I’m taking my annual trip to Newtown this week to speak to some 4th graders about Connecticut history. We’ll talk Charter Oak, Nutmeg, Constitution State etc. but I like to sprinkle in a bit of local history as well if I can. Something about Newtown that not many folks know is that back in the 19th century the town was a local hub of comb and button manufacturing.
The Newtown Historical Society website (which is quite informative) says this “Button and comb production was another thriving industry in 19th century Newtown. Since Newtown was primarily an agricultural town, it was natural that an industry that utilized a waste product from animal husbandry such as horn, bone, and hoof would develop and do very well here. At one time there were as many as 14 button shops in full production. After the Civil War, however, as plastics took over as the preferred material for both comb and button making, the shops began to close. By the beginning of the twentieth century just two of the button shops remained in business. One, S. Curtis and Co., survived by converting to the manufacturing of cardboard boxes and survives to this day as Curtis Packaging, Inc. The other suffered a disastrous fire in 1926 and closed for good. “
With this in mind here are a couple of Newtown patents related to the button and comb industry:
From 1854 a patent for “Manufacture of Wooden Buttons” granted to LL and AL Platt:
Next we have a Comb patented by Ammon Taylor in 1881: