Little Giant trip hammer history corrected
Thanks for Nikki Rajala's interesting article (Farm Collector, August 2007) about the Mayer brothers and the Little Giant tractor. There is, however, one discrepancy worth addressing. The writer notes "Louis (Mayer) invented the trip hammer at a machine shop the three (brothers) opened in 1895."
Upon further research, I discovered that the Chinese had trip hammers in 200 B.C. Trip hammers reached Europe in the 13th century. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) made sketches of trip hammers. The earliest known trip hammer in America was most likely at Saugus Iron Works in the Massachusetts colony between 1646 and 1668. Our town, Collinsville, Conn., was home to the Collins Co., at one time the world's largest manufacturer of axes and other edge tools. In 1832, they installed water-powered trip hammers made by David Hinman to replace blacksmiths in the production of their tools. By 1850, these trip hammers were steam-driven.
Although the Little Giant trip hammer (or "power hammer" as they were often called) was a popular brand in the early 20th century, it was by no means the first. I am enclosing a picture of a model of Hinman's trip hammer.
- Michael Wolff
The Canton Historical Society
11 Front St.
Collinsville, CT 06019