Nicholson Files and Rasps
Providence, Rhode Island

Tool Types

Files and rasps

Directory of American Toolmakers Information

William T. Nicholson founded this company after inventing a file cutting machine, but in actuality was its agent Vice President. A series of buyouts followed, including the New American File Co. in 1890, the Great Western File Co. circa 1893 and the McClellan File Co. circa 1898. After 1900, numerous other companies were acquired, including M. Buckley & Co.; Eagle File Co.; Kearny & Foot; Arcade File Co.; J. Barton Smith Co.; Globe File Mfg. Co.; Mechanic's Star File Mfg. Co.; Toronto File Works; and G&H Barnett Co. Some of the company brand names persisted after the buyouts. Nicholson acquired file patents on 22 September 1864, 10 January 1865, 11 September 1866, 12 June 1877, 12 February 1878 and 4 June 1878. 18 February 1876 was patent-marked by the company ( later declared invalid) and 1 January 1878. In 1972, the company was bought out by Cooper Industries, though the brand name persists. (DATM)

Identifying Marks

Various combinations and configurations of full name and city/state, "Nicholson," brand names, patent dates, etc.

General Information

Nicholson File Company published a treatise on files and rasps, included in the bibliographical listing below. America's largest producer of hand-files.


From the Company Catalog



Nelson, Robert E., Ed. (1999). Directory of American Toolmakers: A listing of identified makers of tools who worked in Canada and the United States before 1900. Early American Industries Association.

Nicholson File Company. (1878). A treatise on files and rasps: Descriptive and illustrated: For the use of master mechanics, dealers, &c. in which the kinds of files in most common use, and the newest and most approved special tools connected therewith, are described -- giving some of their principal uses. With a description of the process of manufacture, and a few hints on the use and care of the file. Reprinted in 1983 by the Early American Industries Association.

Nicholson File Company. (1945) Nicholson Files and Rasps and X.F. Swiss Pattern Files. Nicholson File Company, Providence, RI.

Nicolson File Company. (1956). File filosophy and how to get the most out of files (-being a brief account of the history, manufacture, variety and uses of files in general.) Twentieth Edition. Nicolson File Company, Providence, R.I. IS.

  • The definitive guide to files and their use.
  • Also see the US & New England Toolmakers bibliography for many more Nicolson publications.

Links -- Files currently available from Nicholson under Cooper Tools.