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Alfred B. Jenkins

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Alfred B. Jenkins (1848-1917) of Jenkins Brothers


1917 Obituary[1]

"Death of Alfred B. Jenkins. A notable figure in the heating trade and a man who had a prominent part in the development of the steam fitting industry in this country passed away when Alfred B. Jenkins, president of Jenkins Bros., New York. died December 29, at his home in LleweJJyn Park, West Orange, N.J. He had been in failing health for some time, the immediate cause of death being hardening of the arteries.

Mr. Jenkins was 68 years old. He was a son of Nathaniel and Mary Tucker Jenkins, and was born in Boston, Mass., in 1848. The business in which Alfred B. Jenkins was so vitally interested for up-wards of forty years was founded by his father, Nathaniel Jenkins, who in 1864 first interested himself in the invention of water faucets. and opened a place of business at 52 Sudbury Street, Boston. Nathaniel Jenkins had conceived the idea of having his faucets fitted with renewable packings of rubber. To make these faucets satisfactory to his customers and users, he soon found that it would be necessary to have the packings made of a material which would stand hot water service. Compositions which would withstand any degree of heat were then unknown, and rubber manufacturers to whom he applied informed him that they could not be had. As he could not purchase, he decided to manufacture. He went to the public library, and made a study of rubber and methods , of mixing compounds, and installed in one of the lofts at 52 Sudbury Street a rubber vulcanizer and other necessary apparatus. After several years of experimenting, he invented a rubber compound which would not only stand hot water, but also steam. He also invented a steam valve, and obtained a U. S. patent thereon in 1866, as well as several medals and diplomas from the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Institute. The faucets then had little attention as all his efforts were now devoted to the production of a valve for steam service, and the manufacture of packing suitable for steam and hot water joints.

During 1866 and 1867, several additional U.S. patents were granted him for inventions or improvements in valves and packing, and, after various types had been tried, he invented and in October 1868, obtained a patent on the type of valve which is now known all over the world as the Jenkins valve. The corner stone having been laid, the next step was the introduction of the goods. With very little capital and an entirely new field of business and with very few acquaintances in the trade. it is not surprising that slow progress was made at the start.

In 1868 Charles Jenkins was taken into partnership with his father, and so continued until the death of Nathaniel Jenkins in 1872, when, to continue the business, his two sons Charles and Alfred B. Jenkins formed a co-partnership under the firm name of Jenkins Bros. Their store was then located at 104 Sudbury Street, Boston, and it was there that Alfred B. Jenkins first commenced to sell valves. It was an uphill fight from the start as the valves were a novelty to the trade, and it had to be demonstrated that the discs would successfully withstand steam. Having early decided that the valves should be of superior quality, and adopting a strong guarantee of satisfaction to the user, with the persistent efforts of Alfred B. Jenkins, who did most of the traveling and selling at that time, it was not long before the valves reached the indorsement of users, and their sale increased.

On May 1. 1880, their first branch store was opened in New York; in 1885 a branch store was opened in Philadelphia; and in 1886 a branch was opened in Chicago. The partnership existing between Charles and Alfred B. Jenkins was terminated in 1896, when Alfred B. Jenkins became sole owner of the business of Jenkins Bros., and continued to trade under the old established name.

To take care of the Canadian business it was deemed advisable to have a factory in Canada, and in 1906 Jenkins Bros., Limited, was incorporated under the laws of the Dominion of Canada, and a modern factory erected in Montreal. A number of the employees of Jenkins Bros. were given the privilege of subscribing to the capital stock of the new company, and the balance retained by Alfred B. Jenkins.

In the year 1907 the business of Jenkins Bros. in the United States was incorporated under the same title. A portion of the stock was distributed among his employees, while Mr. Jenkins remained at the head as president. and so continued up to the time of his death. He is survived by his widow and one daughter, Mrs. Farnham Yardley.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Heating and Ventilating Magazine of 1917 (pp 52-53)