Rhode Island Tool Company

Rhode Island Tool Company

This text is from the Rhode Island Historical Society, which posesses an impressive library of company documents in it's holdings:

 The Providence Tool Company was the outgrowth of the business ventures of two brothers. In 1834, Joseph and Jeremiah Arnold began manufacturing nuts and washers in Pawtucket. When Joseph retired, Jeremiah joined William Field, named their business William Field & Co., and moved to Providence in 1846. In April 1847 the name was changed to the Providence Tool Company.

            The company is known for its ammunition production. However, in its early years, it primarily made hammers, pick axes, marlinspikes, nuts, and bolts. In 1856 it merged with the Providence Forge and Nut Company. The Providence Tool Company was successful in supplying machine parts and tools across the nation.

            The Civil War created a demand for companies to make munitions for the Union army. The Providence Tool Company took up the call and began weapons manufacturing in 1861. The Company hired Frederick W. Howe, a former supervisor at the Robbins and Lawrence Armory in Windsor, Vermont, to help start the manufacturing of arms.

            During the 1860 and 1870s the company continued to produce hardware and machinery. The business expanded so much that in 1867 it opened an office in New York and London. In 1869 the London office closed and when the company encountered difficulty in 1875, the New York office closed as well. In 1873, it received a contract from Singer Sewing Machines to make sewing machines and made machines under other brand names.

            From 1872 to 1875, the Providence Tool Company obtained arms contracts with the Turkish government. These contracts helped finance the company's expansion from 148 West River St. to additional plants at 41 and 95 Wickenden St. By the turn of the century the Tool Company had produced 850,000 firearms. The Turkish government did not pay for the arms produced by the 1873 and 1875 contracts. The company became involved with legal battles and lost money on interest and defaulted loans. Finally in 1885 the company reorganized as the Rhode Island Tool Company, which still exists in 1999.

Our research indicates that while still operating as the Rhode Island Tool Co., The concern was acquired by L. S. Starrett in 1963.