Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation records
Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library
PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
Finding aid prepared by Jennifer Matthews, 1897-1960, bulk 1920-1960
This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-02-20T16:31-0500
Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Cite items for this collection in the following format:
The Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation was a leading producer of radio parts from the 1920s through the 1950s. In 1908, Allen Cardwell began working in the telecommunications industry as an employee of his stepfather’s business, American Telegraph Typewriter Company. By the 1920s, Allen Cardwell had taken over the company and began to supply parts to the burgeoning radio industry.
Cardwell made many types of telecommunications equipment, including telegraph transmitters, wavemeters, coils, receivers, and other types of radio equipment. Cardwell was perhaps best known for their condensers (better known today as capacitors), an important electronic component in radios. Cardwell claimed that their sophisticated condensers provided listeners with a smoother sound and less static interference than their competitors’ models.
Cardwell designed products for a variety of companies, including Western Union, American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T), Western Electric, and the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Cardwell also designed the first automatic stock quotation system for the New York Stock Exchange. Additionally, Cardwell worked closely with the United States Government, designing and manufacturing communications equipment for the United States Navy, the Army Signal Corps, and the Bureau of Standards. During World War II, Cardwell supplied equipment to the Allied forces, and on May 15, 1943, the employees of Cardwell received a telegram from General Dwight D. Eisenhower thanking them for their support of the war effort.
Cardwell also sold radio equipment to individual consumers and hobbyists. Products were sold to distributors, who then marketed the parts to electronics supply stores. The company used various promotional methods to build the Cardwell brand in hopes that consumers would request their products by name when visiting retail stores. Consumers could also order specialty versions of parts directly from Cardwell.
In 1944, Cardwell moved its headquarters from Brooklyn, New York, to Plainville, Connecticut. By the early 1950s, the company was known as the Allen D. Cardwell Electronics Productions Corporation, reflecting the company’s shift to the design and manufacture of a wider variety of telecommunications products. After the company was bought by Norman Kjeldsen in 1957, it was renamed the Cardwell Condenser Corporation. In 1959, the headquarters were moved once again, this time to Lindenhurst, New York, on Long Island. From the 1960s through the 1990s, Cardwell purchased many smaller companies and continued to build its business of supplying electronics and telecommunications equipment. In 2004, Cardwell became a part of the Viking group and is now known as Viking Technologies, Ltd.
The collection consists of one linear foot of records, photographs, and small scrapbooks. In addition, the collection contains three oversized scrapbooks. The condition of most of the materials is good, although there is a fair amount of foxing on documents within the scrapbooks. The presence of mold substances on some of the documents as well as the deterioration of newsprint and glue within the scrapbooks confirm that these artifacts will require more extensive conservation at a later date. The collection came to Hagley from the IEEE History Center at Rutgers University. Paul Meyer, an engineer at Viking Technologies, Ltd., originally donated the materials to the IEEE History Center.
The collection contains a variety of promotional and technical materials, including patents, design drawings, newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, and promotional campaign materials. The majority of the documents in the collection come from the years 1914-1955. Most of the promotional and advertising material dates from the 1920s, while a majority of the technical and design drawings are dated from 1940 to 1955. There are also a variety of photographs that document Cardwell’s products, facilities, and employees from the 1920s through the 1950s.
Cardwell Condenser Corporation.
Electronics industries--United States.
Radio--Equipment and supplies.
Telecommunication--Equipment and supplies.
Telegraph--Equipment and supplies.