We celebrate so many great Waltham companies here at the Charles River Museum–Charles Metz's Waltham Manufacturing Company, the W.H. Nichols Company, and of course, the one which gave us the nickname "Watch City," the Waltham Watch Company. And we have many artifacts on display from each of these historic and important manufacturers. However, we cherish the history and the innovation of the Boston Manufacturing Company, the company whose walls house the Museum today, most of all.
We unfortunately have very few artifacts from that great and historic company. As America's first integrated factory and the first place where mechanized power looms wove cotton fabric in the US, the BMC, founded in 1813 by Francis Cabot Lowell, was responsible for a major leap in the American Industrial Revolution. Directly tied to the city of Lowell (founded by BMC partners and named in honor of the late company founder), and inspiration to so many American industrial and manufacturing cities which helped forge our country's greatness, the BMC is arguably the most important of all Waltham's historic companies.
So it brought us great joy to have recently acquired a seemingly simple pair of socks, made here, and branded with the Boston Manufacturing Company name.
These stockings, labeled size "6" and bearing a simple trim of three red stripes, are one of the very few products of the Boston Manufacturing Company currently in our possession. As historically important as the company is, it was fairly a nondescript manufacturer in its own time and, while even then recognized for its innovative origins, it seems very little of the company was preserved for posterity when it ceased operation in 1930. That these socks, seemingly, aside from some light staining, to be in what might be called New-Old-Stock condition, have survived and come back home to us is truly remarkable.
Our fascination with these humble items has just begun. While we know that they originated from the BMC, we don't know when they were manufactured or what other products would have been made alongside them. We will keep you updated as we discover more!