ALS about gun manufacturing
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WHITNEY, JR., ELI. (1820-1894). American manufacturer and entrepreneur; son of Eli Whitney, Sr., the inventor of the cotton gin and proponent of interchangeable parts. ALS. (“Eli Whitney”). 1p. 4to. New Haven, July 19, 1848. To D&H Scovil Hoe Company co-founder Hezekiah Scovil (d.1904).
I have recd from a gentleman in Boston 6 bars of bl. iron suitable for rifle barrels with the request that I would give it a trial. It is not convenient for me to make the trial, and he wants me to send it to some one, who will make trial, & report upon the iron; which I have no doubt is of excellent quality. It is a foreign iron. Will you try it & report this gentleman in Boston as to its quality & request Tryon or Ashton to report to you fully about the working of it & its passing inspection etc… P.S. Please answer per return of mail. You have not replied to my letter about the black smiths bellows offered for sale some time since. I intend running lehigh fires mostly.
Whitney carried on the legacy of his father and namesake with his success in arms manufacturing. After taking control of his father’s armory in 1841, he arranged with Samuel Colt to manufacture his famous handgun and diversified the output of the plant, which previously had only produced long arms. His marriage to the daughter of the chief of ordinance for the U.S. Army further secured his place in American arms production. The father of our letter’s recipient had been apprenticed to Whitney’s father, from whom the elder Scovil learned to produce gun components. D&H Scovil Hoe Company, founded in 1844, manufactured a type of hoe, its agriculture use another similarity between the Scovil and Whitney family enterprises. Whitney’s statement about “lehigh fires” probably refers to the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company’s innovative furnace that burned anthracite coal. Prior to the 1830s, iron furnaces were charcoal fired. Folded and in very fine condition. Uncommon.