Our History

Established by David Gurney in 1825, the same year John Quincy Adams was elected president, D.B. Gurney Company remains unchanged.  The same product is manufactured; most of it using the original equipment, and the company is currently led by the seventh generation Gurney. 

When first founded, the factory sat on Massachusetts’ South Shore in Abington and featured both horse-powered and water-powered equipment, with each tackmaker able to produce 5,000 tacks by hand per day. Forty years later, the company moved to (what is now) Whitman, where it found its permanent home using the latest technology to power the factory – a steam engine.  D.B. Gurney’s factory is actually older than the town of Whitman itself; until 1875 Whitman was recognized as South Abington.  Initially chosen because of its proximity to the Gurney family houses, the factory allowed the men to easily head home for lunch and is nearly identical to its original state.  It is an integral piece of a New England town’s historic center where the steam engine continues to reside even though it has been replaced with electricity. 

Although the company was already fifty years old when the gas-powered automobile was invented, early cars required a full pound of tacks each.  D.B. Gurney Company was an important supplier to the early automobile industry, as well as countless other trades.  Further links between D.B. Gurney Company’s products and history include;

  • D.B. Gurney manufactured hob nails for the Civil War.  A hob nail has a large head, like a cleat, and was used in the sole of the boots to provide traction, reduce wear and, if necessary, defense.
  • D.B. Gurney products were used between 1926-1934 in Admiral Richard Byrd’s expeditions to Antarctic and the South Pole. 
  • D.B. Gurney supplied tacks for Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldren’s astronaut boots for the first steps on the moon in 1969.
  • D.B. Gurney product was chosen for the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) restoration in 1992.

David B. Gurney, Jr. has said, “When you buy from D.B. Gurney Company, you’re also buying a piece of history.”  He’s right, as you are buying the same product that our ancestors bought during the Civil War era.  Unfortunately, while the product remains consistent, the markeplace is completely different. D.B. Gurney Company’s tacks and nails are made predominantly for such specialized crafts as the upholstery trade, restoration, shoemaking and repair, basket manufacturing, trunk manufacturing, as well as boat and canoe construction – all skilled trades fight extinction.