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:
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.
Rousseau withdrew from the partnership and his place was taken by
Adam Lungen. They invented and developed an electric doorbell and
a burglar alarm.
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.
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).
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."
Along with burglar alarms and fixture igniters, the Edwards catalog
listed for the first time electrically wound clocks, program systems,
New Edwards plant in Canada opened at Owen Sound, Ontario.
. . 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