Archive, mouse trap manufacturing, A.W. Standfield and Co, Mascot, New South Wales, 1924-1996
The Standfield collection of trap-making machines and associated items is an unusual, indeed curious, ensemble of purpose-built machines and products that defined an Australian industry for sixty years.
The collection exemplifies a making-do approach to manufacturing in that the machines were built from secondhand parts from a range of sources; it also exemplifies the notion of technological stasis in that the machines were always considered efficient and sophisticated artifacts for the making of rodent traps. Likewise, the organisation, traditional skills, and daily customs of the Standfield firm did not change from the Second World War to the end of the twentieth century, a period when rapid industrial change was the norm.
The nature of production at Standfields was based on a belief that a unique machine would provide a quality product whose market was based upon the natural cycle of rodent population size. According to the Standfields, production was never based upon the traditional economic factors of supply and demand, as these concepts did not seem applicable to a production facility of this nature, size, and scale. Productivity was rarely increased or decreased from the machine's range, that is, 1,000 traps per hour. Product stockpiling was a normative value that was practised by the firm.
Less demonstrative, but deeply embedded in the Standfield approach to manufacturing, was a belief that a well-made and simple product defined an Australian approach to the making of things.
The archives are significant as they are the extant documentary evidence for Wesley Standfield's principal invention (the mouse-trap machine), and his lesser public invention (the Kyogle cow-tail clip).
The archives also provide historical, technical, social, and economic details on the origins and development of the firm, the inventor, and his inventions.
Des Barrett, 2002
Some of the records were used as information guides when detail about the firm was sought by journalists and students.
The company records remained in single ownership, prior to acquisition for the Museum's collection.
Arnold Wesley Standfield (1901-1990), founder of A.W. Standfield and Co, Mascot, manufacturers of 'Supreme' brand mouse and rat traps, was born in Kyogle, NSW on 8 March 1901.
The papers give the date of establishment of the company as 1925, 1926 and 1933. (The business name 'A.W. Standfield & Co' was registered in 1937). In 1925 Standfield patented the Kyogle tail clip which secured a cow's tail during milking and in 1926 he patented the Westan mouse trap. Originally operating from a backyard in 19 Macintosh Street, Mascot, the company moved to 113-115 Baxter Street, Mascot in the early 1930s.
As well as rodent traps, A.W. Standfield and Co manufactured cowtail clips, carpet ends (metal ends for carpet runners), shelf brackets, flower pot stands, spring hinges, clothes pegs and clips for corsets. A 1930s letterhead for A.W. Standfield, engineer in the papers (2001/85/2-4/1/1) states "all classes of sheet metal stampings, dies and press tools made, experimental work carried out".
The mouse trap machine, now held by the Museum (2001/85/1), was designed and manufactured by Standfield in 1942-43 and used continually at the Mascot factory until August 2000, producing about 96 million traps.
While there were other rodent trap manufacturers in Australia in the 1930s and 1940s, they did not last and by 1943 Standfield was the only manufacturer in the southern hemisphere. As well as marketing in Australia the firm exported to New Zealand, the US Army (especially during World War II), South America, several Pacific Islands and New Guinea.
Standfield's sons Dave and Ron Standfield assisted their father with repair and maintenance of the machines and became the owners and managers of the firm on the death of their father until the firm wound up in August 2000.
2001/85/2-5 Papers re company history