Friday, February 24, 2012

Historic Capewell Triumphs Recalled As Connecticut Looks Back After Learning Delta Mustad News of Nailmaker's Departure

Several reports from the Hartford area today expressed sadness at the news that Capewell Horse Nails will now be made abroad, following yesterday's announced by Delta Mustad. 

The Hartford Courant had an article featuring Stanley Wojnilo, the company's veteran nailmaker. On Twitter, the Connecticut and Hartford Historical Societies announced the news.

Things few people know: before the existence of today's Farrier Industry Association of salesmen in the hoofcare industry, there was the Order of Nutmegs. When there were horseshoer conventions, the Nutmegs would have big banquets and just generally celebrate in grand style.

Why were they called "Nutmegs"? A "nutmeg" was a name for a pedlar without many scruples. They'd travel around with a wagon-load of goods back in the days before mail order or malls. One of thins they sold was the spice, nutmeg. But it might not be a nutmeg you were buying--it might be a knot of wood. They looked alike.

Among those Nutmegs toasting the horseshoers (and each other) at conventions in the old days were Capewell salesmen who called Connecticut (known as "the nutmeg state") home. Capewell had an army of salesmen on the road visiting hardware stores and blacksmith and horseshoer supply houses. A Capewell salesman was synonymous with the successful tradesman.

Capewell Factory
For many years, the Capewell factory in downtown Hartford was derelict. It was once called "one of the great cathedrals of American industry". Capewell was one of the first US companies to ever offer daycare for the children of women who worked in the factory. I'm not sure when this photo was taken; the last time I tried to find the factory, I couldn't. Maybe I was lost, or maybe it is gone. Delta Mustad bought the Capewell horse nail business, not the building, in 1985. Photo by Nivek29

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