The collection includes over 1000 pieces of brass finishing tool designs and components, as well as some documentation, all
from the American finishing tool company, Hoole Machine and Engraving Works.
From Tom Conroy: John R. Hoole emigrated to America from England, where he had been a bookbinders’ finishing tool maker, around
1830. This was very early in the history of specialist finishing tool makers (as opposed to general engravers, who had done
the work in earlier centuries). The trade coalesced because of the great amount of work involved in engraving large dies for
the stamping of edition bindings, not just the manufacture of small tools for one-off bindings. Hoole and his children built
a flourishing firm in New York, and became a major retail bookbinders’ supplier as well as a manufacturer of finishing tools.
Several other American firms had similar 19th-century arcs. Around 1890 the firm passed out of family hands and moved to Brooklyn,
and surviving Hoole tools (which are common) show that the amount of machine work increased dramatically around the time of
the move. With the 20th century the binders’ supplies side of the trade sloughed off, and the manufacture of finishing tools
declined. Between the Great Depression and the 1960s all of Hoole’s American competitors went out of business, and after the
1960s Hoole itself probably made no finishing tools, though they remained available to make them. The firm survived because
it had branched out into page-numbering machines and other metal stamps, finally declining to a one-man general machinist’s
shop. Thus, the Hoole firm lived through the whole arc of the specialist bookbinders’ finishing tool maker’s trade; and all
its American competitors disappeared half a century ago, leaving almost nothing to record their existence beyond the tools
they made and their listings in city directories. In addition, it was at the top of the trade in America, both for size and
for quality, for most of its existence. Any historical materials on the Hoole firm and how it worked are vital to understanding
the finishing tool trade, which was a key supplier to the binding trade.
Hoole Machine & Engraving Works
New York and Brooklyn, NY
Addresses in Brooklyn: 29-33 Prospect Ave. ; 30 Main Street.
Directory of American Toolmakers Information
While the "Est" date is 1832, this name and the Brooklyn address may be post-1900. The Hooles were America's most prolific
bookbinding toolmakers, including John R. Hoole and his son, William E. Hoole.
Approximately 17 linear feet.
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