Historical information

1833 Brown & Sharpe was founded in Providence, Rhode Island by David Brown and his son Joseph R. Brown. David Brown retired in 1841 and Joseph Brown formed a partnership with Lucian Sharpe in 1853. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Brown & Sharpe was one of the best-known and most influential machine tool builders and was a leading manufacturer of instruments for machinists (such as micrometers and indicators ) and helped establish: The American wire gauge (AWG) standards for wire; The Brown & Sharpe taper in machine tool spindle tapers; and The Brown & Sharpe worm threadform for worm gears. .Like most machine tool builders, Brown & Sharpe rode a business cycle roller coaster during 1920- 40. After being kept very busy during World War I, builders suffered a slump in the post–World War I recession and depression of 1920–21. The Roaring Twenties brought renewed sales, but then the Great Depression slashed them. The armament-build-up period of 1936 to 1940 again renewed machine tool activity, and then the World War II materiel effort exploded demand, pushing it to record heights and employed 11,000 workers. Brown and Sharpe machine tools were a mainstay of American metal manufacturing until the late 20th Century and could be found in most machine shops and factories that worked with metal. Brown and Sharpe made callipers and micrometers that were essential to products built to fine tolerances. Shortly after World War II, Henry D. Sharpe, Jr. succeeded his father as president of Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company, at which point it evolved into a new and modern company built, or at least designed, to last. The firm stopped producing its old stalwarts: sewing machines, hair clippers, and certain categories of machine tools and employment dropped to 3,500 in 1976. Due to industrial disputes in the 1980’s B&S started focusing more on developing Coordinate-Measuring Machines. The company began to lose money as it shifted production away from machine tools and toward advanced metrology equipment, losing $14.6 million in 1990 and employed only 700. In 1994 Brown & Sharpe acquired DEA of Italy, an established manufacturer of CMMs. In 2001, substantially all of the assets of the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company, including the intellectual property, designs, trademarks, facilities and inventory, were acquired by Hexagon AB, Switzerland, without the acquisition of the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company itself.

Physical description

A set of manual barbers’ hair clippers with an adjustable wing screw, from Brown and Sharpe, Manufacturing Company Ltd., Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Chrome plated, in fair condition, c1940

Inscriptions & markings

on Right handle; MADE BY BROWN & SHARPE MFG. CO. POV. R.I. / PAT'D IN GREAT BRITAIN, EN FRANCE, S.G.D.G. / U.S.A. PATENTS JULY 1-79, JUNE 3-84, AUG 23- 92 on top blade ; BRESSANT / TRADEMARK on base of lower blade ; No. 2