Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Inventive Genius Of Henry Marcus Quackenbush

Imagine life today without an extension ladder, a bicycle, a scroll saw, darts, the nut cracker and picks, or an air rifle! It just wouldn't be the same, would it? Well, thanks to the brilliant inventive genius of Henry Marcus Quackenbush we never had to, or so many other things he invented. Read on to learn more about this man of vision.

Henry Marcus Quackenbush was born April 27, 1847 in Herkimer, New York. His brother and sister were scholarly but Henry preferred to tinker with mechanical components. At age 14 he began an apprenticeship with Remington Arms the gun maker, where he acquired the skills of an expert metalworker and gunmaker. In 1867, he began inventing and marketing his own devices. His first successful invention was the extension ladder. He sold the patent for $500.

Quackenbush set out to start his own company in 1871 and established the H. M. Quackenbush Co. He invented an air gun that became a very popular and is still very collectible and sought after today. He sold the patents for the gun to the Pope Brothers of Boston, who built and sold the product.

His company developed and made many products, ranging from rifles and sport firearms to kitchen gadgets and seafood tools. In 1876, Quackenbush designed the very popular .22 caliber Safety Rifle. In the 1880's, he began mass production of "gallery guns" and the Quackenbush name appeared in shooting galleries across the country.

His most famous and most successful inventions came in 1878, when he created the first nutcracker and nutpick. Patented in 1913, the spring-jointed nutcracker, a nickel-plated, solid steel nutcracker with four picks became very popular in households. Nearly 200 million of these nutcrackers have been sold worldwide since then. The Quackenbush company stopped making guns in the 1930's, but continued to make nutpicks and nutcrackers. Henry Marcus Quackenbush died in 1933, The following year his business was incorporated in New York as H. M. Quackenbush Inc. and the company moved into a new phase of success, run by Quackenbush family members. It was instrumental in manufacturing supplies during WWII, including bullet cores, shell casings and other screw machine products.

In 1979, H. M. Quackenbush Inc. acquired the assets of Utica Plating Co. Marketing and distribution of nutcrackers and related products transferred to M. E. Heuck Co., Cincinnati, OH, leaving metal finishing as primary line of business. The enterprise became the HMQ Metal Finishing Group LLC in 1998.

H.M Quackenbush, Inc. consisted of the following businesses:
  • HMQ Metal Finishing Group, L.L.C.
  • HMQ Chemtech, L.L.C.
  • HMQ National Plating, L.L.C.
In the spring of 2005 H.M. Quackenbush, Inc. filed for Bankruptcy protection in New York. The company assets were purchased by a competitor in the plating industry and the company closed it's doors.

According to the U.S. Patent Office, Henry is responsible for creating the following inventions:
  • Bicycle
  • Foot-powered wood lathe
  • scroll saw
  • darts
  • stair rails
  • extension ladder
  • bathroom shelf
  • nut cracker and pick
  • .22 caliber rim-fire rifle (3 models including a bicycle rifle)
  • air rifle/pistol
  • ammunition for his airguns including lead air rifle shot (BB's), felted slugs, and darts.
  • Kaleidoscope
  • garment hanger
In addition to the items he invented, he also had to invent the machinery needed to produce the items in a consistent manner for the consumers he served.

The H. M. Quackenbush factory, a four-story building with a tower, was constructed in 1890 on Prospect Street and employed 100 men. Gun manufacturing ended after World War I. During World War II, war-related products were produced. In 1987, a large building was added on North Main Street to house the electroplating business.
Nut Cracker

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