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The Jackson and Sharp Company was founded in 1863 by Job H. Jackson and Jacob F. Sharp to build railroad cars. Its first products were peach and fruit cars that were useful to haul Delaware produce to markets. The company soon became one of the leading employers in Wilmington and one of the leading railroad car manufacturers in the world. It built the first American narrow-gauge car in 1871, received the Centennial Exposition medal for a car exhibited there in 1876, and built many private cars for wealthy Americans and foreign nobility such as Dom Pedro, Emperor of Brazil, and King Oscar II of Sweden. They were especially known for their ornate private cars whose interiors featured cherry, black walnut, and mahogany ornamental work. During the 1880’s Jackson and Sharp employed over a thousand men and produced 400 cars a year.
After Job Jackson died in 1901, the company was sold to the American Car and Foundry Company. When the railroads later declined, however, the company’s manufacturing of railroad cars ceased, and they concentrated on building fine yachts, pleasure craft, and naval craft. Although the company received large orders during World War II for land craft, barges, and minesweepers, operations ceased in the early 1950’s.
To document construction of its cars and ships, Jackson and Sharp had each car photographed, and in 1950-1951, the American Car and Foundry Company donated many of the photographic negatives to the State Archives. The majority of the collection consists of exterior and interior veiws of various types of railroad cars produced by the company between 1869 and 1930. These cars include diner, freight, mail-baggage-passenger, parlor, passenger, private, sleeper, and those exported to foreign countries. Views of railway equipment, cars under construction, railroad wrecks, and hand cars are also contained.
Many different types of ships built between 1884 and 1946 are represented in the collection. These include ferry boats; naval craft produced for the federal government, especially during World War I and World War II; pleasure craft; schooners; freight, passenger, and tanker steamships; and work craft such as barges, dredges, drydocks, and tugs. Also included with ships are shipyard views and ship plans.
In addition, the collection contains smaller groups of items like street cars, produced both for domestic and foreign use between 1875 and 1918; motor trucks, 1924-1931; millwork, 1894-1922; and views of Job Jackson’s house.
jrf/March 23, 1988; April 22, 1988