Malleable Iron Fittings Company Records
Scope and Content
The collection contains bound volumes of financial records arranged sequentially as well as administrative and financial records, regulations, blueprints, reports, patents and correspondence.
- undated, 1842-1962
The collection is open and available for research.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.
The Malleable Iron Fittings Company (MIF) was originally incorporated in 1864. Its history, however, can be traced back to 1841 when twenty-six year old Joseph Nason, known as “the father of steam heating,” established the Joseph Nason Company of New York to manufacture and sell pipe. Nason was patent holder of the globe and angle valve, the steam trap, cast and malleable taper joint pipe fittings, and the “radiator,” which name he created.
In 1842, Nason and his brother-in-law, James J. Walworth of Boston, founded the Walworth and Nason Company of Boston (later known as the Walworth Company) to manufacture equipment for and install steam heating, then a novelty. Both men, however, wished to concentrate on a proposed line of malleable iron fittings, a difficult and expensive process. In 1864, Nason and Walworth took over the Totoket Company of Branford, Connecticut, with this objective in mind. (Totoket was the original name of the city of Branford). The Totoket Company was originally incorporated in 1854 by Elizur Rogers and Benjamin Hadley for the manufacture of hardware and other goods from wrought, cast, and malleable iron, scrap, and other metals. The Totoket plant was ideally situated between New York and Boston on a busy waterfront and next to a newly built railroad.
The new company was organized as the Malleable Iron Fittings Company. James C. Walworth became president of the company. Joseph Nason returned to New York to run Joseph Nason and Company, although he continued to cooperate closely with Walworth. The early MIF was essentially a subsidiary of the Walworth Company. It produced malleable iron castings that were shipped to the Walworth Company for finishing. The Walworth Company continued as a separate company while MIF grew and earned a reputation of its own.
Elizur Rogers of the Totoket Company remained with MIF. Two Danish immigrants, Emil C. Hammer and Thorvald F. Hammer, also joined the company. Emil C. Hammer was an experienced business administrator and the treasurer of Walworth Company. He became secretary and treasurer of MIF. Since James Walworth and Joseph Nason were more concerned with the interests of their own companies, day-to-day management of the MIF company was left in the hands of Emil C. Hammer. Thorvald F. Hammer was a highly skilled technician in foundry operations. It was descendents of Thorvald F. Hammer who would become most identified with the future growth and management of the company. Indeed, as late as 1962, the company was managed, headed and owned by one or several members of the Hammer, Walworth, or the Nason families.
The company, however, got off to a slow start. At first it was able to produce barely a half ton a day. But as the steam heating industry grew, so did MIF. The company soon earned a good reputation, and Joseph Nason was even called to Washington, D.C., and awarded a contract to heat the Capitol based on his innovative plans. The original founders were soon followed by the next generation. Upon the death of James C. Walworth, his son, Arthur C. Walworth, succeeded to the office of president. Arthur C. Walworth, however, never assumed an active participation in the company. Real management of the company fell upon the shoulders of Alfred E. Hammer, son of Thorvald Hammer. For many years Alfred E. Hammer was treasurer and manager, and in 1921, upon the death of Arthur C. Walworth, he became president. Under his guidance, the company made significant technical contributions to the iron industry as a whole, especially in the creation of superior castings. Soon the company was producing pipe fittings for buildings, industry and oil fields, marine and highway hardware, oil burners, and later pole hardware for the growing electric power industry.
Malleable iron, however, is limited in its applications to fittings and small castings, and in 1906, in order to meet the growing demand for larger and stronger castings, the company began manufacturing steel castings by the “converter” process. Such castings were in high demand by the government during World War I and the company expanded and renovated its facilities in order to meet it. Electric furnaces and additional annealing equipment were added, and by World War II the company's steel production was about equal to its malleable iron.
During the Depression, Thorvald F. Hammer II, grandson of Thorvald F. Hammer, acceded to the office of president upon the death of his father, Alfred E. Hammer, in 1935. Thorvald F. Hammer II quickly created a new Board of Directors, and embarked on a program of mechanization that put the plant on a mass production basis. Thorvald F. Hammer II also improved the working conditions of his labor force by installing modern showers, locker rooms, and dust elimination facilities for the personal comfort of his workers.
