Charles Parker was born
|Charles Parker Hanging Lamp
Lamp photo courtesy Jeff Ebersole
on January 9, 1809, in Cheshire, Connecticut. In 1827, at the age of 18, Charles started making pewter buttons for Anson Matthews in Southington, Connecticut. His wages for the month were six dollars, plus his board. After a year with Mr. Matthews, he worked for Harry and Horace Smith, who also manufactured buttons. In August, 1828, Charles accepted a position with Patrick Lewis of Meriden, Conn., a manufacturer of coffee mills. In 1829, Charles started his own business. He then contracted with Patrick Lewis (his former employer) and Elias Holt to make coffee mills, entering into an agreement to manufacture a certain number of units per month. In 1831 he took in Jared Lewis as a partner in the same venture. In January 1832, he sold his interest in the firm to Jared Lewis, bought some land in Meriden, erected a shop, and went into the manufacture of coffee mills and waffle irons. Lewis & Holt failed in 1833, leaving their market share of mills up for grabs, and Charles seized the opportunity. Toward the end of 1833, Charles formed Parker & White, with his younger brother Edmund, and Herman White. After the financial panic of 1837, the business suffered and was dissolved in 1843. In 1844, on his own again, Charles expanded his facility and added a Corliss eighty horse-power steam engine, adopting the name "Union Works."
During the next few decades
|Parker Diamond Quilt Hanging Lamp
Lamp photo courtesy Jeff Ebersole
, there were a lot of changes. Charles' older brother, John, became associated with Charles and Edmund in 1843 producing brass and iron foundry products under the name C.& E. Parker Company. In 1860, the name became J.& E. Parker. By 1845 Charles Parker was operating plants in two different locations in Meriden. He added a third location in 1848 in Yalesville, in partnership with Gary I. Mix, to manufacture flatware. In 1851 a fourth location in East Meriden was added, called Parker & Perkins, with Russell Perkins as a minority partner. Around 1845, Parker acquired Oliver Snow & Co., which, in 1850, became the Meriden Machine Company. The barrage of mergers, acquisitions and company name-changes during this period is staggering and of little use to this discussion. Should the reader desire more details on the metamorphosis of the company, the author recommends reading the two-volume set, The Parker Story
. Ultimately in 1877, with his health failing, Charles Parker consolidated all his operations under a joint stock company named The Charles Parker Company. Mr. Parker was the president; his son Charles E. Parker, vice-president; his son Dexter Wright Parker, treasurer; and his son-in-law, William H. Lyon, secretary.
The Parker operations
Charles Parker Patented Self-Closing No. 2
cast iron match safe, patented October 6, 1868.
Some also marked May 3, 1870 on the inside.
Sold for $20 per gross in the 1886 Parker Catalog.
The 1868 patent is No. 82,752 by Hiram Richmond,
the 1870 patent is No. 102,676 by George Greer.
were generally a "family affair." Their many divisions produced a wide array of products over the years. Parker is probably best known for their firearms, namely the Parker Brother's Shotguns, which were, and are still famous worldwide. Parker divisions also produced hinges, locks, and door hardware; scales, spectacles, match safes
, waffle irons, coffee mills, vices, flatware, lamps and chandeliers, furniture, clocks, curtains and more. Many Parker family members were employed by, or managed the firm over the years. The Parkers were related by marriage to the Bradleys of The Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company
, whose assets they would ultimately acquire in 1940.
The Charles Parker Company was assigned at least thirty-nine lighting-related patents between June 12, 1860 and July 6, 1897. See the patent table below for details. The Parker Story identifies 257 patents assigned to or invented by Parker family members or employees of the Parker companies. In the lighting arena, noteworthy inventors include Dexter Wright Parker, Charles Parker's youngest son, with twenty-two patents, fourteen patents granted for lamps individually, and eight patents granted jointly, mostly in conjunction with Lewis F. Griswold. Griswold's name appears on at least twenty-four patents. Dexter Wright Parker would eventually become president of the Charles Parker Company when his father passed away on January 31, 1902.
In 1931, Parker stopped
|The RAYO Lamp
producing it's line of lamps. However, on June 13, 1940, Parker acquired The Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company
, including all the land, buildings and machinery. Parker moved much of it's operation to Bradley & Hubbard's four-story complex on Hanover Street. Parker not only needed the additional space, but also the more modern equipment that Bradley & Hubbard was utilizing. Parker continued to operate their acquisition as the Bradley & Hubbard Division. The B&H Division continued to produce the RAYO lamp for Standard Oil Company, possibly into the late 1940's and early 1950's. In 1957 The Charles Parker Company was acquired by the Union Manufacturing Company of New Britain, CT., with the last remnant of the Parker operations ending around 1987.
|Patents assigned to Charles Parker, June 12, 1860 - July 6, 1897|
|D = Design Patent, RE = Reissue of an earlier Patent|
To view any of the above patents, enter the number in the box below and select Query USPTO Database. This will take you to the specific patent images on the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Database. Learn more about the USPTO here.
- The author wishes to gratefully acknowledge the contributions to this project made by friend and collector, Jeff Ebersole. Jeff graciously and unselfishly provided me with access to The Parker Story and with the wonderful images of the hanging lamps - the most magnificent ever produced.
- Davis, William T., ed. The New England States, Their Constitutional, Judicial, Educational, Commercial, Professional and Industrial History, Volume II. Boston, Mass: D.H. Hurd & Co., ca 1896.
- Parker, Lewis C, III, et al. The Parker Story, Knoxville, TN: The Parker Story Joint Venture Group, 2000, vols 1 & 2.