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Manufacturers Index - J. A. Fay & Egan Co.

J. A. Fay & Egan Co.
Cincinnati, OH., U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Metal Working Machinery

Last Modified: Aug 26 2019 1:37PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

The J. A. Fay & Egan Co. was formed by the 1893 merger of Cincinnati-based rivals J. A. Fay & Co., and the Egan Co. It continued the position of its predecessor companies as one of the world's largest manufacturers of woodworking machinery.

The 1893 merger was not a one-step procedure. It seems that the two parent firms created a co-owned entity, J. A. Fay & Egan Co., but each continued to operate fairly independently—as the Fay Department and the Egan Department—for several years. We have seen ads from each of the parent firms as late as January 1901. These ads do not mention J. A. Fay & Egan Co., and it seems likely that the machines themselves were not always marked with the post-merger name until after 1900. Thus, a "J. A. Fay & Co." or "Egan Co." name on a machine probably means "made in 1901 or earlier" rather than "made in 1893 or earlier".

One place where there was an abrupt transition from the pre-merger names to the post-merger name was in patent assignments. The earliest patent we have found that was assigned to J. A. Fay & Egan Co. is dated 1893-06-06, and we have found no patents assigned to one of the parent companies after that date.

Advertisement from the July 1902 "The Wood-Worker"

The year 1893 not only saw the creation of J. A. Fay & Egan Co., it was also the year that Frank Duryea made the first trial run of his new horseless carriage. At the time Cincinnati was the country's largest manufacturing center for carriages, and the Fay and Egan companies had benefited from this large hometown customer base. At the same time Fay & Egan's other markets, including railways and furniture manufacturers, had matured and business was shrinking as innovation slowed and existing machines were kept running rather than replacing them with new.

Fay & Egan fell onto hard times by 1928, and then went bankrupt in 1937. It was acquired by Walter F. Schott from the Egan family. Schott sold many assets but continued the woodworking machinery manufactory. In 1957, a fire destroyed many foundry patterns.

In 1977 the company was liquidated. According to Batory's book, a Cincinnati businessman purchased some of the assets and created a new business, Dels Inds, to supply parts and documentation on the old machines. That company has long since disappeared. Writing in 1985, Chandler W. Jones in Planers, Matchers and Molders in America says, "Today, Fay & Egan functions as a division of James A. Wulfeck, Inc., building a limited line of woodworking machines. Primary efforts are in the metalworking area."

See the entry for J. A. Fay & Co. for pointers to its predecessors. From the 1850s through to the 1920s, Cincinnati was probably the biggest center in the world for the manufacture of woodworking machinery. Some of the company names suggest the intertwined nature of the business relationships over the years:

A separate history of J. A. Fay & Egan Co. is worth a read, although its view is decidedly biased towards the Egan Co. compared to J. A. Fay & Co.

Information Sources

  • April 1893 Carpentry and Building.
    We understand that it is the purpose of the new J. A. Fay & Egan Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, to designate the plants formerly occupied by the old concerns as the Fay Department and the Egan Department, both of which will be run by the same foreman and workmen as heretofore. Each department will continue to construct machinery from the same patterns and of precisely the same type as before. but with improvements which will be added from time to time, thus keeping the same standard of excellence which characterized the productions of the older establishments.
  • Dana Batory's first book has an entire chapter devoted to this company and its predecessors.
  • Randy Wilson compiled a timeline for this firm, based primarily on Cincinnati city directories:
    • 1856 Fay, J.A. & Co., Mfr. wood working machinery.—ws John b Front & Columbia
    • 1857 Fay J.A. & Co. Mfr. wood working machinery,—ss Augusta b John & Smith
    • 1860 Fay, J.A. & Co. Mfr. woodworking machinery,—swc Front & John
    • 1870 Fay, J.A. & Co., mfr. patent wood working Machinery—swc John & Front
    • 1873 Egan, Thomas P. b.k. Steptoe, McFarlan & Co.—(Western Machine works; mfr. wood working machinery & machinist tools, 216-222 w. 2nd.)
    • 1875 Egan, Thomas P. (Cordesman, Egan & Co., wood working machinery—sec 2nd & Central
    • 1892 Fay, J.A. & Co., mfrs patent wood working machinery,—swc John & Front. Egan Company (The), wood working machinery—Central Av., Front, John & Greenleaf
    • 1893 Fay, J. A. & Egan co., wood working machinery,—nwc Front & John
    • 1922 Fay, J.A. & Egan co., wood working machinery,—402-422 W. Front
    • 1923-40 Fay, J.A. & Egan co., wood working machinery,—34th Ave & Robertson Ave, Oakley
    • 1941-45 Fay, J. A. & Egan co. mfrs of wood working machinery—parts and supplies, 1110 Alfred
    • 1947 Fay, J.A. & Egan co. mfrs of wood working machinery—parts and supplies, 2021 Eastern
    • 1976 Fay & Egan Co. machine mfrs. 2011 Eastern—
    • Merged with Greaves Machine Tool Co. Source; Cincinnati Enquirer Obituary of Edward R. Gabriel; Aug. 11, 1988