Notes on Rivett Company history


1871: Edward Rivett (age 20) moves to Springfield, Mass. and goes to work in New York Watch Factory.


1872: Edward Rivett leaves New York Watch Factory and moves to Boston, where he goes to work for C. A. W. Crosby, "watchmaker and jeweler" [E. Rivett's ASME obituary]. Crosby's business may have been at 472 Washington Street.


1884: Edward Rivett and C. A. W. Crosby found Faneuil Watch Tool Company; first premises (according to ER's ASME obituary) "the first 'factory' was a wooden extension of his own home." Later, factory is at 1 Brooks Street in Brighton, although catalogs give address as Faneuil Station. First products of firm appear to have been a watchmaker's lathe and the No. 3 bench lathe.


1887: According to FWTCo.'s ad in The Keystone for Jan. 1890, the Rivett Lathe received "Highest Award at Mechanics' Fair, Boston, Massachusetts, 1887."


1890: According to a short notice in Jewelers' Circular for Dec. 1890, FWTCo. "are preparing to increase their production to meet the growing demand for their "Rivett" lathe, staking tool and line of watchmaker's small tools. They feel much encouraged at the reception their goods have met with from the trade."


1891: An ad in JC for July 22 states FWTCo "have added a good deal of new machinery to their plant and are turning out lathes and watch tools in larger quantities than ever, to meet demand."


FWTCo. advertises itself [The Keystone for June 1891] as "largest staking tool manufacturers in the United States."


1892: FWTCo.'s ad in January The Keystone shows (and implies new) factory: 9775 sq. ft., largest in country for manufacture of watch tools.


1893: FWTCo. offers (via ad in Jan. The Keystone) the Crosby Lathe, without steel bed, oil cups, solid flange in cone pulley, and hardened tailstock spindle, for $45 vs. $52 for Rivett lathe with all those features. One wonders how many they sold.


FWTCo. receives awards in the World's Fair for its "bench lathes and attachments, watchmakers' lathes and attachments, staking tools and the rivet (sic) patent friction clutch." [JC for 10/11/93]


1894: C. A. W. Crosby dies, firm continues with (son) John D. Crosby as treasurer.


1895: FWTCo. receives gold medal at Boston Mechanics' Fair "for watch tools and machinery" [JC for 12/4/95.] Introduction of 8" Precision Lathe, forerunner of 608.


1895-1897: E. Rivett redesigns watchmakers' lathe, resulting first in "transitional" lathes with new-style bearing at rear of spindle, advanced by ring nut, but otherwise identical to previous outside-guide type 1 lathes. Only a small number of these are made, before they are supplanted by the Type 2, with center guide and rear spindle bearing controlled by screw beneath it.


1899: L. C. Reisner & Co. of Lancaster, PA offers (via ads in 4/26 and 10/4 The Jewelers' Circular) the Lancaster Special Lathe, explicitly stated to be made by FWTCo., for $24.44 with 6 wire chucks or for $34.50 with 24. Similar "special" lathes offered by several other jobbers.


1901: A gold medal is awarded to the Rivett lathe at the Pan-American Exposition. FWTCo. is now claiming "more space is devoted to the manufacture of the Rivett Lathe than any other watchmakers' lathe in the country." [The Keystone for December]


1902: Fire causes $5000 damage to FWTCo.'s factory at 1 Brooks Street., Brighton. [Jewelers' Circular for May 28, 1902]


FWTCo. now advertises "We are the largest manufacturers of Lathes and Staking Tools in the world" [The Keystone for April]


1902?: Faneuil Watch Tool Company, Incorporated This may be a sign of the change described next.


1903: Edward Rivett buys out the rest of the business from C. A. W. Crosby's heirs, renames company Rivett Lathe Manufacturing Company


First usage of "No. 2" designation for Rivett Watchmakers' Lathe [The Keystone for Dec.]


1904: FWTCo.'s ad in the January Keystone announces a new (cheaper) watchmakers' lathe with cast iron bed and ring rather than flange on the cone pulley for indexing. The steel bed lathe will continue, both versions will be marked "Rivett Lathe."


1905: "Faneuil Watch Tool Co." disappears from ads in The Keystone, replaced by "The Rivett Lathe" and "Rivett Lathe."


1906: A Rivett Lathe ad in the May Keystone announces that they are very busy and have orders ahead which they will not be able to fill until August.


In April Rivett sold the staking-tool patents and business to Kendrick & Davis of Lebanon, New Hampshire, who continued to market the Rivett staking tool for some years.


