New Hermes Model GM-2, circa 1980.
This Gorton heavy duty pantograph (circa 1976) was used here for 3-D
machining of a turbine wheel.
A close up of the tool head on the Francis Engraving machine, circa
the late 1700s, the pantograph advanced in functionality when it was adopted
by the printing trade. Until that time, printers had to carve letters by
hand (printing type); with the use of the pantograph, printers could create
letters for printing faster and more consistently, thanks to Guttenbergs
invention of the concept of movable type in his printing press.
When you think about how many letters there are in one newspaper article
(let alone the whole newspaper!) you can imagine what a boon the pantograph
was to printers everywhere.
Jefferson is said to have used a version of the pantograph as well. In 1770,
devastated when a fire destroyed his family home, burning all his papers
and books. He encountered another loss ten years later as governor of Virginia,
when the British raided Richmond. Our nations third president was
known for both the quality and quantity of his writing, and he meticulously
recorded journal entries about the particulars of his days. Especially after
suffering the loss of so much of his work, Jefferson was concerned with
preserving it, and he spent many hours painstakingly copying his correspondence
by hand. What he really needed was a copy machine.
Franklin to the rescue! In 1780, Franklin first brought the idea of a copying
machine to Jeffersons attention. Franklin had been dabbling with a
copy machine concept of his own when he learned of one that had already
been built by James Watt, an inventor who also created the steam engine.
Watts creation was somewhat different from the pantograph as we know
it today it consisted of a slow-drying ink and damp tissue paper
which worked by pressing the tissue to the paper, then again on a new page
to create the transfer. Franklin sent Jefferson one of Watts machines
in 1780, and Jefferson liked the machine so much that he made it portable
and used it for more than 20 years.
from the Scripta Machine Tool Corp. of Fairfield, NJ., circa 1979,
turned almost any pantograph into a reversing pantograph, allowing
for mechanically reversing of the image for reverse engraving.
In 1954 Marcel Vitoux (French engineer and inventor of the Vitos Silk
Stocking Mending Machine) approached Schimmel and proposed that his
French company manufacture parts for New Hermes engraving machines.
An alliance between New Hermes and Gravograph was born.
heavy duty floor pantograph was manufactured by Lars Machine, Inc.,
Racine, WI, around 1980.
the early 1800s, Jefferson switched to a machine that more closely resembled
todays pantograph. Developed by John Isaac Hawkins, this new machine
was comprised of as many as five pens that were held in place by a series
of horizontal and vertical arms. Any movement of one pen was duplicated
by the other four, so that up to four copies of a document could be made
at once. As an early copy machine, it got the job done, and it was an advancement
in the pantographs long journey toward the world of engraving.
modern invention has its roots in the early days of the pantograph
the fax machine. Taking the copy machine concept a step further was Briton
Alexander Bain, who in 1843 created a device that consisted of two pens
connected to two pendulums, which in turn were joined to a wire that could
reproduce writing on an electrically conductive surface. The concept took
another step forward in 1862 thanks to Italian Giovanni Caselli. He built
a machine that was part pantograph, part telegraph (called, appropriately
enough, the pantelegraph) that was based on Bains invention but included
a synchronizing contraption. The pantelegraph was used by the French Post
& Telegraph agency between Paris and Marseilles from 1856 to 1870.
Werner Dannheisser joined Schimmel at New Hermes as a full partner
in 1939 after Gene Kapp (Schimmels original partner) decided
to leave. Dannheisser handled the company financial matters.
A Gorton Model P 1-2 industrial pantograph from Lars Machine, Inc.,
(circa 1979) had a roll-indexing fixture that provided accuracy when
machining an 0 ring groove.
Hermes Tennis Racquet Engraver (circa 1978) was one of their machines
for niche markets.
1870, the fax and pantograph parted ways, each being taken forward in
different directions. The pantograph took its next step forward as the
industrial revolution unfolded, when the device was refined so as to utilize
variable ratios and to have the ability to perform machining operations.
