Libanus McLoud Todd of Rochester NY

Libanus McLoud Todd9, (Asahel8, Asahel7, Jehiel6, Stephen5, Stephen4, Samuel3, Samuel2, Christopher1) born July 14, 1862, married Nora Agnes Conway.

Libanus M. Todd is the President of The Todd Protectograph Company, of Rochester, N. Y., and inventor of the famous machines which bear his name. Of the achievements and the development of the company which was organized by he and his brother, George W. Todd, he writes the following on their twentieth anniversary.

Last week Charlie Tiefel and I took the car and drove to the old house on Gregory Street, where, twenty years ago, we built the first Protectograph. You may imagine that you have seen us right back where we started twenty years ago. Our hair is grayer and things have changed considerably during that time.

I could not help but think over the many interesting things that have occurred in this business since that sunny June day, twenty years ago, when we sat under the trees and worked out the problems that came to us on this first machine. Walter Todd, a lad of thirteen, was at that time building a boat, and having the usual good time that comes to boys of his age, and my own family had not yet begun to arrive. Little did we think in those days that in this brief period of time such an organization would be built up to carry the name “Protectograph” into all parts of the civilized world.

I can well remember the first year, during which time our output and sales totaled one hundred machines. During that and the period following there were many nights when I went to the express office with our day’s output, three Protectographs in each hand, and shipped them out to our agents or customers.

The next Fall when George W. Todd went to the Banker’s Convention at Richmond, and returned with orders for some twenty odd machines from various banks, we felt that we had a real incentive for working out improvements, and producing a larger number of machines. During the first year, we had worked out some ideas for improvements, but during the entire twenty years, the design and size of the machine has remained exactly as in the first ones manufactured. The first hundred machines were made for us under contract by another concern in Rochester, and we continued having our machines made by other parties for a considerable period.

When, after nearly four years of work and study, we produced nearly ten thousand machines, our agent, Mr. William Russell, located in New York City, who was our largest distributor at that time, came to visit us and told us that while he felt we would undoubtedly sell more machines, we had, he believed, reached the peak. This, as I recall, was the first time in Protectograph history that a territory was reported “sold out”. At that time less than ten thousand machines had been made and sold.

Today, when our sales have climbed up to more than three-quarters of a million of the various devices which we manufacture, I feel that this check protecting business is still in its infancy. Mr. Russell lived to see his statement disproven, and to realize what a wonderful possibility there was in connection with the business.

In 1905 we moved into our own factory on West Main Street, and there we manufactured Protectograph number twenty-five thousand–the first in our own plant. The business continued to grow until in 1909, we completed the Protectograph plant at 1155 University Avenue. As the business developed and our advance advertising began to educate the public to the merits of the Protectograph, the capacity of this plant was gradually overtaxed. Charlie and I had, of course, long since ceased to direct the manufacture and shipment of each individual machine, having placed those matters in the hands of people well trained to handle them, while we were devoting ourselves to improvements in the line.

With the advent of the Protectograph Check Writer in the fall of 1913, even our model factory, designed to take care of the Protectograph business indefinitely, was found to be inadequate, so the presnt plant was purchased, and we moved into it over night, at the same time keeping up production on the Protectograph Check Writers, so that the insistent demands of our customers might be met. Then in another year came the crowning glory of the Protectograph System–Protod, and the Indemnity Bond.

Now our twentieth year has begun, there is peace and prosperity in the world, the Protod baby has developed into a lusty youngster, and a majority of the Banks and business houses of this country are using the Protectograph System.

This, however, is not the end. It is the beginning. As I look back over the twenty years, I realize that I little dreamed that our business would require a plant like the present one, with nearly one thousand people earning their livelihood in the factory and on the sales force, as a result of the development of the Protectograph.

Mr. Charles G. Tiefel, who is one of the directors of the Todd Protectograph Company, tells something as to the actual beginnings of the Protectograph. He says, “One day in June 1899, Mr. Libanus M. Todd asked me to meet him to help him with some drawings of a check protecting machine. Well do I remember that day of twenty years ago. We went out under the apple tree, and fixed up a table to make our drawings on. While thus at work, Mr. Todd reached over and took a big round inkwell that we had brought out to hold the papers down, as a paper weight, and laid it in the middle of a piece of drawing paper, then took his pencil and drew a circle around that old inkwell to show the shape of the dial of the new machine.”

That, according to Mr. Tiefel, was the actual beginning of a business which has grown to be the largest in the check protection industry, a business which from the most humble of beginnings has attained a proud and honorable place among the office appliance manufacturers of the United States, a business which, during the twentieth year of its existence will probably mount to nearly three millions of dollars.

For two weeks Mr. Todd and Mr. Tiefel worked out there under the tree, making the drawings; then with the design completed, and reduced to paper, Charles moved inside to the woodshed workshop in which he continued the work of the first protectograph, by actually building the machine under the direction of the inventor, Mr. Libanus M. Todd, himself.

The first model protectograph was fashioned from wood and metal patterns and the machine itself was nickel plated all over and had a wooden base. Later on it was decided that the machine should have a “treatment” of black enamel, and the nickel finish was then abandoned, except for the trimmings. The first machines were not furnished with an ink supply roll and it was necessary to “pry” the bottom off and “paint” the ink on the roll when the original ink supply became exausted from continued use. “In those days we didn’t think much about reinking the machine because we really thought the ink would last as long as the machine themselves,” said Mr. Tiefel.

Mr. T. J. Gildea, of Wisconsin, says as to the achievements of George W., and Libanus M. Todd, “I can’t but wonder at the growth, magnitude, and development of an enterprise that promised so little twenty short years ago. It seems almost miraculous, and yet there isn’t a thing about it that has the suspicion of the supernatural. The credit for the success of the Todd industry must be given to the genius who conceived the idea of the protectograph, and with it revolutioned the principle of check protection the world over. I have reference to Mr. George W. Todd.

That credit being properly placed, I am not unmindful of the fact that there is another genius who is entitled to an equal credit with his enterprising brother. I have reference this time to Libanus M. Todd, who not only developed the protectograph, but gave us the world’s greatest and best Check Writer, an instrument having many imitators, but no rival, no peer.”

George W. Todd and Libanus M. Todd are typically self-made and self-reliant men, architects of their own business plan and fortune, and eminently successful, due to a progressive spirit, and strict attention to business that has characterized them, and a reputation for honesty well and fairly won.

George W. and Libanus M. Todd began their business career when young. Inexperienced, without assistance, with little or no encouragement, under disheartening conditions, with many hours of anxious study and with perseverance unusual and a determination to succeed, can now after twenty years share satisfied fruition; and well they deserve it. They are looking forward to the future with optimism believing that the biggest success is still ahead of the protectograph, and as evidence of this confidence, they are celebrating the twentieth anniversary by enlarging several of the factory departments, ordering more new equipment than the first shop contained from cellar to loft.

2623. Conway Libanus, b. July 16, 1900.
2624. Elnora, b. Feb. 27, 1902; was accidently killed.
2625. Margaret, b. Nov. 6, 1903.
2626. Sarah Maria, b. Sept. 8, 1905.
2627. Ellen Laura, b. March 16, 1907.
2628. Asahel Richard, b. May 15, 1909.



Todd, George Iru. Todd Family in America. Gazette Printing Company. 1920.

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