The extensive hardware manufacturing business of P. & F. Corbin
began with a partnership, formed by Philip Corbin, Frank Corbin,
and Edward Doen. Philip Corbin, the leading partner and head of
the firm, on coming to New Britain, was first in the employ of
Russell & Erwin for a few months, and then for about four years
was with North & Stanley.
Becoming acquainted with the hardware business, in 1848 he and
his brother, Frank Corbin, and Edward Doen, commenced the
manufacture of a few small articles in metal, in a shop built
for the purpose by Henry W. Whiting. The little machinery
they had was run by horse-power, the proprietors doing most of
the manual work themselves.
In the autumn of 1849, Mr. Whiting bought out Mr. Doen, and the
firm became Corbin, Whiting & Co. In January, 1851, the
Corbins purchased Mr. Whiting's interest, and the name was
changed to P. & F. Corbin, has ever since been borne both by the firm and by
In 1853, the business of the firm was removed to the shop on
Park Street, formerly occupied by Seth J. North Co., and was
considerably extended. In February, 1854, a joint stock
company was formed under the State law. The capital was
$50,000, and from forty to fifty hands were employed in making
coffin handles, shelf hardware, and bolts, principally of brass.
Andrew Corbin, after working for some time in the jewelry
manufactory of Churchill & Lewis, became a stockholder in the P.
& F. Corbin Company, and took
an active part in the business, first as the company's agent in
New York, and afterwards in cooperation with his brothers in the
supervision of the business in New Britain. John M.
Spring, superintendent of the manufacturing department, and
others in different positions, have also had a special interest
in the growth and development of the business.
Soon after the close of the civil war, or in 1865, additional
land was bought, upon which a large iron foundry was erected,
and iron goods became an important branch of manufacture.
In the same year, a large four-story brick building, adjoining
the factory, was purchased, and the capacity of the works was
increased by the erection of additional buildings. The
company was one of the first to introduce the manufacture of
brass and bronze goods in builders' hardware. In 1868 they
added the manufacture of locks, latches, and a variety of
ornamental bronze goods; largely increased the size of their
foundry, and extended the main building.
New shops have since been erected and new machinery added, until
the works cover an area of several acres on Park and Orchard
streets. In 1887, the manufactory and property of the Francis
Manufacturing Company, on North Stanley and East Main streets,
was purchased and soon after fitted up for the business of the
company. The goods manufactured include builders' hardware in
its variety, ornamental bronze door and house trimmings, iron
and brass, wood, and machine screws, and a variety of hardware.
The line of goods includes those needed from a palace to a
peasant's cottage. The company have furnished large government
buildings in Washington, and both public and private buildings
in different parts of the country. It has warehouses in New York
Philip Corbin, the founder of the business, has been president
and treasurer from the organization of the company. Oliver
Stanley is secretary.
History of New Britain: With
Sketches of Farmington
and Berlin, Connecticut, 1640 - 1889
by David N. Camp. A.M.