two oversize photographs are stored in separate envelopes.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was acquired by Lehigh University’s Special Collections in November, 2006.
- Pottstown Machine Company Photographs
- Erin K. Martell
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA