Treasure of the Month

“Such a library as ours would not only contain books and current periodicals,
but there would be…articles of historic, scientific, and artistic interest.”

~ Frank C. Patten, Head Librarian of Rosenberg Library, 1904 – 1934

The Library accepted its first museum piece shortly after it opened in 1904. Since then, thousands of rare and interesting objects from around the world have been added to the collection. Displayed in these pages are the Library’s “Treasures of the Month.”

January 2021 “Treasure of the Month”
Texas Nail and Wire Company
Souvenir nails from the first batch produced in Texas by Texas Nail & Wire Manufacturing Co. of Galveston.

Souvenir nails from the first batch produced in Texas by Texas Nail & Wire Manufacturing Co. of Galveston.

This month, Rosenberg Library will exhibit a souvenir box of the first nails produced in January 1928 by the Galveston-based manufacturing company Texas Nail and Wire. The nails will be displayed on the library’s second floor near the east entrance.

Chartered in November 1927, Texas Nail and Wire Company operated a state-of-the-art factory adjacent to the Galveston port. The sprawling plant was located along Harborside Drive between Piers 16 and 18, and the firm employed sixty (60) workers. Texas Nail and Wire was a subsidiary of Black Hardware (founded in 1910) and was managed by John L. Somers.

Informational insert included with the souvenir box of nails from Texas Nail & Wire Manufacturing Company, January 17, 1928.

Informational insert included with the souvenir box of nails from Texas Nail & Wire Manufacturing Company, January 17, 1928.

The fairy-tale dioramas were eventually placed in storage when the library was remodeled and a new children’s department opened on the first floor of the Moody Memorial wing in 1971. The 1975 death of beloved librarian Emma Lee prompted a group of library volunteers to embark on a project to restore one of the dioramas they had enjoyed so much as children. Margie Evans, Gloria Adriance, and Margaret Ritter cleaned, repaired, and refurbished the Goldilocks and the Three Bears diorama. It was displayed in the children’s department for others to enjoy as much as they had in their youth.

Between 1790 and 1810, various nail-making machines were introduced in the United States, and hand-forged nails were eventually replaced by machine-made types. Texas Nail and Wire produced nails using soft iron called “rod” made by Bethlehem Steel Company and shipped from Pennsylvania to Galveston. The plant was equipped with sixty (60) nail-making machines, each of which could produce nails of various shapes and sizes. On average, each machine could generate several hundred nails per minute. In addition to nails, Texas Nail and Wire produced iron spikes for industrial use as well barbed wire for fencing.

Every week, several tons of nails were produced in Galveston. It was the only manufacturing plant of its type in the region, with the closest similar factory located approximately seven (700) hundred miles away in Birmingham, AL.

In 1945, the Illinois-based Dickson Weatherproof Nail Company assumed ownership of Texas Nail and Wire. Dickson continued to produce nails in Galveston until its closure during the 1970s. The plant was razed in 1975.

A portion of the Texas Nail and Wire Company factory can be seen on the right side of this ca. 1930 photo of Harborside Drive (image courtesy of Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library).

A portion of the Texas Nail and Wire Company factory can be seen on the right side of this ca. 1930 photo of Harborside Drive (image courtesy of Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library).

The Treasure of the Month is located on the Library’s historic second floor near the East Entrance. It can be viewed during regular library hours, 9:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, please contact the Museum Office at (409) 763 – 8854 ext. 125.