Collings Carriage Co. - 1880s -1920s Camden, New Jersey
Collings is better known as the building that housed the first home of the Victor Talking Machine Co. - later RCA-Victor - but Collings also made some early wooden and composite automobile bodies as well.
Collings built a new building at the corner of Front St. and Federal St. in
1915 that was designed by the famous Philadelphia architect Joshua C.
About 1894 Eldridge R. Johnson was opening a small machine shop in the rear of Collings Carriage Factory on Front Street above Market. In addition to his skill as an expert machinist, he also manifested a genius for invention. After studying the weaknesses of the then commonly used wire-stitching machines for book-binding, he devised and built a new machine which was quickly recognized as the best wire stitcher on the market. Mr. Johnson sold his patents in this machine and turned his attention to that business of which he made a wonderful success- the making and marketing of “talking machines”.
The first building to be used in the manufacture of the new device for the reproduction of the human voice was built in the spring of 1899 on Front Street. The business increased so rapidly that it was incorporated on October 5, 1901, as the Victor Talking Machine Company; and the little fox terrier listening to “His Master’s Voice’ has since become known in every household, and Victor record are now “heard round the world”.
From the time of the erection of the first building in 1899, the program of expansion of this company has gone forward to the extent that in 1928 there were 34 fireproof buildings with a floor space of approximately 57 acres. The average number of employees in the Camden plants numbers in normal times 8500, more than the population of many cities in the United States. Thus form a small beginning in the 1890s, and within a period of less than 35 years Mr. Johnson built up in Camden one of the largest industries of the country.
Early in January of 1927 Mr. Johnson sold his controlling interest in the Victor Talking Machine Company to a syndicate organized by Speyer & Company and J. & W. Seligman, New York bankers. At the time of the sale it was reported that Mr. Johnson received in round figures $28,000,000 dollars for his more than 240,000 shares of Victor Company stock
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