Door Chime History - Edwards

Edwards and Company Inc, Norwalk Connecticut and Montreal Canada

Founded in 1872 by Robert S. Edwards and David Rousseau

Finding solid info on the history of Edwards chime business has proven elusive, which is a bit surprising as that company was a significant player in the industry. There is clear evidence that they had a well developed musical door chime product as early as 1934. Specifically the evidence that I have is a sales sheet dating from March 1935, noted as a replacement page for an earlier version dating from April 1934. The products depicted are two similar models of 2-note longbell chimes, one with a very deluxe cast brass cover. These products are important as they are to my knowledge the earliest production long bell chimes… clearly preceding any made by Rittenhouse and predating even the formation of Nutone. In addition, there is a sales sheet depicting a simple low cost 1- and 2- note bar chimes, dated August 1937, noted as replacing a page dated September 1936. This is significant as it predates patents filed by Rittenhouse for similar products, and probably undermines any claim by Nutone to have “invented” low cost chimes.

By my observations, Edwards largely abandoned the fancy chime business in roughly 1960, but carried on in a big way but the security products market. Edwards and Company is known today as Edwards Signaling and Security Systems, maker of commercial security components, now a division of General Electric. There are still a few mundane doorbells in their catalog.

Here a few noteworthy dates for the company, found at their website:

1872- Edwards and Company was founded by Robert Edwards & David Rousseau to explore the new phenomenon of "Electricity" and to manufacture, sell and install battery-operated gas-fixture igniters. Among the company's first customers, a New York City church where sextons previously had climbed a 100-foot ladder to light gas fixtures located high above the pews.

1873 Rousseau withdrew from the partnership and his place was taken by Adam Lungen. They invented and developed an electric doorbell and a burglar alarm.

1880- Edwards Company left the basement of the Lungen family's jewelry store, moved into a three-story plant, and began manufacturing wooden conduits and housings for burglar alarms.

1881- Robert Edwards obtained his first patent for an electric bell. Other patents quickly followed: a drop-type annunciator (1882); an electric gas burner lighter for push-button operation (1883); and an electric door opener (1884).

1884- Edwards displayed its wares at the first electrical show in the United States. Held in Philadelphia, it was called the "Electrical Exhibit, National Conference of Electricians."

1886- Along with burglar alarms and fixture igniters, the Edwards catalog listed for the first time electrically wound clocks, program systems, and coils.

1950- New Edwards plant in Canada opened at Owen Sound, Ontario.

Today. . . With headquarters in Cheshire, CT, manufacturing and distribution locations in Pittsfield, ME and Owen Sound, Ontario, and Sales and Service locations around the world, it seems a long way back to the basement of Lungen's jewelry store. Yet, many of the different products that Edwards makes today, are direct descendants of the gas fixture igniters, electric bells and program systems that went into the design and construction of structures over one hundred years ago.

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