1908: In January, a Keystone ad announces RLMCo.'s addition to their factory, doubling its capacity. In March, they claim "Through this depressing time, the merits of the Rivett Lathe have kept our factory running full time with the additional capacity." In May, they announce the "Ideal" collet, claiming it "has been made for over two years in our factory but was not advertised, as we were unable to fill our orders."


1910: An ad in the April Keystone announces that their modern factory is running to capacity.


1911: An ad in the November Keystone states that RLMCo.'s "ads. have been absent for some time because we could not keep up with our orders; we were so busy that we had neither time for, nor need of, advertising. While we are devoting most of our time to the more profitable manufacture of our Grinders and Precision Bench Lathes, which sell on an average of $1000.00 each, being the highest priced Bench Lathes in the world, we are still making a certain number of Watchmakers' Lathes every year, following the urgent request of expert Watchmakers throughout the country who appreciate an accurate and up-to-the-minute Lathe. Our aim is PERFECTION, not QUANTITY."


1912: Edward Rivett sells part or all (?) of the company which is then renamed Rivett Lathe & Grinder Company. According to a note in an August, 1912 issue of American Machinist magazine "The Rivett Lathe and Grinder Co., Boston, Mass., was recently incorporated to succeed the Rivett Lathe Manufacturing Co. Edward Rivett retains the office of president, and will resume his duties in that capacity upon his return from Europe in October. As already announced, W. H. Shafer, formerly superintendent of the Cincinnati-Bickford Tool Co., has become associated with the new organization, and will act as vice-president and general manager. R. G. Morse, formerly with the General Electric Co., will act as secretary and treasurer, while G. S. DeLany will be superintendent, a position he formerly held with the Stevens-Duryea Co. The manufacture of the same class of machinery will be continued." We do not know yet how long this arrangement continued, but Stone's Massachusetts Industries (1930) comments "In 1912 a group of financiers purchased the business and incorporated it as The Rivett Lathe and Grinder Company. Unfortunately, the several managements which succeeded were neither successful in retaining the interest of Edward Rivett, nor of carrying out the progressive policy which he had pursued in directing the business for himself." suggests that it was relatively short-lived. Both of Rivett's obituaries state that he retired in 1912.


1915: A substantial addition to the plant was completed, and during the war years the company was very active, employing at one time over two hundred men and shipping in one year about $800,000 worth of machine tools and accessories. [Stone]


1919: Depression follows the end of the war.


1920: A further addition to the plant doubles its previous capacity. [Stone]


1921: A voluntary receivership is arranged; "Complete reorganization and refinancing were undertaken, and in October, 1921, less than a dozen hands were employed" [Stone]


1923: In May, company is reorganized as The Rivett Lathe and Grinder Corporation.


ca. 1920s: The watchmakers' lathe line is sold to Derbyshire.


1928: Blanchard pulsating automatic lubrication system introduced


as of 1930: [Stone]: "Thorvald S. Ross is president, Merle E. Johnson, treasurer, and Francis S. Moulton, secretary of the corporation. The main office is at the Brighton plant, and branch offices are operated in New York City, and Detroit, Michigan. The corporation has capital of $460,000 and employs 250 operatives.

1933: Albert Hunt joins Rivett as assistent to T. S. Ross

by 1935: Rivett Lathe & Grinder Incorporated

1955: Albert Hunt becomes president.


1966: Rivett Lathe & Grinder, Incorporated is acquired by Applied Power Industries, Inc. Machine-tool part of Rivett is sold by Applied Power Industries to Leland-Gifford Co. of 1001 Southbridge, Worcester, Mass. 01601; products continue to be advertised at least through 1967 under title Rivett Lathes & Grinders, manufactured by Leland-Gifford Co. Hydraulic control part of business is combined with Dynex (another Applied Power subsidiary) to form Dynex-Rivett, which continues to the present at 770-T Capitol Drive, Pewaukee, Wisconsin 53072, with a branch at 54 Nickerson Road, Ashland, Massachusetts 01721


1967: Leland-Gifford Co. is acquired by White Consolidated. A Machinery ad from June 1967 offers "Rivett Lathes and Grinders from Leland-Gifford Subsidiary of White Consolidated Industries, Inc." Still later, machine-tool business transferred to White's Fay-Scott Division in Dexter, Maine, all relics of machine-tool business are disposed of in a Maine landfill sometime during the 1970s.