Early Engraving Machines
people began exploring the various uses of the pantograph, engravers picked
up on the machine and adapted it to their needs. Until that time, pantographs
had been used for tracing and copying on flat surfaces. In the mid-to
late-1800s, someone had the idea to replace the drawing tool with
an engraving tool, and the modern-day pantograph engraving machine was
the first pantograph machines to be used expressly for engraving was the
Francis Engraving Machine, invented by Allan Everett Francis of Garrettsville,
OH. In 1881, Francis received U.S. patent 238,882 for new and useful
improvements in engraving machines. The Francis machine was small
enough to sit on a table top, and it worked in much the same way as modern
pantographs do, by tracing a grooved pattern with a stylus to reproduce
and engrave a design onto a work-piece.
Francis pantograph contained parts that could be adjusted to accommodate
varying thicknesses of objects that were to be engraved. It was also able
to engrave objects at different ratios. The work holder could be swiveled
in a circle to allow the easy positioning of the engraving. And one of
the biggest advancements of the Francis machine was an attachment for
inside ring engraving. Francis offered a variety of ornate photo-engraved
zinc type fonts, which were bent into an L shape so as to
enable the letters to be locked in place by the vise-like oak copy table.
drawing from the March 15, 1881 patent for the A.E. Francis Engraving
two pages are from the Eaton & Glover, NY, NY, New Century Machine
training manual, circa 1901.
of the most unique aspects of the Francis machine was the look of the
engraving it produced. A steel graver (similar to a hand engraving tool)
actually cut into the surface of the metal (as opposed to todays
method of using a diamond graver to scratch the surface) and created a
look that was similar to the hand engraved or bright
cut look that was widely accepted then. This cut was made by hand
engravers by pushing a V-shaped graver through the metal; the ensuing
cut was wide and brilliant. The Francis machine was able to duplicate
this look by using a swivel that would allow the graver to be rotated
in a circle. Manually controlling the swivel mechanism, while simultaneously
using the correct pressure and positioning to engrave a piece, was a feat
in dexterity and skill that took time and patience to learn.
primarily by jewelers to engrave watches and rings, the Francis machines
output closely resembled hand engraving. The Francis machine became quite
popular, and the machine shown in figure XX was even rumored to have been
used to engrave the casket plate for the coffin of one of the nations
most infamous bad guys, John Dillinger, after he was gunned down by early
FBI agents outside Chicagos Biograph Theatre.
the Francis machine was around for quite a long time, from the early 1880s
until sometime around or after 1920. During those years Francis sold a
lot of machines both to jewelers and to various funeral-related concerns,
including undertakers and casket manufacturers. In our article titled
Don Knapp: Sixty-Five Years of Engraving (Jan/Feb 1981), the
late EJ subscriber Don Knapp reported that he began his 65 year
engraving career using a Francis machine while working in a jewelry store
in Howell, MI.
early pantograph to become popular was from The Eaton & Glover Co.,
New York, NY. Invented by William T. Goodnow of Sayre, PA and William
S. Eaton of Sag Harbor, NY, Eaton & Glovers New Century
Engraving Machine was another option for engravers who were looking to
automate work and perhaps speed up their engraving jobs. Eaton & Glovers
machine was patented under U.S. patent 729,758, which was filed September
New Century Machine manual, kindly sent to EJ by retired EJ
subscriber Rick Davies, extols the benefits of using the machine (Remember
that it would take you MONTHS and YEARS to learn how to engrave by hand!)
and gives pointers on how to engrave with the new machine (You will
do a better job by going slowly at first.).
young man operating an Eaton and Glover engraving machine, circa
1901. Photo courtesy of Rick Davies.
Schimmel founded New Hermes in 1938 and began manufacturing portable
engraving machines in the U.S. because there were none available.
He also served as the first salesman, operating out of the office
on 42nd Street in New York, photo circa 1983.
