History of the Columbus Washboard Company

The history of the Columbus Washboard Company started in 1895 when Frederic Martin Sr. started building washboards in his backyard for resale. These washboards were handmade and had a limited market. While no sales information is available, it has been estimated that fewer than 1,000 washboards were produced and sold in any of the first 30 years of operations.

The next big step was in 1925 when Frederic Martin Jr. purchased the assets of the Company from his father. The assets purchased were a few saws, a metal crimping machine, the patent and trade mark for the "Bear Easy" washboard and whatever goodwill there might be. Frederic Martin Jr. and his wife, Margaret Martin were involved in the business of the Columbus Washboard Company from the date of purchase in 1925 until their deaths in late 1987 and early 1988 respectively. During the first year of recorded sales (1926), they produced and sold 1,332 washboards. During the first five years the highest year of sales was 1931, when sales were 20,436 washboards. In 1941 sales volume rose to 1,287,757 washboards and remained in the range of 1,000.000 washboards a year until well after the end of the second world war. For their second 30 years of operations, 1926 to 1955, total washboards produced and sold exceeded 15,000,000. From their start in 1926 until their deaths, Frederic and Margaret Martin produced and sold over 23,000,000 washboards. From 1931 to 1938, twenty-two other washboard names were introduced to the market place. Of these only five survived into the 1980's. These brands, which are all trademarked, are Dubl Handi, Maid-Rite Silver, Maid-Rite Brass, Sunnyland, and Crystal Cascade. Fortunately most of the original dies and designs have been maintained by the Company.

By the late 1960's the Columbus Washboard Company was the only original washboard manufacturer in the United States. In 1999 when the owners of the company, Mike and Patricia Taylor, were contemplating closing the company's doors, George K. Richards, president of a Columbus based wholesale pharmaceutical company, formed a partnership with friends and family and purchased the business. To reduce costs and expedite production, the company was moved to Logan, Ohio. Where it reamins till today. They offer tours of their facility. Which is how I acquired some of these photos.

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