Ridgely Trimmer Co., Springfield, OH, manufactured tools and equipment for the wallpapering and painting trades, including a line of putty knives. The original business was Ridgely Decorative Co., incorporated Oct. 24, 1894 by inventor Charles T. Ridgely and several family members to manufacture tools and sell wallpaper, paint, and other supplies. Control of the manufacturing operation passed to Jerry K. Williams in Oct. 1900, and it was named Ridgely Trimmer Co. A brief summation of their long history is here. The article states that the firm went bankrupt in 1957, but we have been unable to confirm that.
Several company catalogs and excerpts of other catalogs are on the Internet Archive.
|National Painters Magazine, Vol. 50, Aug. 1923, pg. 67|
The following is quoted from A Standard History of Springfield and Clark County, Ohio, Vol. 2, Benjamin F. Prince, American Historical Society, 1922, pg. 166-167:
The Ridgely Trimmer Company, of which Jerry K Williams is the active head, is a large and prosperous industry and one of the most distinctive of the manufacturing enterprises centered at Springfield. It is the only factory in the world devoting its energies exclusively to the making of tools and supplies for the benefit of the decorator, painter and paper hanger. These tools, the product of a long line of inventive effort and experience, have served to lighten the burden of the world's work, and at the same time have enabled an increasing proportion of the world's population to secure and enjoy the advantages of the decorative arts in their own homes. How the business started is an interesting story. As usual it started with an individual who recognized the need of finding better methods, and had the inventive skill to devise something better than the tools then at his command.
This individual was Charles T. Ridgely, a paper hanger. When he first started work at his trade, like hundreds of other paper hangers at the time, he used a pair of shears with which to trim his paper. The use of shears continued until he decided that he could work much faster by using a knife. He designed a special knife for the purpose. Then one day while using it the knife slipped and one of his fingers was badly cut. His wife expostulated with him for using a knife, and said that after so many years of paper hanging he should be able to invent a safe and easy way of trimming paper. A woman's good advice and an accident were the original source of the invention of the Ridgely Trimmer. The first invention was relatively crude, and modem implements manufactured under the Ridgely name have only the basic principle in common with the first trimmer devised by Charles T. Ridgely about 1882.
Shortly after he had devised the invention, Mark Smith, a son of Mark Smith, who was a pioneer of Springfield, obtained an interest in it, and together these men made an exhibit of the trimmer at the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893. Their trimmer was awarded the only prize given to any device of that kind. This trimmer combined a straight edge and knife, and was used after the paste was applied. The softer the paper became the easier the machine worked and without danger of cutting the hand, chipping the straight edges or snagging the paper. A self -connecting gauge cuts the rotary blade against the straight edge and enables the operator to cut any weight paper without changing the gauge in the least.
It was in September, 1900, that Mr. Jerry K. Williams acquired the ownership of the Ridgely patents and plant. He organized a stock company known as the Ridgely Trimmer Company, and has been actively identified with the concern ever since and is its real directing head. When he took hold of the Ridgely Trimmer Company the output was one wall paper trimmer and one seam roller. The trimmer, which was then the dominating feature of the business, is now obsolete, and subsequent improvements and patents have resulted in a marvelously accurate and efficient machine now known throughout the world. Other devices have been incorporated in the manufacturing until the company now produces every tool known for the use of the decorator, painter or paper hanger. The company even employs experimental engineers whose sole business it is to devise or perfect tools that will relieve the hard work of the trade, produce more work with the same amount of labor and time, and add in general to the efficiency of an important branch of the constructive art.
The Ridgely Trimmer Company has a world-wide business. It owns a warehouse in England, and handles its business in Continental Europe, as it does in the United States, through its own salesmen and through jobbers. The company also has warehouses in Australia and South America. In the United States their warehouses are in New York City and San Francisco.