Wiss, J. & Son Scissors

13-31 Littleton Street

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From: "Newark, the Metropolis of New Jersey" Published by the Progress Publishing Co. 1901

The J. Wiss & Son's Company, today one of the largest concerns in the United STates engaged in the manufacture of shears and scissors of the highest grade, has grown to its highly important and extensive size from a very small beginning, when the nineteenth century was nearly half expired, yet it was one of the pioneer houses in this line. The English and Swiss goods were then almost exclusively sold in America and the belief was that a good quality of shears could not be made here. Mr. J. Wiss is probably entitled to more praise for overcoming that prejudice than any dozen other men. He was born in Switzerland in 1817 and was a practical steel expert in his native land. He came to America when 30 years of age and in 1848 established a small plant in Bank Street on part of the ground now covered by the Prudential Building. He began by making only the highest grade of goods and not only in accordance with the best Swiss knowledge but by methods of his own devising which produced better articles than those which were imported. He built on a solid foundation and by strictly honest conduct reared the superstructure of the great industry which still bears his honored name although he passed from this life fully 21 years ago.

The business went on up building after his death, his sons having grown up in the works under his careful training and the firm name of J. Wiss & Sons has become so identified with high quality shears and scissors throughout the entire globe, that the exports from their factory here now exceed the entire bulk of imports to this country when Mr. Wiss commenced to stem the tide 52 years ago.

In 1900 the present J. Wiss & Son's Company was incorporated under New Jersey laws with F. C. J. Wiss, president and treasurer, and Louis T. Wiss, secretary. The present plant in Littleton Avenue was built in 1887, a three-story and basement brick structure having a ground area of 40 by 200 feet. The wing, 35 by 160 feet in floor dimension, was added in 1894, and two hundred skilled employees are now engaged in the manufacture of the Wiss shears and scissors.

Since 1889 the firm of J. Wiss & Son have conducted a most important retail store at No. 755 Broad Street in addition to their manufacturing business. It is one of the popular show places of Newark, displaying a handsome stock of jewelry, watches, diamonds, silverware, cut glass and a full line of table and pocket cutlery. Their fine carving sets are all their own make and are manufactured specially for their large retail trade, while in the remounting of precious stones, watch and jewelry repairing and grinding of cutlery they have taken the lead of all others in this community.

From "New Jersey; Life, Industries and Resources of a Great State:1926"

In 1848 Jacob Wiss, a Swiss surgical instrument make, opened a modest shop in Bank Street, Newark, to manufacture shears and scissors.  He landed at New York but decided to go on to Texas.  Passing through Newark, he was attracted by the future possibilities of the town even in those early days.  He secured work, but in a short time opened up a small factory on part of the ground now occupied by the Prudential Insurance Company.

Lacking other motive power for his primitive machinery, Jacob Wiss used a treadmill operated by two large St. Bernard dogs which he had brought from Switzerland as his faithful companions.  The present tax burden did not trouble manufacturers in those days.  A tax receipt dated August 1, 1845, signed by D. J. Camfield, collector, gives a total of $4 which was for the two dogs, and this was his only tax.

In this modest shop Jacob Wiss forged by hand his shears and scissors. The fame of these spread, and larger quarters were taken nearby.  In 1887 the factory was moved to Littleton Avenue.  The business has expanded steadily, and the present four-story plant covers 120,000 square feet and has over 500 employees, many with long years of service.

J. Wiss & Sons Company makes shears, scissors, tinners' snips, and hedge, grass, and pruning shears.  In addition to having wide distribution in the United States and Canada, the products are shipped to Europe, Africa, Australia and South America, even penetrating the cutlery center of Sheffield, England.