New Century machine had the capability of engraving inside rings, in spoon
bowls, in the bottom of deep dishes and in all kinds of places that would
be difficult for a hand engraver to work. Like the Francis machine, the
New Century was also promoted as an invaluable tool for both jewelers
and undertakers. The practice of engraving coffin plates was much more
common at the turn of the century (around 1900 that is), when the Francis
and New Century machines were in their prime. Both machines could be used
to greatly speed up the process of engraving plates for the coffins that
carried the areas recently departed. The New Centurys users
manual contained an entire section on the engraving of coffin plates,
including an explanation of how to use the coffin plate holder that came
with the machine.
Eaton & Glover machine can be called a manual engraving machine
but it's not really based on the pantograph principle. Instead it utilizes
a gimbals mechanism with other mechanical linkages to reproduce
the design on the photo engraved zinc master copy type.
& Glover helpfully included detailed descriptions in its manuals not
only on how to set up, test, practice with and use the New Century, but
it included sections on how to engrave and shade with various typefaces,
how to hold pieces, and how to use the companys patented linograph
type, which entwined letters to form monograms. The makers of the New
Century engraver promised benefits such as ease of use, consistency of
engraving, and most of all, savings in money and time if the user bought
the pantograph. Moreover, it warned ominously, if you dont have
the ability to do this kind of work, your customers will just go down
the street to your competitor, and you can bet he will be able to do it
for them. With that kind of incentive, who could afford not to buy one
of the early machines?
Industrial Machines & Espionage
the early 1900s, the industrial revolution was changing the way the world
worked, and engraving and pantographs advanced as well. New companies
were being created to sell new types of pantographs, and this revolution
took place mostly in Europe. The European machines differed significantly
from the Francis and Eaton & Glover machines popular in the U.S. and
centuries, the pantograph had been mostly used for two-dimensional or
flat purposes, meaning the tracer and cutter traveled in a
basically flat, two-dimensional plane. But the European machines changed
all that. Known as heavy-duty industrial engraving machines,
they were literally heavy, weighing over 1000 lbs. The industrial machines
were used mostly for large-scale applications, such as making molds for
vulcanized tires, shoes, silverware, belt buckles, dials, cans, extrusion
and coining dies.
Lord's Prayer was engraved on the point of a pin in 1935 using a
Flamm (left) (who also opened the first regional branch office) and
Maury Kaufman (who later became the National Accounts Manager) were
members of the original New Hermes sales force which began in 1945-46.
heavy-duty machines were capable of enlarging a piece in a fixed ratio (usually
2:1 or 8:1). Users were usually working off a hand-carved wooden model or
cast, which was much smaller than the final piece needed to be. In order
to get the mold to its proper final size, the engraver would have to first
enlarge his hand-carved piece using the pantograph. Then, hed enlarge
the new, larger piece, following with an enlargement of that piece. This
process would continue until the desired size of a piece was achieved. (Quite
a difference from typing in the proper size you want a piece to be and clicking
was a leader in creating large industrial pantographs, and several companies
flourished there. Friedrich Deckel of Munich, Germany, whose machines were
so well-built and precise that they are still in use today, was known as
the oldest German manufacturer of industrial pantographs. Another German
company, Kulhmann, was similarly well-known for producing quality machines
that were a must for heavy-duty industrial applications. Kuhlmanns
started out as a watchmakers shop in the German town of Wilhelmshaven
in the late 1800s and converted to a precision mechanical shop in 1888 (working
mostly for the German Navy). Kuhlmanns first production of engraving
machines began in 1905.
industrial machines were not only produced in Germany. British companies
Alexander, Taylor Hobson and Newing-Hall produced them too, and these machines
were well-known for their rigidity and high precision. Only one American
company, Gorton, out of Racine, WI, became a major player in the heavy-duty
pantograph business. Gorton machines were so precise that one was once used
to engrave The Lords Prayer on the point of pin! Stop for a minute
and think about what a fine piece of work that is: more than 50 words engraved
on the end of a .005" diameter wire (about twice the thickness of a
human hair). The work was so fine that the temperature in the room had to
be controlled meticulously; the heat from one light bulb shining on the
engraving surface would expand the pantograph enough to obliterate the engraving.
(To learn more about this amazing piece of work, see The Complete
Lords Prayer Engraved on the Point of a Pin in the September/October
1975 issue of .)
course, the early 1900s saw more change than the invention of industrial
pantographs and the industrial revolution. World War I erupted in 1914.
