Yankee ingenuity and the knack of picking a marketable specialty are traits which have distinguished the Farnsworth family of printers since 1886.
That was the year in which Theron A. Farnsworth settled in Camden and began a small job printing business in a barn behind his Minor Avenue residence.
That home is still in the family today and is still occupied by a T. A. Farnsworth, a grandson who has carried on the printing tradition and is today president of the Farnsworth Envelope Co.
Between these two men, 88 years of Farnsworth printing in the village of Camden are spanned.
The original “T.A.” specialized in printing of milk tickets. These were coupons bought from a dairy and used as a means of ordering and at the same time paying for home-delivered dairy products.
Known as the “Webb Press,” this business prospered first under the direction of T.A. and beginning in 1933 under the proprietorship of his grandson, Almon G. In 1938 it became a facet of the family’s major endeavor, the printing of church offering envelopes.
Back in 1896, T.A. had given his son, Almon M. Farnsworth, a small hand press, and while still in high school, A.M. launched a printing career, which was to spread the name of Camden, NY throughout the country.
Almon Farnsworth was canny and industrious and by 1906 he had established his own printing business in a new factory built by him at 17 Main St. This brick structure still houses a part of the Farnsworth operations.
The A.M. Farnsworth Co. first specialized in the printing of catalogues and advertising calendars. However, business soon came to be concentrated on printing boxed, annual sets of church offering envelopes. By 1916 his firm ranked as one of the nation’s leading suppliers of this unusual product.
The company continued to develop as a prominent church specialty printing house and in 1938 two sons, Almon G. and T. Albert, were taken into partnership and the A.M. Farnsworth & Sons Co. came into being.
A.M. Farnsworth died in 1947 and the partnership of his sons continued until 1957 when T. Albert formed a separate corporation to pursue a refinement of the envelope concept, the monthly mailing of individually addressed offering envelopes.
In 1959, Almon incorporated the parent company under the name “A.M. Farnsworth Sons” and took into the business his sons, David, who took charge of the growing commercial printing division. Almon retired in 1969 after 36 years of service to his business and this community.
Today, David is president of the company and has continued the manufacture of boxed envelopes, children’s envelopes, liturgical calendars and church specialties while building the commercial printing business into one of the finest job printing firms in Central New York.
Growth has been marked by numerous improvements to the original buildings and acquisition of the former Main St. Red and White Store and Grange building.
During the same time, the offshoot Farnsworth Envelope Co. has grown steadily under the direction of T. Albert Farnsworth. Three separate additions and extensive renovations including the erection of an attractive Main St. facade have been made over the past 17 years. Now Farnsworth Envelope puts nearly 4-1/2 million of mail through the Camden Post Office each year.
In 1969, T.A Farnsworth’s son, Jerry, entered the firm, joining David as the fourth generation of Farnsworths active in the vocation of printing and the avocation of building a better Camden.
REPRINTED from “The Advance-Journal” 100th Anniversary Edition
Thursday, May 9, 1974 All Rights Reserved