Historical information

The string has long been a household and office utility, but an easily tangled one. generations of manufactures have devised cast-iron string holders and string reels in an attempt to distribute this material more efficiently. Many different designs of cast-iron string holders exist some nickel, others painted many had an open pattern so clerks behind the counter of the general store could see at a glance if he or she was about to run out of string. In the 20th century, string holders became more decorative, morphing into novelty items for the home.

Starting from 1869, the young carpenter by trade, Melvin Newton Lovell (1844-1895) from Erie, Pennsylvania, later a manufacturer and successful businessman, was granted numerous patents for various devices, between them several patents for adding machines and cash registers in 1891.
The Lovell Manufacturing Company was founded by Melvin Newton Lovell who was born in Allegheny, Venango county, Pennsylvania, on 31 August 1844, to Darius T. Lovell (1815-1855) and Susan B. (Conover) Lovell (1827-1883). When Melvin Lovell was a boy, the family moved to Kerrtown, a village located in the vicinity of Titusville, Pennsylvania. There Melvin served an apprenticeship as a carpenter's and his natural mechanical talent, soon enabled him to become a skilled workman.
In 1861, at seventeen years of age, Melvin left home, without parental authority, and joined the Union Army soon after the outbreak of the Civil war, in August 1862, he enlisted as a private in the 127th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and was discharged the end of May 1863. In 1865 he took up residence in Erie, where he worked as a carpenter for some years.
In 1869 Melvin Lovell invented and patented several useful articles for household use, and in that year he began the manufacturing certain of these inventions, in partnership with Franklin Farrar Adams, another inventor. The company's principal products were washing machines and step-ladders but also made many other cast iron household items known as the “Anchor Brand” when manufacturing began in earnest in 1881.
As a result, the Lovell Manufacturing Company grew to be one of the largest industrial concerns of its kind in the country, recognized as being the most extensive manufacturer of clothes-wringers in the entire world. Lovell established sales agencies for his products in all parts of the country, and these branches were known as the Lovell stores. These goods were sold on the instalment plan, an innervation at the time for which Lovell was credited as the originator. Lovell invented and patented the famous wringer which bears his name, and in later years he confined his operations largely to the manufacture and improvement of this invention.
Lovell was also one of the organisers and stockholders of the Combination Roll & Rubber Manufacturing Co, of New York, which was formed to manufacture his patents. With headquarters in New York and a factory at Bloomfield, New Jersey. Unfortunately, during a trip to Atlanta, while representing the state of Pennsylvania at a trade exposition, he passed away in his prime, on 21 November 1895, and was buried in Erie Cemetery, Erie, PA.
Today the Lovell Manufacturing Company and foundry is preserved and situated at Lovell Place 1301 French Street Erie Pennsylvania, the site is regarded as a historic complex and national historic district. It includes nine contributing buildings built between 1883 and 1946 and has now been converted to luxury apartments.


An item used in shops, offices etc to dispense string although the item was commonly found in many areas of general commerce. It was made by a factory and patented in the USA by Melvin Lovell who had invented the first adding machine and the original mangle or wringer washing machine used in every house throughout the world from 1891 and the forerunner to our modern day washing machines. Its age and connection to this once notable maker and his company and it's age makes it an interesting item from a historical view point.

Physical description

Dispenser,cast iron for string with a central rod & 2 curved handing hooks.

Inscriptions & markings

Marked Anchor Brand & blue in colour.