At the time, shell casings were spun from brass on a metal lathe, one at
a time, by hand. As you can imagine, it was a slow process and artillery
shells for America and its allies were desperately needed. Someone along
the line had a brilliant idea: why not link several arms together with a
mechanical arm to do several cuttings at once? One worker could then produce
12 shell casings in the time it previously took to produce one. The U.S.
Navy agreed this was a very good idea indeed and quickly adapted the 3-D
pantograph for use in arsenals and for the production of parts for ships.
This method spread quickly to aid in the construction of trains and trolleys.
World Wars touched every part of the world, and the engraving industry was
not left out. Heavy-duty pantograph manufacturers Deckel (German) and Alexander
(British) became embroiled in controversy when the First World War began.
Legend has it that when the war broke out, the British company, Alexander,
had a distributor selling its machines in Munich, Germany. With the onset
of the War, the countries became enemies and it was neither legal nor patriotic
to import British pantographs into Germany. So, the Germans appropriated
(some might even say ripped off!) the Alexander machine design
and began selling it under the Deckel name.
companies continued to produce the pantographs, and of course, Deckel was
not about to stop selling its copies of Alexanders machines once the
War ended in 1918. Indeed, Deckel continued developing and refining their
pantographs and became one of the (if not the) biggest names in Europe selling
heavy-duty industrial engravers. Then, in 1939, the Second World War began.
When that war was over in 1945, Alexander returned the favor of the First
World War by copying Deckels patented machines and selling them itself!
New Hermes GTX Super series machines served as the backbone of the
New Hermes line for many years starting in 1959. They were designed
to accommodate odd-shaped, cylindrical and flat objects from very
small to relatively large.
New Hermes GTX-3 Universal (circa 1968) much like the GTX-L Super,
only larger, was designed to accommodate large items like a 15"
diameter Revere bowl.
Taking the World by Storm: New Hermes
advancement of the pantograph was not only taking place in Europe. While
the major industrial machine manufacturers were gaining speed and refining
their machines, two German immigrants were about to affect the lives of
engravers everywhere by creating a machine that any unskilled operator
centuries, virtually all personalization on jewelry, watches, household
items and other small objects was performed by hand engravers. Hand engraving
was a highly skilled profession, taking years to learn and perfect. Traditionally,
hand engravers had closely guarded their art, revealing techniques and
methods to apprentices only after several years of work. Hand engraving,
while beautiful, was a very slow, painstaking process, and it also required
that the item to be engraved was engravable alloys
such as sterling silver, 14K gold, etc. Turn-of-the century manufacturers
Francis and Eaton & Glover started the personalization ball rolling
but their machines were not exactly user friendly and they faded into
oblivion before the evolution of the personalization mass market that
developed in the post WWII years
Norbert Schimmel and Werner Dannheisser. Schimmel fled Nazi persecution,
coming to the United States with his wife in 1938. In Germany, Schimmel
had gained mechanical experience and worked in the shoe machine business.
When he arrived in the U.S., he met Gene Kapp, another German immigrant,
who owned a European machine that was designed to engrave fountain pens.
Kapp approached Schimmel with the idea to manufacture and sell a similar
machine in the United States, which was then just emerging from the Great
took time to research the engraving market and found that there werent
any similar lightweight machines available in the U.S. The two formed
a partnership in 1938 and created the New Hermes Corporation, choosing
the name New Hermes because their first choice, Hermes
(the ancient Greek God of commerce and industry), was already taken by
a well known typewriter manufacturer.
left the company after about a year, and he sold his shares to Schimmel.