In 1915, MIF employed one thousand people and had an annual production capacity of 23,500 tons. It was the largest industry in Branford, Connecticut, and the largest malleable foundry in New England. Unlike other companies, which dominated small towns, the owners of MIF, however, exerted little control over the town of Branford. In 1935, in the midst of Depression, the company's labor force shrank to 500 employees. The company also experienced its first strike in 1935 when the CIO tried to organize the plant. The strike was successful and the plant was unionized. MIF eventually recovered from the Depression, and employment at the company hit a peak of 1,200 persons just before World War II. Continued plant mechanization after the war again contracted the work force to about 700 employees.
By the late 1950s, however, MIF profits began dwindling as it met with stiff competition from larger competitors who operated on a national basis. In 1962, Thorvald F. Hammer II resigned the presidency when a group of businessmen headed by Robert E. S. Thompson acquired control of the company. Thorvald F. Hammer II became Chairman of the Board. This development marked the first time MIF had not been headed by a member of the Hammer family.
In May 1963, MIF acquired the Bigelow Company of New Haven, a producer of steam boilers. MIF now embarked on a new modernization program of both its own facilities and those of the Bigelow Company. In July 1964, MIF continued its expansion when it consolidated with the Detroit Brass and Malleable Company. The pipe-fittings operations of Detroit Brass were moved to Branford, and this division was renamed the MIF-Detroit Pipe Fittings Division. The company's name was also changed to MIF Industries, Inc. The consolidation was expected to double the output of pipe-fittings thereby increasing overall sales volume and earnings potential.
These increased earnings were in turn to enable the company to continue its modernization program.
These hopes were not realized. The company's profits continued to decline, and in February 1969, MIF Industries was sold to Waltham Industries, a Delaware-based corporation, for $4.5 million. MIF Industries now joined a long list of other New Haven area businesses that sought relief from their economic woes through mergers with national companies. The company now became a subsidiary of Waltham Industries, and some of the metals productions division of Waltham Industries was moved to Branford. The move was expected to enable MIF to expand and modernize more rapidly. As many as 200 additional jobs were also expected to be created. Thorvald F. Hammer II retired as Chairman of the Board of Directors after forty-eight years of active service to the company. Robert E.S. Thompson resigned as president and became Chairman of the Board of Directors. Charles R. Schubert, a Vice President of Waltham Industries, was named president and chief executive officer.
The company, however, did not prosper. In 1969, losses totaled $3 million before taxes on sales of 11 million. Because of these losses, Waltham Industries ended manufacturing at MIF Industries and converted it into a distributor of its own products. By 1971, the payroll had been reduced to fifty employees, down from 750 employees in 1969. In 1971, Waltham Industries began selling off or removing most of the assets of MIF Industries. A court injunction obtained by the town of Branford halted this process because the company owed the town $300, 000 in back taxes. The 117 year manufacturing era of MIF was essentially at an end.
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Language of Materials
Branford, Connecticut, metal foundry, founded by Joseph Nason in 1841 as the Joseph Nason Company. Name changed to Walworth and Nason Company of Boston, Massachusetts, to manufacture equipment and install steam heating, and then to Malleable Iron Fittings Company in 1864, which produced malleable iron castings. Collection consists of administrative records, including production ledgers, melting reports, inventory and shipment books, order books, salesbooks, correspondence, and payroll books.
The collection was donated to the New Haven Colony Historical Society by Irving Rohinksy in 1981.
The collection was donated to Archives & Special Collections in August 1982 by the New Haven Colony Historical Society.
- Blueprints (reprographic copies). Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Boiler-makers Subject Source: Fast
- Branford (inhabited place) Subject Source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
- Connecticut (state) Subject Source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
- Correspondence Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Financial records Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- History Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Industrialists Subject Source: Fast
- Iron industry and trade Subject Source: Fast
- Notebooks Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Personal papers Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Publications (documents) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Twentieth century. Subject Source: Fast
- manuscripts (document genre) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Malleable Iron Fittings Company Records
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- 1999 October
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