Winchester’s Laundry Machines, Ice Skates, and Flashlights
Today, the name Winchester is almost synonymous with firearms. However, Winchester’s company history points to a large array of products. When you visit the Cody Firearms Museum, this fact becomes apparent when you step into the Gold Reef Hardware store. The hardware store of yesterday was one of the most common places to purchase firearms. Records indicate gun after gun being shipped to various local hardware stores for purchase.
These hardware stores also provided the location for the release of a variety of machine-made products, many of which were produced by firearms manufacturers. The hardware store in the Cody Firearms Museum carries many products, most of which were made by Winchester. These products range from axes to wrenches, to razors, and yes, even roller skates—all carrying the Winchester name. All of these products were made by using new advances in machine technology.
The McCracken Research Library holds many of Winchester’s patents, and the variety is astounding. There are many firearms patents, but there are also patents for roller skates, laundry machines, and flashlights. The patents also highlight a variety of developments in the machine design that enabled Winchester to create a larger line of products and better firearms.
Winchester advertised these products by using their legacy of firearms manufacturing. Advertisements touted the strength of their steel and durable products. One advertisement encouraged people to buy Winchester cutlery and tools, stating, “Bringing you the gun maker’s past mastership in making products which demand super qualities of steel.”
All of this information serves to highlight the ingenuity and entrepreneurial vision of these gun makers. These individuals went beyond the field of firearms manufacturing to create an expansive array of products. By making use of the materials and tools already on hand, they were able to advance the cause of machine-made products, helping to create the proliferation of machine-made goods seen in the world today.