Times were very tough then and reportedly, when Schimmel needed some capital
to sustain his new venture, he turned to another recent German immigrant,
Werner Dannheisser. The two men contracted with Helmuth Waldorf to produce
their first engraving machine, the Model G. This early machine was lightweight
and portable, and it operated on a fixed 5:1 pantograph ratio. Most important,
it was easy to operate. Schimmel believed that for the engraving industry
to flourish, and for New Hermes to sell its products, engraving had to
leave the arena of a few elite engravers and become a trade that any unskilled
operator could master. They achieved this goal with the early New Hermes
machines, and after establishing an office in New York, the pair began
selling in earnest. Schimmel took over the sales aspect of the business
while Dannheisser handled the finances.
spread about the New Hermes machines, and the company landed its first
big sale with a contract to sell 250 machines to the Woolworth dime-store
chain. As part of the deal, Schimmel agreed to travel to the various Woolworth
stores and teach employees to use the new machine. New Hermes began to
acquire other accounts, and as time passed, they worked to modify and
improve their pantographs. Before long, New Hermes machines were available
with special adapters for engraving inside rings, flatware and pens, and
for holding jewelry. They also created a machine that actually had two
separate pantographs so as to be able to engrave at two different ratios.
Hermes was really starting to gain steam when, in December of 1941, the
United States entered World War II. Dannheisser was drafted into the Army,
and across the country the production of all non-essential items stopped
to allow resources to be applied toward the war effort. The materials
and need for engraving ground to a halt a circumstance that might
have killed off a lesser company. Since jewelry was considered a luxury
and most industrial materials were rationed according to a war department
priority scheme, Woolworths stopped selling most jewelry and then
returned all of their leased pantographs to New Hermes.
A New Hermes
Glass Engraving machine, circa 1974, allowed the user to engrave
New Hermes' Mini-Grav (circa 1986) was a new concept in niche machines.
Weighing less than 5 lbs., it was used for on-site or promotional
engraving of small jewelry and gift items.
of assembled ITM New Hermes pantographs at the Gravograph facility
in La Chapelle St. Luc, France in 1986.
Schimmel was not deterred by the war, and he applied himself toward finding
something to do that would benefit both the war effort and his company.
He found his answer in childrens identification tags. The New York
City Board of Education, fearing the city might be the target of a German
bombing, decided to have dog tags made for all children enrolled in the
citys schools. Metal was scarce, so the government mandated the
tags be made of plastic. The Bakelite Corporation of American received
a contract to make 3.5 million phenolic ID tags, and they commissioned
a newly-created New Hermes subsidiary, Hermes Engravers, to engrave them.
easily-operated machine turned out to be very beneficial in those dog-tag
days. Hermes Engravers rented space at Broadway and 12th Street and set
up hundreds of engraving machines, quickly hiring and training people
to use the machines and engrave the tags. The job lasted throughout the
war years as lost tags had to be replaced and children entering school
needed new tags.
Hermes Engravers was humming along, engraving ID tags as well as other,
war-related jobs (they engraved, for example, Purple Hearts for the Quartermaster
Corps in Philadelphia), the production of New Hermes engraving machines
had halted almost completely. In 1946, once the war was over, New Hermes
had to start over again to find and build a market for its engraving machines.
Schimmel and Dannheisser again turned to the jewelry industry.
engravers were aging, and as they died, jewelers were increasingly turning
to New Hermes machines for their engraving needs. But most jewelers had
still never heard of New Hermes or its highly versatile machines.
more, some of the jewelers who catered to the carriage trade actually
scoffed at machine engraving. To spread the word more effectively, the
company decided to create a sales force, beginning with salesman Paul
Kahn. As the sales division grew, word spread about the New Hermes pantographs
and what they could do for engraving. The salesmen were helped by a breakthrough
in New Hermes technology in 1947, when a better way of engraving
was created: the scratch cut, later known as diamond drag engraving. Company
legend has it that the method was discovered when a New Hermes salesman
in the New York office forgot to turn on the rotating cutter motor during
his demonstration, and the Pennsylvania jeweler who saw the resulting,
brilliant scratch created by the broken carbide cutters exclaimed Thats
the look I want! The non-rotating diamond-graver was born shortly
while few people realized it at the time, the advent of the diamond graver
coincided with the unfolding of the postwar mass market for costume jewelry.
