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