National Carbon Company

The National Carbon Company was founded in 1886 by the former Brush Electric Company executive W. H. Lawrence, in association with Myron T. Herrick, James Parmelee, and Webb Hayes, son of U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, in Cleveland, Ohio.[1] In 1890, National Carbon merged with Thomson-Houston, Standard Carbon, and Faraday Carbon.


In 1894 the company began marketing Leclanché wet cells. At the same time, E. M. Jewett, was working in the company's Lakewood plant on the west side of Cleveland, under the direction of George Little. Jewett became interested in dry cells and, in his free time, conducted experiments in the laboratory. He developed a paper-lined, 1.5 volt cylindrical dry cell which he showed to Lawrence, who gave Jewett and Little a green light to begin manufacturing commercial dry cells. The trademark "Columbia" was proposed by Nelson C. Cotabish, a sales manager at NCC. In 1896 the company marketed the very first battery intended for widespread consumer use: the sealed, six-inch, 1.5 volt Columbia. NCC was the first company to successfully manufacture and distribute sealed dry cell batteries on a large scale.[2]

The company introduced the first D cell battery in 1898.

The existing National Carbon Company grew significantly in 1899. The firm "incorporated under New Jersey laws January 16, 1899 as a consolidation of the following companies engaged in the manufacture of lighting carbons, carbon brushes for generators and motors, carbon batteries, carbon diaphragms and back plates for telephones, carbons for electrolytic purposes and kindred products.

  • American Carbon Co Noblesville Ind
  • Brush Carbon Works Cleveland Ohio
  • Faraday Carbon Co Jeannette, Pennsylvania
  • Globe Carbon Co Ravana Ohio
  • National Carbon Co Cleveland Ohio
  • Partridge Carbon Co Sandusky Ohio
  • Phoenix Carbon & Mfg Co St. Louis Mo
  • Solar Carbon & Mfg Co Pittsburgh
  • The Standard Carbon Co Cleveland Ohio
  • Thomson Houston Carbon Co Fremont, Ohio
  • The Washington Carbon Co Pittsburgh [3]

[4] The company supplied approximately 75% of the US carbon market in the world.[5]

In 1906, National Carbon Company, which had been supplying Conrad Hubert's American Electrical Novelty & Manufacturing Company (maker of Ever Ready flashlights and batteries) with materials for batteries, bought half interest in the company for $200,000. The name was changed to The American Ever Ready Company and the trademark was shortened to one word - Eveready. In 1914, The American Ever Ready Company became part of National Carbon Company now forming a manufacturer making both batteries and lighting products.

In 1917, Union Carbide acquired National Carbon Company.

From 1917 until 1921 Eveready used the trademark "DAYLO" for their flashlights and on their batteries.

The American Chemical Society designated the development of the Columbia dry cell battery as a National Historic Chemical Landmark on September 27, 2005. The commemorative plaques at Energizer in Cleveland and at Energizer headquarters in St. Louis read:

In 1896 the National Carbon Company (corporate predecessor of Energizer) developed the six-inch, 1.5 volt Columbia battery, the first sealed dry cell successfully manufactured for the mass market. The Columbia, a carbon-zinc battery with an acidic electrolyte, was a significant improvement over previous batteries, meeting consumer demand for a maintenance-free, durable, no-spill, inexpensive electrochemical power source. Finding immediate use in the rapidly expanding telephone and automobile industries, the Columbia launched the modern battery industry by serving as the basis for all dry cells for the next sixty years.

In 1940, the company supplied highly purified carbon for the role as nuclear graphite in nuclear fission experiments carried out by Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard. [6][7]


Over the years, the company has had many names: the Boulton Carbon Company, the National Carbon Company, the Carbon Products Division of Union Carbide, the UCAR Carbon Company, UCAR International, and is now known as GrafTech International. A division spun off in 2017, NeoGraf Solutions, LLC, retains the original National Carbon factory in Lakewood, Ohio. Notable offspring from the company include KEMET Laboratories (capacitor technologies), Cytec Industries', Engineered Materials group (carbon fiber products), Energizer Holdings (batteries), and National Specialty Products (carbon and graphite specialty products).


  1. ^ Eveready Battery Company Records Collection at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
  2. ^ "Columbia Dry Cell Battery". National Historic Chemical Landmarks. American Chemical Society. Archived from the original on May 15, 2016. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  3. ^ Moody, John, The Truth about the Trusts: A Description and Analysis of the American Trust Movement, Moody Publishing Company, 1904 p. 261
  4. ^ The Chicago Banker, Volume 1, Page 188.Chicago Banker Company 1899
  5. ^ "Big Carbon Firms Combine: Three-fourths of this Industry in the World Included" New York Times, January 10, 1899
  6. ^ Salvetti, Carlo (2001). "Fermi's Pile". In C. Bernardini and L. Bonolis (ed.). Enrico Fermi: His work and legacy. New York N. Y.: Springer Verlag. pp. 177–203. ISBN 3540221417.
  7. ^ "National Carbon Company, Inc., letters of Leo Szilard". Library Digital Collections. University of California San Diego. Retrieved May 7, 2022.