Harnischfeger Corporation

Harnischfeger Corporation
Item# 2337
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Harnischfeger Corporation
Henry Harnischfeger, who co-founded P&H; Mining Equipment with Alonzo Pawling in 1884, was born in Salmuënster Kreischlichtern, Hessen Nassau, a very old town in Germany on July 10, 1855. His parents were Constantine and Christina Harnischfeger. Constantine ran a small tannery and also farmed the family’s small plot of land to make ends meet.

Harnischfeger attended school taught by monks of the Order of Saint Francis. For a time, Henry thought he might become a monk, or perhaps a tailor. However the Franciscan Brothers encouraged him to pursue a locksmith apprenticeship instead. With support from his parents, Henry learned the locksmith trade.

Eager to seek his fortune, Henry prevailed upon his father to let him emigrate to the United States. A cousin, Michael Habig, had done so five years before, and Henry wanted to pursue his career in America. On March 23, 1872 Henry began his journey. He landed at Castle Gardens, New Jersey on April 9, 1872. Henry moved in for a short time with his cousin, Michael, who owned a bakery. Through Michael, Henry met some employees of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Soon after, Henry joined Singer and was put to work manufacturing sewing machine parts. Henry was laid off when business fell off later that year, but he quickly found employment as a locksmith with a local firm.

Six months later, eager to gain further experience, Henry moved to Providence, Rhode Island where he secured a job with the Rhode Island Locomotive Works. He later moved to Brown & Sharpe where he worked on vernier calipers and other measuring devices. About this time, a financial panic swept the country and Henry was laid off again.

He returned to New York and worked in a Brooklyn saloon while seeking another locksmithing opportunity. Three months later he found employment manufacturing parts for trunks for the American Express Company. Soon after, Singer Sewing Machine Company opened a new factory in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Henry rejoined Singer, where he served in the tool department from 1874 to 1881. It was at Singer that he built the first automatic screw machine.

Henry studied engineering during his time in Elizabeth. In 1881, he pursued an opportunity to move to Milwaukee to work as a toolmaker for the Whitehill Sewing Machine Company. Mr. Whitehill was an inventor without manufacturing experience. He would change designs often, requiring new tools and often shutting down manufacture. Mr. Whitehill abandoned his sewing machine business in 1883 and carried on a general jobbing shop where Henry served as a tool department foreman. During this time, Mr. Alonzo Pawling was a wood patternmaker in the Whitehill Sewing Machine Company.

Alonzo Pawling saw that the Whitehill business was losing momentum and decided to start a new business, the Milwaukee Tool & Pattern Shop. The new business was short on capital and also machine shop experience. In November 1884, Pawling approached Harnischfeger about joining his firm as a partner. As operations at Whitehill were practically at an end, Henry made his decision.

On December 1, 1884, the partnership Pawling & Harnischfeger Machine and Pattern Shop got under way. The partners worked out of a small wooden building on Milwaukee’s South Side. In their first few years, Pawling & Harnischfeger created wood patterns for machinery inventors, and they manufactured small components for other firms.

In 1887 they helped rebuild and improve upon a failed overhead traveling crane for the E.P. Allis Company. The new crane was far superior to the original, and soon other customers approached “P&H;” for more such cranes offering increased performance and reliability.

Suddenly, P&H; had a product they could call their own. In 1912, seeking an expanded product line that would help the firm better endure economic downturns, P&H; began designing and manufacturing earth-moving equipment needed for America’s rapidly expanding infrastructure. Early P&H; earth moving machines included back-fillers, wheel trenchers, shovels, backhoes, and draglines.

P&H;, in fact, introduced the first gasoline engine-powered dragline after World War I. It was a truck-mounted machine that could be used for lifting, pile-driving, claming and dragging. P&H; then introduced a shovel-type excavator mounted on crawlers, and then a backhoe. The new machines had obvious applications in mining and construction, and Harnischfeger became a world leader in both fields.

At this, too, the firm was highly successful. Decades later, the P&H; brand is now synonymous with productive, reliable mining equipment and rock-solid support for cost-focused mining operations.


Certificate: Common Stock, issued in the 1970’s

Printer: Security-Columbian Bank Note Company

Dimensions: 8” (h) x 12” (w)

State: WI-Wisconsin

Subject Matter: Hardware and Tools | Heavy Equipment

Vignette Topic(s): Allegorical Featured | Winged Wheel or Gear | Globe Featured

Condition: Vertical fold lines, punch hole cancels in signature areas, and some toning and edge faults from age.





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