From 1953: “Tool and Die Making: Keystone of Mass Production”

This film was produced in 1953 for the U.S. National Tool and Die Manufacturers Association, a trade group for independent tool and die shops (as opposed to those operated by large manufacturers, called “captive tool and die shops” here). This is a view of a confident, world-leading industrial nation at the height of its power. Not only were small, independent suppliers the backbone of a flexible, innovative manufacturing sector, as the film describes, many of these thriving businesses were founded by high- and trade-school graduates who began as apprentices, advanced to journeymen, and then started their own independent companies as the economy grew. And, not mentioned because everybody knew it, the young men who entered the shop they employed could soon afford a house, a car, and support a family on the salary they took home.

But, I suppose it was all too expensive and those self-sufficient tool and die men and other mainstays of what had recently been the “arsenal of democracy”, now become an engine of abundance, didn’t consider themselves victims and vote the right way, so it all had to be sent offshore and their proud shops left to rust in a hollowed-out heartland.

(If working conditions shown in the film appear hazardous by present-day standards, note the statement at the beginning that safety devices have been removed in some instances in the interest of visibility while filming.)


And along come the state, banning such incrementally-improved products seriatim.