Charles Morrill and Asa Farr


From the sales card below, the Morrill's perfect saw set  lists Chas Morrill inventor or Asa Farr, Manufacturer and sole agent.  Who was Asa Farr and why is he listed as one of the sole agents for Morrill?  Charles Morrill Incorporated ended up in the 20th century as one of the largest producer of saw sets, but began as a partnership.

From the New York State law supplement of 1889 there was a lawsuit by Mrs. Ester Farr against Charles Morrill for a complete accounting and dispersal of half of the partnership after the death of her husband.

In 1879 Morrill applied for a patent for a new and improved saw set.  Asa Farr paid 1 dollar to Morrill for an undividable 1/2 interest to the rights and title to the saw set patent and all improvements and patents going forward.  Farr agreed to pay for the patents and furnish the capital need to mass produce the saw sets.  He also was in charge of all business dealings and day to day operations.   Charles Morrill was to travel the country introducing the saw sets to the merchants who sold them and the carpenters which used them.  For this he was paid $15.00 a week over and above his traveling expenses.  Each partner shared 50/50 on the profits from the saw sets.  Interestingly, their agreement did not include any provisions for losses, showing how profitable the new saw set was.

However upon the death of Asa Farr in July of 1885, Morrill took full control of the company and over time refused to pay Mrs. Farr her husband's share of the profits.  Thus the basis for the lawsuit.  It appears that after loosing the case, Morrill had to liquidate the company and give half of the proceeds to Mrs. Farr.  Liquidation of the company may explain why the size and the shape of the sets changed.  It perhaps was a good time to re-work the foundry patterns or new ones were needed because of the liquidation.  Placing that date around the time of the lawsuit of 1889.  Although not obvious, the shape change can be seen in the pictures below.  


From Right to left.  The first Morrill with only patent applied for stamped on the side.  The second Morrill with the first patent, Feb. 24, 1880 and patent applied for stamped on the side.  Finally an example of a Morrill #1 with Feb. 24, 1880 and Dec. 14, 1880 stamped on it.   The first two used wing nuts for adjustment setting, whereas the third uses a knob for the point adjustment.  The third is smaller than the first two and has less bend in the handle area.   It also does not have the flats on the side where the saw blade is inserted.  Around this time the different numbered Morrill's start to show-up.

Why the claim of August 1879 for the patent on the sales card?  Not sure, because the application date was Feb 24, 1879.  Perhaps wishful thinking on the part of Morrill and Farr to scare off copiers, since it is obvious that the set was made and sold before the patent.

Eight of Morrill's patents were registered after Farr's death in 1885.  Only the two 1880 patents were granted during Farr's life.  The first after Farr's death was Dec 14, 1886.

Asa Farr was a merchant in New York City during the mid to late part of the 19th century.  As can be seen from the advertisement from 1874 Tribune Almanac for boilers, he was a merchant before partnering with Morrill.  Also from the 1884 advertisement for Morrill's patent saw set, Asa Farr is shown as the seller.

The Tribune scan is from a Google books.


Charles Morrill lived until around 1900.  Several of his final patents were granted to his wife Sarah after his death, the earliest being in 1901.  In total he was awarded 13 saw set patents both during life and after death, the most prolific of all saw set inventors.

Later his son William continued to patent saw sets into the early 20th century.  Charles Morrill Incorporated continued until around the 1960's, when saw sets in general went out of use.