J. & E.R. Barbour
Wrenches, Mechanical Rubber Goods, Engineer's Specialties, Steamboat, Railroad and Mill Supplies, contractors for Steam Machinery and Appliances, Boots and Shoes, Other
The DATM solely lists their data as confusing and notes the mention of a wrench for sale in an E.H. Barbour catalog.
While the DATM lists the company as existing in 1891, a catalog in our collection gives a date of establishment as 1801, noting they have "90 years in business. J. & E. R. Barbour, Engineering and Ruber Goods, Lubricating Oils, &c., Nos. 8 and 10 Exchange Street. This firm was established in 1801 and is the oldest in the tate, if not New England. They commenced busines by the manufacture of Boots and Shoes, at the same place where they are now located. The work was then done by hand, and they employed from eight to twelve men. When Rubber Boots and Shoes were first brought to this section, they came to Salem, Mass., which was then the principal seaport; and to that place, Mr. John Barbour (then the junior, now the senior member) journeyed by stage, bringing back to Portland the first rubber goods worn in Maine. Soon after mechanical goods were manufactured rom rubber by the Boston Belting Company which was established in 1828 , and incorporated under its new name in 1845. The superiority of their goods is so well known all over the world that they require no especial mention here. Mssrs. Barbour have always been their agents.--[Leading Business Men of Portland.
The catalog offers a number of products, including many products related to heavy machinery such as belts, pumps, pipe fittings, engines and tools to service such machines. The catalog even offers a small steam engine fitted with a 2 Horse Power Shipman Steam Engine which runs on kerosene oil fuel. Companies whose produts are offered include files by G&H Barnett, belts by India Rubber Company and Boston Belting Co., asbestos disc brass radiator valves and asbestos packed cocks by Fairbanks, plyers by C.S. Osborne & Co., hammers by Yerkes & Plumb and Simonds Mfg. Co., screwdrivers by M.& Co., leatherworking tools by G.T.&Co., Graham, Stillson's, Ashley's patented wrenches, and a number of other miscellaneous products by various manufacturers. It is difficult to discern which products were actually manufactured by this company as many items have no brand listed but are not explicitely credited to J. & E.R. Barbour (as in the case of the wrenches--see photo). Though there are a number of unbranded items depicted, the majority of items in the catalog seem to be from other companies, suggesting J. & E.R. Barbour functioned largely as distributors by 1891.
Nelson, Robert E., Ed. (1999). Directory of American Toolmakers: A listing of identified makers of tools who worked in Canada and the United States before 1900. Early American Industries Association.
Barbour, J. & E. R. (no date). Catalog: J. & E. R. Barbour, dealers in mechanical rubber goods, engineers specialties, steamboat, railroad, and mill supplies, contractors for steam machinery & appliances. Nos. 8 and 10 Exchange Street, Portland, Maine. Poole Bros. Printers and Electrotypers, Mechanic Falls, ME. IS.