Nicholson File Company

The Nicholson File Company was the largest manufacturer of files and rasps in the United States. William Thomas Nicholson, whose father was a machinist, apprenticed as a machinist himself at the age of 14. This was with Paul Whitin & Sons in Whitinsville, Rhode Island. He moved to Providence in 1852 to work with Joseph R Brown which would become Brown & Sharp. He opens a shop with Isaac Brownell in 1858, buys out Brownell in 1859, and partners with Henry A Monroe in 1860. This was to manufacture Springfield rifles for the war.

William begins working out problems with file cutting machines while working with Monroe. Many had tried to make a file cutting machine before and all had failed. Armed with patent number 42,216 dated April 5, 1864 William opened the Nicholson File Company. The poor quality of machine-made files up to this point would make the first few years difficult. William approached file making as a series of processes that included marketing. The company was soon making hundreds and then thousands of styles to match particular tasks. Increment Cut files and rasps were being produced for everyone from jewelers to blacksmiths.

A series of acquisitions fueled growth. Many of these occurred from 1890 to 1903. These included the American File Company, Western File Company, McClellen File Company, Buckley File Company, Eagle File Company, Arcade File Company, and Kearney & Foote. The brand name was retained for some of these companies. The American Screw Company was acquired in 1903. The company was directed by four generations of family until sold to Cooper Industries in 2011.

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