Wednesday, September 29, 2010

J. B. Hammond

This picture was taken in 1910, and shows J. B. Hammond, pictured with one of his famous typewriters. The Hammond was one of the most popular typewriters of the early 1900's, and Hammond became a very wealthy and successful man. Unlike most of the factory owners of the day, Mr. Hammond had a habit of being very generous with his employees. He would give them a quarterly dividend, based on the profitability of the company. He would give them a turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas. He would also give them reasonable vacation time. These things were unheard of at the time, and his family accused him of being "insane" and squandering the families' (actually His) fortune. They brought their concerns to the authorities in 1907, and had him committed to an insane asylum. He was locked up for almost a year, and then finally when his case was investigated, it was determined that he was perfectly sane, and he was released. When he returned to his factory, the employees held a huge celebration. 


  1. What an interesting story. I had never heard any of this before now, so I did a little googling. One of the most ironic lines came from his brother's sworn testimony in trying to institutionalize him for giving away money, "He (James B. Hammond) is subject to delusions of all kinds, and particularly that he is pursued by detectives and that there are schemes under foot of depriving him of his property and liberty."

    I wonder where he got that idea?

  2. Good Grief! I had never heard of this before. I'm going to try and find out more about J. B. Hammond, how the rest of his life went.

    My husband and I started a small business, he was the brains and I was the steady hand. He insisted that we treat our employees and our customers very well -- because it was the right thing to do. And so very well that competition would have a hard time taking any business, or employees, away from us.

    Thirty years later, the business has survived the current economic times with loyal employees and customers still intact.

  3. I love that Hammond got out of the insane asylum. I wonder how "family" relations went after that period in his life? Guess I'd best do some research. :)

    @Rebecca2: Wonderful story of survival by doing right!

  4. He sounds like Mr. Fezziwig. I'm glad is "scroogy" family lost the battle.

  5. I think he would stand a chance of being judged insane again today by many greedy Boards of Directors.

    I relly expected to discover he was somehow related to the Hammond organ inventor. Apparently not.

  6. Good golly. Is there a movie about Hammond? If he was thought to be insane what must Carnegie be classified?

  7. Lucky for him this was before the days of electroshock therapies for insane asylum patients...


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