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merchant box company buildings
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THE MERCHANT BOX COMPANY

IN 1877, WHAT EVENTUALLY BECAME KNOWN AS THE MERCHANT BOX COMPANY WAS BEGUN, WHEN LEWIS H. MERCHANT (THE YOUNGEST BROTHER OF WM. T. MERCHANT) OPENED A BOX AND COOPERAGE BUSINESS ON THE SHUTE & MERCHANT WHARVES. AT THAT TIME IT WAS KNOWN AS LEWIS H. MERCHANT BOX MANUFACTURER, AND MOST LIKELY THE COMPANY MADE ALL THE BOXES AND BUTTS USED BY SHUTE & MERCHANT WHILE IT WAS IN BUSINESS. THE BUSINESS GREW SO LARGE IT HAD TO RELOCATE TO A LARGER SITE. SOME TIME AFTER HIS DEATH IN 1891 THE BUSINESS BECAME KNOWN AS THE MERCHANT BOX AND COOPERAGE AND OPERATED AS PART OF SHUTE & MERCHANT. [ACCORDING TO RECORDS MADE BY GEORGE E. MERCHANT, A FAMILY HISTORIAN, IT WAS JAMES L. SHUTE WHO HAD THE IDEA TO START A BOX COMPANY RIGHT AT THE WHARF WHERE THE FISH WERE BEING PACKED.]

L. Merchant box ad

CLICK ON THUMBNAIL TO VIEW SOME OF THE BOXES MADE BY THE MERCHANT BOX COMPANY

gold wedge box shute and merchants box diamond wedge box 1
swan's down box finan haddie box

BOXES USED FOR PACKING FISH VARIED IN SIZE FROM 1 POUND TO 40 POUNDS.

1895 Merchant Box Company letter

When Lewis H. Merchant became too ill to manage the box company himself, he recruited his nephew Samuel L. Merchant to step in as acting President. S. L. Merchant continued to head the firm for several years after the death of his uncle.

LATER ADVERTISMENTS ALSO INDICATE THAT THE COMPANY SUPPLIED ALL THE TYPES OF PACKING MATERIALS NEEDED -- PAPER, AS WELL AS WOOD, SO THAT BOXES MADE OF CARDBOARD MAY HAVE EVENTUALLY PRODUCED ALONG WITH THE STURDIER WOODEN CRATES. EVENTUALLY THE BOX COMPANY RELOCATED TO THE CORNER OF WILLOW AND CLEVELAND STREETS. THIS BUSINESS, WHICH LATER EXPANDED INTO MAKING ALL KINDS OF BOXES (SODA, BEER, MILK AND FILE) AND EVEN ROAD SIGNS, REMAINED ACTIVE INTO THE 1970'S.

GORTON'S AND THE BENJAMIN A. SMITH'S, A PROMINENT GLOUCESTER FAMILY, ALSO HAVE TIES TO THE MERCHANT BOX COMPANY. THIS LINK COMES THROUGH THE MERGER OF FOUR FISH COMPANIES IN 1906 TO FORM THE GORTON-PEW FISHERIES COMPANY --- SLADE GORTON, JOHN PEW & SONS, THE DAVID B. SMITH FISH COMPANY, REED AND GAMAGE. THE 1907 SALE OF SHUTE & MERCHANT TO THE GORTON-PEW FISHERIES, INCLUDED THE MERCHANT BOX AND COOPERAGE COMPANY.

A 1914 GORTON-PEW BILLHEAD LISTS BENJAMIN A. SMITH AS THE MANAGER OF VESSELS. AROUND 1920, A SHORT TIME AFTER THE DEATH OF WILLIAM T. SHUTE, B.A. SMITH MAY HAVE TAKEN OVER AS PRESIDENT OF THE MERCHANT BOX AND COOPERAGE. LATER, BENJAMIN A. SMITH, II (THE MAN WHO COMPLETED JOHN F. KENNEDY'S SENATORIAL TERM WHEN J.F.K. RAN FOR PRESIDENT) ALSO SERVED AS PRESIDENT OF THE COMPANY.

CLICK ON THUMBNAIL TO VIEW OTHER MERCHANT BOX COMPANY ITEMS

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