Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Hoe, Robert

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HOE, Robert, manufacturer, b. in Leicestershire, England, 29 Oct., 1784; d. in Westchester county, N. Y., 4 Jan., 1833. He was apprenticed to a joiner by his father, who was a farmer, but succeeding in purchasing his articles of indenture from his master, came to the United States in 1803. Soon after his arrival in New York he found employment at his trade, and after the invention by his brother-in-law, Peter Smith, of a hand printing-press, was associated with him and his brother, Matthew Smith, in their manufacture. In 1823 he succeeded to the sole control of the business, which rapidly developed with the increased demand for presses and other printing material. The Hoe press was brought out by him, and built from ideas that were obtained from the English flat-bed cylinder presses. He is said to have been the first American machinist to employ steam as a motor for his machinery. Failing health compelled his retirement from business in 1832, and he died during the following year. — His son, Richard March, inventor, b. in New York city, 12 Sept., 1812; d. in Florence, Italy, 7 June, 1886, entered his father's workshop at the age of fifteen, became thoroughly familiar with every detail of the business, and was made senior member of the firm in 1833. He showed considerable inventive skill, and kept steady pace with the demands on his establishment for improved and rapid presses. In the style of press that was prevalent when he entered business, the type was placed on a flat bed, inked by a roller that travelled back and forth, and then laid under a cylinder which carried the paper. He soon improved this method by placing the type on a fixed cylinder, and making the impression-cylinders travel around it. Later he placed the type on a revolving cylinder, in contact with which revolved four iron impression-cylinders, each carrying sheets of paper. This rotary press became known as Hoe's “lightning press.” At first it consisted of but two cylinders, but their number was increased to four, six, eight, and finally to ten. Subsequently he built a press capable of printing from a long sheet, or web, of paper, and on both sides of the sheet at a single operation. This press is a combination of the most delicate and intricate devices. A roll of paper five miles long is put through the machine at the rate of eight hundred feet a minute. As the sheets come out they are passed over a knife which cuts them apart, and they are then run through an apparatus which folds them for the mail or for carriers. These completely printed and folded newspapers are delivered as quickly as the eye can follow them. He early added the production of steel saws to his business, and the manufacture of these was gradually improved. In 1837 he visited England, and obtained a patent for a better process of grinding saws. He established in New York, in connection with his factory, an apprentice's school, where free instruction was given. Mr. Hoe acquired a large fortune, and at the time of his death was travelling in Europe for his health. — Another son, Robert, b. in New York city, 19 July, 1815; d. in Tarrytown, N. Y., 13 Sept., 1884, was associated with his father and elder brother in business. He was one of the founders of the National academy of design, and a patron of young artists. — Robert, son of the second Robert, b. in New York city, 10 March, 1839, is at present (1887) senior member of the firm, and is also president of the Grolier club, an organization for promoting the arts pertaining to the production of books. He has edited “The Print Collector,” by J. Maberley (New York, 1880).