Not only were more common folks able to afford mass-produced,
mass marketed jewelry, the nature of the merchandise changed, from precious
metal alloys to various plated base metals. This began to put the squeeze
on hand engravers who had difficulty hand engraving the hard and/or chewy
metals used in inexpensive jewelry.
Hermes worked to constantly improve its products and supply customers
with the materials they needed. The company took a step forward in 1947
with the creation of Hermes Plastics (the subsidiary that would later
revolutionize the engraving industry with the first flexible engraving
stock, known as Gravoply, in 1963). The year 1948 saw the creation of
variable-ratio pantographs. In the 1950s the first really practical inside
ring engraver, the model RV, was introduced, and the company struck a
deal with Frenchman Marcel Vitoux to manufacture parts of the New Hermes
machines in France. Together, New Hermes and Vitoux, created what is today
known as Gravograph-New Hermes.
this time, New Hermes had a foot in the then miniscule trophy and industrial
engraving markets and was expanding into signage too. Before long, New
Hermes was fulfilling engraving needs everywhere, and it grew to be, for
all intents and purposes, the only big name in engraving machines in the
U.S. The company was huge, primarily because Schimmel understood the United
States engraving industry like few others. Not only did he understand
it, he backed up his products with more marketing muscle than the industry
had ever seen. Schimmel recognized the potential for the personalization
market and he capitalized on it, shrewdly expanding into markets that
didnt even realize they needed engraving machines until the New
Hermes salesmen told them so.
Much of the credit for New Hermes success goes to its people. At
one point about 1980, New Hermes and its European affiliate, Gravograph,
had over 200 dedicated employees. And whereas most of the competition
had little or no sales force, New Hermes had dozens of reps covering every
inch of the U.S. and Canada, plus at least one dealer in every major foreign
country. Schimmel spent big on advertising and marketing and it paid off
we mentioned previously, the heavy-duty engraving machines were quite
popular in Europe, but the only American-made machine of the sort was
made by Gorton. At the same time, New Hermes was taking North America
by storm with their small, lightweight machines that were perfect for
personalizing trophies, jewelry and signage. Some say that New Hermes
was so big that for every large, industrial machine sold by a company
like Gorton or Deckel, New Hermes sold 100 pantographs. Why did the big
machines remain largely in Europe while the smaller machines took off
in the United States?
combination of factors was the cause. For one thing, the United States
has always been much more focused on the individual and on individual
accomplishments, which naturally lends itself toward the smaller personalization
markets such as trophies, name tags and desk plates. While this market
has grown in recent years in Europe, it never was and still is not the
booming market it is in the U.S. Another factor in the success of the
light pantograph in this country was New Hermes marketing strategy,
which brilliantly allowed it to sell more machines than anyone ever thought
Jullien, president of Gravograph in 1986.
mystery engraving machine photo was sent to us a number of years ago.
We don't know its name or origin. If you do, we'd love to hear from
Vitoux, the son of Marcel, became chairman of the board of Vitos Industries
(Gravograph) after his father retired.
Davis, the publisher of EJ, was one of those New Hermes salesmen.
He started with the company in 1965, and explains the genius behind New
Hermes penetration into all kinds of markets.
happened a hundred different times, says Davis. Id go
into a town and call on the local jeweler. The guy would say, Gee,
Ive had this machine for 20 years and I hardly ever order anything.
Im the only jeweler in town. How do you make a living selling these
machines? Then Id go down the street to the trophy dealer,
and it was the same thing. Gee Mike, I have the only trophy shop
in town and bought my machine(s) some time ago. I really dont order
very much from you. How do you make a living? Then Id go over
to the optometrist. They had a New Hermes machine for engraving the temple
stem on eyeglasses, and I sold it to them. How do you make a living?
theyd say. Then on to the GM plant, who needed tags for their production
equipment. Boy, theyd say. There arent any more plants
like this for hundreds of miles around. How do you make a living here?
And on Id go to the hospital, the military base, the local mom and
pop trophy shop . . . you get the picture.
many people believed that the engraving market was limited to engravers
and trophy shops, and that just wasnt true. Thats where New
Hermes strategy really was genius. For every obvious engraving market
that you can see, there are many, many others that you dont see.
