Thursday, March 1, 2012

A history lesson

 56" 4H fly shuttle
Yesterday someone posted this question to the blog: "Hi Sarah, I love my Macomber loom, B5 1223 the metal plate reads Saugus, Mass and not York, Maine, what is the history behind the two locations"

Well this calls for a brief history lesson! I am actually going to quote an old newspaper interview with Rick Hart. This article was printed in the York Coast County Star on June 13,1979.

It is with a few smiles and chuckles that Rick traces the family business back to 1934 in Massachusetts when Cousin Della who was a well known weaving teacher in the Boston area and Uncle Leroy (Macomber) an engineer for General Electric teamed up to design a loom. 
R 10 1950 12H 56"
"She was trying to build looms on her own and not being very successful" said Rick. The partnership broke down in 1936, however, when Cousin Della and Uncle Leroy could not agree on the design. The Hart family still has a file of correspondence between the two. "It's interesting to see how it developed" said Rick.
     Notwithstanding the disagreement, there are no hard feelings, Cousin Della, now in her 80s, distributes parts for looms from Boston and receives mail for Macomber Looms. After the split, Macomber proceeded to open a small loom factory in his basement in Saugus. He worked with a few helpers three nights a week and on Saturdays producing a then one-of-a-kind 24 harness loom and making looms so that extra harnesses could be added on when the weaver became ore experienced or wanted to try something different.
      Fred Hart (Rick's father) joined his Uncle in 1945 and Rick joined the operation which had become more of a full time business in 1962 when he was only 14 years old. He worked afternoons and Saturdays and vacations for the company which had by then moved to two floors over a gas station in Saugus. Leroy Macomber passed away 1967 and the Harts bought the business after their aunt had run it in the interim.
    But Rick Hart yearned for the country life, so Macomber Looms moved from Saugus, Mass. to York in July 1977.
1950 R10 12H 56"
 So there you have it....the reason some looms were built in Saugus and some were built (and still are) in York.

Look as this: #1!
Look at these odd jack levers.
Number #1 Model B
Ironically right now in the shop there is the #1 Macomber Model B loom! This loom is in for a total make-over. The jacks are rather odd. But with some investigation Eddie found out why: the old harnesses were made of wood and this system allowed for adjustments.

Basically this loom looks the same as they are currently made, but the wood is quite dark.
So there you have it...a brief history of Macomber Looms.

Thanks for asking Erin!

Happy weaving! Sarah

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