Biographical / Historical
The original inventor of the Howe Scale was Frank M. Strong of Vergennes, Vermont. In 1855 while working for the Sampson Scale Company of Vergennes, he conceived of the idea of ball bearing protection for the scale. In 1856, along with Thomas Ross, Strong obtained the first patent.
The lever system was also simplified. This problem of accuracy led to a new ball bearing principle. The Strong and Ross improvement concerned a method for protecting the knife edges.
"A scale weighs by means of a system of levers. The fulcrum, or balancing support of this system is the sharp edge of a piece of steel called a pivot, on which the platform of the scale rests. When a load is placed on the platform the impact causes it to shift about on the pivots. This action tends to blunt the sharp edge of these pivots and affects the accuracy of the scale."
Frank Strong conceived of the idea of placing the scale platform on metal balls resting in cup shaped depressions over the knife edged pivots. This enabled the platform to move freely, absorb vibrations, reduce wear on the pivots and insure longer accuracy expectation of the scale. This invention became the first outstanding scale improvement in America, and was the real foundation of the present business.
The first scale with the new improved ball bearing was installed at Vernon Village Mills in Oenida County, New York in 1856. In 1857 the installation of a gigantic scale on the Morris Canal, Washington, New Jersey, for weighing canal boats was completed. The scales also took first premium at the Vermont State Fair in 1857 and 1858, competing with older and better known scales.
Also in 1857, Mr. John Howe, Jr., who owned a foundry at Brandon, lent financial assistance and in the Spring purchased all the patents taken out by Strong and Ross. The two partners remained with the company on a salary and royalty basis.
In 1858 the Howe Scale Co. began to win awards consistently at fairs and exhibitions throughout the country. By 1859 the Howe Scale Company had no competition at these annual events. At the Paris Exposition in 1867 Howe Scale took first prizes competing against all the manufacturers of the world.
In 1868 the Brandon Manufacturing Company was incorporated. The name was subsequently changed and the company merged into the Howe Scale Company in November, 1878. In 1873 Howe began manufacturing hand trucks as a utility measure to facilitate handling of scales and parts within the factory.
However, that same year 1873, proved disasterous. The warehouse, dryhouse, and office of the company was destroyed by fire. The company moved to Rutland.
In 1886 there was a general reorganization of the Howe Scale Company. The newly reorganized company was incorporated as the Howe Scale Company of 1886. John A. Mead of Rutland became president. A new Board was formed and held its first meeting in August of 1888. In 1920 Mead died and his son in law, Carl B. Hinsman was elected president. In 1925 the Mead interests were purchased by another management group, and Frank G. Riehl became head of the company. The new management purchased rights for the weightograph, a device which produces weight readings on a ground glass screen by means of optical magnification. This was one of the greatest innovations in weighing improvements since the original Strong and Ross patent.