And New Hermes sold to them all: museums, hotels, nursing homes, restaurants,
race tracks, wineries, square dancers you name it.
time a new market showed promise, New Hermes either developed or packaged
equipment to tap into it. As plastics engraving came into vogue, New Hermes
introduced a whole series of flatbed machines well suited for badges,
nameplates and signs. They also had special machines designed for engraving
such items as bowling balls, tennis rackets, bicycles, skis, eye glasses
their core market, the jewelers and later the trophy shops, New Hermes
introduced the GTX-Super in 1959, a machine which could engrave practically
anything from a tiny ankle bracelet to a tankard, tray or award plaque.
The GTX Universal, introduced in 1968, would do everything the GTX-Super
would do, plus 22'' wide trays and 15" bowls.
Hermes was not, of course, completely without competition. Other pantograph
manufacturers tried to get into the game, with limited success. H.P. Preis,
out of Hillside, NJ, produced a medium-duty machine, capable of doing
both light and heavy work. Scripta Machine Tool Corporation (a French
company), with an office in Fairfield, NJ, produced industrial machines
that were heavier than the New Hermes pantographs, but were not as high-end
as the Deckel and Gorton machines. Scripta marketed their pantographs
to people who couldnt spend the money or didnt need something
as large as the heavy duty machines.
companies that threw their hat into the pantograph ring included Mico,
located in Cambridge, MA, and Green Instrument, in Boston, MA. The Scott
Machine Development Corporation, out of Walton, NY, competed with New
Hermes in the area of plastic nameplates, badges and signage. And Vigor,
a European company, worked the jewelry field. Even the Japanese got into
the game at one point with their Kantograph line, which was basically
a copy of the New Hermes equipment sold in Europe and Asia. None of the
pantograph-producing competition understood the mass market like New Hermes,
and none flourished with as much success as did New Hermes in its pantograph-selling
of the reason the competition floundered was that by the time they got
rolling, New Hermes already had such name recognition and had permeated
so many markets that the others simply could not compete. But the other
companies also didnt have New Hermes marketing savvy. The
heavy-duty machine manufacturers, for example, would make pantographs
to order for each customer, changing the basic design to fit each clients
needs. Typically they catered to industrial companies which had a very
specific need to manufacture parts. While this was a great strategy for
industrial customers, it was not a very practical way to earn money and
grow as a company. This methodology was certainly not suited to the burgeoning
post war personalization market.
Hermes did nothing of the sort when they sold machines. They offered customers
an array of models, and if the client didnt find what he was looking
for, he was out of luck. However, New Hermes machines were so versatile
that they could hold and engrave just about any piece of jewelry, trophy,
plaque, bowl or tray with little or no improvisation.
was, no doubt, an element of luck in New Hermes meteoric rise to
engraving market dominance during the post war years. The trophy market
remained tiny until the rise of participant sports. For example, after
the War, American Machine and Foundry (AMF) and Brunswick Corporation
began a competitive rivalry building blowing alleys literally in everyones
home town. Then it didnt take the bowling proprietors long to figure
out that the easiest way for themselves to prosper was to set up leagues
with competing teams. The logical outcome of all those competitions was
to hand out awards. New Hermes was standing by only too happy to supply
the equipment to engrave those awards
The Future Rolls In
marriage of the pantograph to the engraving industry took hundreds of
years, starting as a copying device and working its way to the heavy-duty
and lightweight machines that dominated the industry for most of the 20th
century. But although New Hermes became the undisputed leader in pantograph
production throughout the world, the company was about to come face-to-face
with some serious competition. By the 1970s, New Hermes had grown so large
and dominant that they didnt see the computer revolution that was
staring them in the face even when it started to steal their market
share. The computer revolution was coming . . . and New Hermes didnt
realize it until it was almost too late. Check out the next installment
of our R&I Industry Scrapbook Part 3 in March, when a little
hippie start-up in San Francisco began beating New Hermes at their own
game. It was a change that would alter the lives of engravers forevermore.
We would like to thank Herb Windolf for his invaluable contributions
to this article.