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Object Timeline

  • We acquired this object.

-0001

1945

  • Work on this object ended.

2014

2019

  • You found it!

Machinist's Tool Chest (USA), early 20th century

This is a Machinist's Tool Chest. It was workshop of Used by Harold Albert Moore Latham. It is dated early 20th century. Its medium is wood, metal, felt, mirror, approximately 250 tools.

Albert Latham and his son Harold Albert Moore Latham used these machinist’s tools and toolbox during their careers at the United Shoe Machinery Company (USMC) in the early twentieth century.1 The seven-drawer chest contained nearly 250 machinist’s instruments, all well protected in felt-lined drawers. The bottom tray, actually the front of the box, swings up to keep the drawers from opening. The box could also be locked to secure owners’ tools, their most prized possessions.
The history of the USMC is emblematic of how industry became mechanized, enabling the mass pro-duction of a uniform shoe cheaper and faster than ever before. In the early twentieth century, it took more than 150 machine operations to produce a typical welt shoe, and any breakdown during the work¬day would halt production, making immediate repair imperative and skilled mechanics a necessity.

It is credited Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, 1989.0259.348.

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Its dimensions are

H x W x D (closed): 33 x 50.8 x 21.3 cm (13 in. x 20 in. x 8 3/8 in.) H x W x D (open): 49 x 52.5 x 48 cm (19 5/16 x 20 11/16 x 18 7/8 in.)

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/51682593/ |title=Machinist's Tool Chest (USA), early 20th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 August 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>