Eliakim T. Russell was the successor of William Brooks, who began to manufacture matches at North Ashburnham, Mass. at the early date of 1887. Brooks built up a thriving business, but became involved in expensive litigation over patent infringements (probably of the Phillips patent, owned by Ezekial Byam), and sold out to Russell sometime prior to 1866. Local history states that Russell operated the factory only through that year, which may account for the fact that although Russell's private die was approved in December, 1865, no stamps were issued from it until February, 1867. According to the BRB: “Mr. Russell evidently sold out to one M. B. Lane, as all orders and correspondence were in the latter name during the latter part of the life of the stamp.” Considering the above facts, I am inclined to believe that ALL the Russell stamps were used by Lane. Martin B. Lane was a resident of Ashburnham, and was presumably the “M. B. Lane” referred to as Russell's successor. However, he is not mentioned in connection with the match business, whereas, one Milton Lane of the same town is named as a manufacturer of match stock or splints. The two Lanes were quite probably relatives, and my own surmise would be that they both had an interest in the Ashburnham factory. Martin B. Lane may have supplied the capital and/or handled the business end, while Milton Lane supervised the actual production. In any case, the issue of the Russell stamps continued through January, 1872. Byam, Carlton & Co. of Boston are known to have operated a branch factory at Ashburnham, and it is quite possible that they bought out the Russell/Lane business at that time.
By Bruce Miller, ARA #372, The American Revenuer, June 1965, p. 64