Saco & Pettee’s Cotton Machinery

In the 1900s, a Massachusetts textile mill advertises its concern upon a broadside of printed fine cotton

I n the 1900s, a Massachusetts textile mill advertises its concern; seeking to attract new customers or to remind old customers of its trade. The textile mill, Saco and Pettee, in part, were descendant, of a company begun in the early 1800s, the Saco Water Power Company. Their focus was the production and manufacturing of textile machinery.

What we are talking about — [This Fabric Was Made at the Soule Mills, New Bedford, Mass. on Cotton Machinery Built By Saco and Pettee Machine Shops Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts]. [New Bedford, Massachusetts, c.1902–1912]. Textile Broadside. 16¾ x 16¾ inches. White cotton with hemmed edges.

This advertising textile broadside was printed on cotton. This is not surprising as the broadside illustrates a cotton weaving machine built by the Saco and Pettee Machine Shops. Their factory was located just outside Boston on the Charles River in Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts.

The broadside’s cotton cloth, itself, was woven on a Saco and Pettee machine at the Soule Mills, a cotton cloth manufactory in New Bedford Massachusetts.

We speculate a company salesman, or drummer, would use this printed textile as a demonstrative prop, when trying to sell Saco and Pettee’s impressive machinery.

This textile broadside could have been used by salesmen from either the Soule Mills or the Saco and Pettee Machine Shops to demonstrate the quality of their weaving or of their machines’ capabilities, respectively. Image credit: Ian Brabner, Rare Americana

The company business histories of these two cotton weaving concerns help to bracket this broadside between the years 1902 to 1912. The Soule Mills, named after company president and Massachusetts cotton manufacturer Rufus A. Soule, were established in 1902.¹ The Saco and Pettee Machine Shops, itself formed by a merger in 1897, merged in 1912 with the Lowell Machine Shops to form the new Saco-Lowell Shops.²

It is also possible this printed textile was produced as a souvenir for factory visitors or for attendees at trade shows. Image credit: Ian Brabner, Rare Americana

Ref. 1. Old Dartmouth Historical Sketches: Number 67 | New Bedford Whaling Museum New Bedford Whaling Museum. [The Story of Cotton and its Manufacture into Cloth in New Bedford] accessed online May 2015. 2. Dyer Library and Saco Museum, Saco Revisited (Charleston SC, 2009), p39.

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