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SMART’S from James Smart Manufacturing. The following is General information found at various sources that seem to support each other. At least until more is known. As with all Cast Iron and foundries we would appreciate any further supporting information, copies of documentation, etc.
It appears the company was first started as a foundry under the name of the Brockville Novelty Works (Ontario, Canada). It was formed in 1854–1856 by James Smart shortly after he emigrated from Scotland.
Around 1880 John Mcleod Gill and Robert Gill joined the business.
In 1881 they incorporated as James Smart Manufacturing Co. The company incorporated while taking on new partners.
There is interesting reading regarding this corporate history and hints of hostile takeover using third party stock purchase to gain the majority of shares.
Smart left or was eliminated from the business sometime after 1886.
Smart’s nephew operated and adjacent foundry Smart & Shepard. Smart and Shepard was taken over in 1886 right around the same time James Smart MFG was taken over by the Gills.
Over the next few decades other smaller companies were purchased and combined with the parent company.
Smarts bought Gardiner Tool Company in 1899. Gardiner Tool used the Diamond G Trademark.
One of several Diamond G logos used by Gardiner Tool Co.
A possible origin of the Diamond G showing up on Smart’s Manufacturing after 1899?
Some Cast Iron marked Smarts also bear a Diamond G. Can we date James Smart MFG pieces including the Diamond G all being from after 1899?
Reader: Doug Grant commented 9/9/2017
Diamond G’ logo is the creation of the GILL family (John M. Gill, president,who purchased controlling shares in the Smart’s Foundry company and forced James Smart out of the company. This is well-known in Brockville historical circles.
(We are hoping Doug Grant can expand on this and provide some verifiable documentation we can add here).
In 1912 the James Smart Manufacturing Company merged into Canada Foundries & Forgings LTD. It continued to operate under its original name.
Various on-line searches indicates the foundry under the Smart name closed in 1965, others indicate it was 1967. It would make sense that the actual foundry work terminated in 1965, and perhaps it took 2 years to dissolve the company and satisfy all the legal matters associated with closing that business? That might help explain the disparity found in different reference locations? But again there is no concrete evidence we could find.
The company is probably best known for its cast iron Well, and Cistern Pumps, specializing in Household as well as Industrial Hardware. They sold their products countrywide as well as establishing a large export market. This company cast iron, and steel, into a variety of goods for sale, Stoves, Pots, Pans, Shovels, Tools, Metal frames for desks, and more. Their axes in particular were in great demand because of their quality.
An example of their tool line is the solid-chisel foot powered mortise. That mortise has surviving vintage pieces that can still be found. They carry the name of Smart & Shepherd. Smart & Shepherd was a independent foundry operated by James Smart’s nephew. It was taken over too in 1886.
Their cast Christmas tree stands were popular and still sought after. While Smart’s cast iron is perhaps not as collectible in the USA, it is still fairly collectible in Canada.
We wish to thank Jeremy for sharing the above image with us. It is so nice to see a piece of cast iron surviving in such great shape. We love the comment he sent is with his info. “I believe this pan was used by my Great Grandma, then my Grandma. After my grandma passed away my mom gave me this frying pan, knowing I wanted one. I never knew the significance of the history of this pan until now.”
We love these personal stories knowing a piece of cast iron holds an even greater value when passed generation to generation.
Paul Graham sent along a note with the photos of his #7 skillet. Quote ” I found this at the White Rock British Columbia, Salvation Army Thrift Store. After some elbow grease and re-seasoning this skillet is to be the “Iron” part of a 6th Anniversary present.”
TheDutchOvenCook staff thought this was a great story, as well as a very fine looking skillet. Not only should it provide many more years of service with a personal story. It is a great piece of Canadian history as well.
Paul Graham later sent us this photo. As part of a 6th anniversary present (Iron & Sugar) Paul gifted the Skillet with an Apple pie. We love this story. We sent Paul a note to please “gift” the apple pie recipe to us so we can share that with the readers.
Speaking of recipes, follow this link to our master recipe index. Lots to try out in Cast Iron.
We would appreciate any additional photos of some confirmed pieces including any types of markings you are willing to share. Also any additional information on the company that people might find unusual or interesting. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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