Howard Brothers Manufacturing Company started in 1866, named for three brothers: Albert H., Charles & John. With the passing of the other brothers, Albert H. carried on alone. Shortly after, the Warren Brothers of Holden, MA: Henry, Samuel and Berthier, became financially interested, as well as funishing a high grade of leather from their tannery. The character of these men started the organization on a solid foundation and guaranteed a product that has always been a "leader."
At first, the equipment totaled no more than two dozen machines. Gradually Howard Bros. increased so that in 1888 the Company was incorporated in Massachusetts. Our present location is now in York, Maine.
Our present machines are a long jump from those of the "Good Old Days". Back then much hard work was done, such as pricking the holes in the foundation and inserting the wire teeth. The next step was a small machine all made by hand to produce single teeth, which were distributed to women workers at their homes where work could be done as home duties permitted. One of these original machines is in our office. Soon after this was invented in the vicinity of 1780, President George Washington on his first "swing around the circle" in Boston, made this note in his diary of 1789: "I went to the Card manufacturer in Boston where there are machines for executing every part of the work in an expeditious manner, especially in cutting and bending the teeth which done in one stroke". History records this factory was operated by one Richards, also Ames and William Whittemore. Power for the factory was produced by wind wheel.
From this machine there have been steady developments so that at present the entire operation of pricking the holes, making the teeth, setting them in the foundation, is all done by one machine. Further, these are equipped with a stop motion which operates immediately if one single tooth is not right, or is missing. Our former President and General Manager, Herbert Midgley who succeeded Albert H. Howard, was proud of the fact that his father helped develop it.
What is Card Clothing? The word "Card" is from the Latin "cardus" meaning thistle, or thistle head; hence Card Clothing with its many wire points which in turn is applied to a machine called a Card Engine which is composed of a series of cylinders large & small, operating in coordination, the surface of which are covered or wound with Card Clothing. These machines can be anywhere from 40" to 72" wide, sometimes wider, the largest cylinder requiring 600 running feet of Card Clothing 2" wide. The width varies from 1" to 2" with variations now and then. It is absolutely indispensable in carding textile fibres for the spinning process, which in turn enables the production of yarn for all the limitless varieties of fibres.
Keeping step with the development of the machine has been the improvement in the different materials necessary for the construction of Card Clothing. In the "Good Old Days" the wire was ordinary soft iron; today a hardened and highly tempered steel wire that is remarkable for its longevity & uniformity. In addition it is exceedingly tough wire which in turn lead to the development of our Tufferizing process. "Tufferizing" is a precision process of accurately cutting and setting the wire into the foundation.
The wire must have a foundation, as it is the backbone of Card Clothing. One of our earliest endeavors was to specialize in our own foundation. Today each ply of cloth is made to our own exacting specifications, which call for long staple cotton, double carded yarns, specially prepared warp threads in the ply of woolen cloth, all of which then must be cemented or glued, which requires a fineness of skill and technique that can only come through accumulated experience.