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John Hope and Sons (USA)

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of Providence, R.I.

Makers of engraving machines.

1910 American Machinist article about engraving hardened steel scales here.

The following information is taken from the website of the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project[1] :-

JOHN HOPE -- The name of Hope is inseparably interwoven with the history of textile printing, and more especially with the art of engraving rolls for use in the calico printing industry. The House of Hope was founded in Manchester, England, in 1810; was established in Providence in 1847; incorporated there in 1890; and now exists bigger and stronger than ever as John Hope & Sons Engraving and Manufacturing Company, the officers being at this time (1918) Charles H. Hope, president, and William H. Hope, secretary and treasurer.

The English history of the family business dates back to the time of Sir Robert Peel (about 1780), the father of calico printing in England. Three generations of Hopes have been connected with engraving rolls for calico printers. The great-grandfather of the members of the present house, John Hope & Sons, was associated with Sir Robert Peel. The founder of the American house was John Hope, who passed away in his ninety-second year.

John Hope was born in Salford, Manchester, England, December 30, 1820, son of John and Catherine (Roberts) Hope. He was educated in the schools of Salford, and at the age of fourteen years entered upon an apprenticeship of seven years duration with his father, John Hope, Sr., under whose direction he learned the art of roll-engraving. In 1841, in partnership with his elder brother, Edmund Hope, under the firm name of John & Edmund Hope, he took over the old Manchester establishment of his father, and within a short period had so successfully developed the business that its products were known in the calico printing industry throughout the world. John Hope was a genius of the highest order, and the delicate engraving done by the firm was under his personal supervision, some of it done by himself.

In 1846 Philip Allen, then a well-known manufacturer and printer of calico, of Providence, R. I., visiting Europe, made the acquaintance of John Hope, and was given an opportunity to inspect the Hope plant and familiarize himself with the work of the firm. Realizing the vast field which the textile printing industries of New England offered to a man of the ability of John Hope, Philip Allen urged him to transfer his business to America. In 1847 the firm of John & Edmund Hope, with the machinery of the English plant, and an English working force, was established in the city of Providence, and began the manufacture and engraving of copper cylinders in the old Durfee Mill, which was located at the corner of Cranston and Dexter streets, on the site of the present State armory. The unsurpassed excellence of the work of the new firm brought it a large clientele among the huge mills of New England, and its success was insured from the very outset. In 1850 larger quarters were necessary and the firm leased the Livsey building, at the corner of Point and Richmond streets. In the same year Edmund Hope retired from the partnership and his place was taken by his brother Thomas, who always took a lively interest in the business, looking after the financial end.

Around this period John Hope brought to perfection his greatest invention, the pantograph engraving machine for the engraving of copper cylinders for printing all grades of textiles. The pantograph, representing the highest development of machine engraving, revolutionized the business of roll-engraving. It had been an idea of the senior John Hope that machine-shop would be a good adjunct of the engraving business, and when the new plant was opened at Point and Richmond streets the sons had carried out the idea of their father, and a machine shop was a part of the new plant. It was here that John Hope finally brought to completion and gave to the world a machine which engraved most accurately textile rolls and which is used to-day by the governments of the United States, Canada, China and Japan for the finer branches of steel and copper plate engraving. Other machines from the 'House of Hope" followed the pantograph machine; among them were the machines for graduating, numbering and lettering steel rules and finely-graded tools, and for engraving dies, and others of the pantograph group. In each of these machines the genius of John Hope was paramount. Until 1865 the firm was styled John & Thomas Hope. During the Rebellion, Mr. Hope visited the industrial centers of Europe, where he introduced his machines. On his return to Providence it was again necessary to enlarge the facilities of the firm, and in the latter part of 1865 the business was removed to the corner of Dorrance and Dyer streets, and subsequently to No. 158 Cove street. At this time the late Heber LeFavour, then adjutant-general of Rhode Island, was admitted to partnership, the firm name becoming Hope & Company, which it remained until the death of Mr. LeFavour, when the old title of John & Thomas Hope was reverted to. In 1882 they purchased a desirable site on Mashapaug street, and erected the factory where the business is now located. In 1890 the business was incorporated as John Hope & Sons Engraving and Manufacturing Company.

John Hope ranks among the leading inventors who directed their genius to textile machinery in the latter half of the nineteenth century. He was the inventor of the first pantograph engraving machine which possessed any real merit, and in developing his invention to the highest point of efficiency did away with the former tedious and expensive process of hand work. The pantograph system of engraving was more generally assimilated in the United States than in Europe at the outset, but is now used throughout the entire world. The business enterprise founded by John and Edmund Hope in the city of Providence in 1847 is now the largest of its kind in the world. John Hope possessed, in addition to his talent in mechanical lines, great ability as an executive and organizer. He was widely-known in business circles in Rhode Island, and was active in the management of the John Hope & Sons Engraving and Manufacturing Company until ten years prior to his death, when he retired to private life.

In 1854 Mr. Hope married Emma Cordwell, daughter of Joseph and Rachel Cordwell, of Manchester, England. They were the parents of ten children, eight of whom survive: Emma Cordwell Hope, died in Providence, R. I., July 17, 1878. John Hope, died on September 8, 1912, at the venerable age of ninety-one years. He had lived to see the machines he invented penetrate every part of the civilized world, and to know that the projects to which he had devoted his genius and strength for three-quarters of a century had revolutionized an industry.


CHARLES H. HOPE, president of the John Hope & Sons Engraving and Manufacturing Company, and son of the late John and Emma (Cordwell) Hope, was born in Manchester, England, February 8, 1862. In 1866 John Hope returned to America after a tour of Europe in the interest of his pantograph engraving machine, and established his family in Providence. Charles H. Hope received his elementary education in the public schools of the city, later attending the Mowry & Goff English and Classical School, and the Schofield Commercial School. At the age of eighteen he became associated with his father, and began the long period of apprenticeship which eventually fitted him for the position of importance which he occupies in the firm to-day, and developed ot the highest point of efficiency and creative power the inventive genius which has placed him among the foremost rank of inventors of textile machinery in New England. He mastered every department of the business of the 'House of Hope', and rose through the different grades to the office of president.

On May 3, 1892, Charles H. Hope patented his first important invention, the no-reduction pantograph, for the engraving of large drapery designs from the original size; this process elimates about fifty per cent of the labor entailed in the old method of hand engraving. The invention of the automatic roll grinding and polishing machine, patented May 24, 1910, made it possible for Mr. Hope to make a success of the engraving of steel cylinders for schreiner finish, as the work depended upon having a very fine polished surface preparatory to engraving. These machines are also being adopted by all the print works for automatically grinding and polishing copper print rolls, eliminating all hand-grinding and waste of stone, besides doing the work far superior and saving seventy-five per cent labor cost. The leading newspapers use these machines for imparting a fine surface on their huge copper cylinders, preparatory to printing the pictoral section of the paper. He is also the inventor of a process for producing a changeable silk effect on cotton fabrics. Mr. Hope is a prominent figure in business and manufacturing circles in Providence. .......

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Rhode Island USGenWeb Project - History of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: Biographical NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920'These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project. Transcription and pictures 2001-2 by Beth Hurd'