There are two other articles on this web site related to companies that may provide additional information. They are. The information included in this article has been obtained from a wide variety of sources including but not limited to City Directories from Louisville, KY. Public Library, information printed in company catalogs and some resources available on the Internet. The illustrations have all been drawn by the author with the inclusion of one photograph as noted. As of this posting a significant number of individuals have contributed information to this overall project appearing as Yesteryears Tools. Some have provided a considerable amount of information while others have provided bits and pieces.
He studied metallurgy at the Western University of Pennsylvania and initially became involved in making engines.
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He is reputed to have made a water wheel capable of providing some type of propulsion as well as a rotary steam engine. That apparently tied in with his interests in steamboats, an enterprise he also became involved in. In the early s he had also entered into the dry goods business with his brother John and his brother-in-law, a man named McShane.
He may have just been an investor in that business. The commission business facilities were destroyed by fire in Sometime around late or early William and his brother John relocated to Eddyville, Kentucky.
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It was there that William married Mildred Gracy of Eddyville and they started a family. Some of the items the business produced were kettles for processing sugar and pig iron blooms that were supplied to other manufacturers as a basic material for further processing.
Within a short period of time the Kelly brothers discovered there was an insufficient local supply of charcoal readily available, which in turn increased the costs of purifying the pig iron.
That discovery, along with his education in metallurgy, led William to start conducting experiments in refining iron and developing more efficient foundry and forging methods. Apparently Kelly was not the only one conducting similar experiments around that time.
Although he later proved he was the first to discover the process of sending blasts of air through molten iron, the initial credit for discovering the process went to Henry Bessemer of England.
That was in but he never profited to the degree that the Bessemer Converter profited. In William got involved with a syndicate that organized a corporation for controlling Kelly's patents but indications are Kelly was not overly involved in the actual business. Instead he concentrated his efforts on another business, the manufacture of steel.
City and Business Directory listings of the s indicate that William C. Kelly was located in Louisville, Kentucky and that he was in the steel business in At that time William C. Kelly is listed in conjunction with the word "steelworks" with no mention of any other specialty or any address. Indications are that William C. In the Louisville City Directory indicates that W. Kelly was located at Portland Street and that he was a "Mfg. Kelly later moved to W. Main with the same reference; Mfg. Records indicate that William Kelly died on February 11, Kelly of Louisville, Kentucky.
One would expect that the patents in question may have been issued to the executor of William Kelly's estate or some other appointee considering William Kelly had already died, but in reality the patents were issued to one of Kelly's sons, named William C.
William Kelly, the father, had sired a number of children and his second son, born December 1,was also named William C. By James P. Kelly, the third son of William C.
The company by then was listed as being a manufacturer of axes and hatchets. It is believed that James became the general manager of the business in That would coincide with the year his father William C. Kelly died. Interestingly, W. Kelly had been issued a patent on September 29, for an "AX" pattern. The patent was issued as No.
Some subsequent advertising printed in publications in the s included the date on axes and apparently some axes also included the date. However, the vast majority of advertising and markings on actual Perfect Axes included two dates and possibly applied to patents by both William C. Kelly and James P. Kelly who were brothers involved in the Kelly Axe Mfg.
It was No. The earliest markings include only the date May 7, The date is believed to have referred to Patent No. It could also have applied to a patent issued the same day to James P. Kelly that was designated as Patent No. The other marks have May 7, along with September 23, The second date is incorrect as it is not a Tuesday and by that time US patents were only issued on Tuesdays.
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That practice had been in effect since In the company built a factory in Alexandria, Indiana and in all the operations relocated to that city. One of the major reasons for relocating was the supposedly abundant supply of natural gas. The management had such faith in the continuance of the company that they even relocated most of their experienced work force to Alexandria. They soon to learned that the information related to the supply of natural gas was erroneous.
The company remained in Alexandria until when they again relocated; that time to Charleston, West Virginia. Part of the justification for the move was a more promising supply of natural gas which had become the company's major fuel used in the axe making factories. As mentioned, it was discovered that the reserves thought to be available in Alexandria were insufficient for their long range purposes. The Charleston move was to a tract of land that initially involved 25 acres along the edge of the Elk River not far from where it joins the Kanawha River.
Shortly after the business relocated to Charleston they opened an office in New York City. New York was a much more prestigious center of commerce and the New York office aided in expanding the company into international markets.
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Kelly was still listed as the president of the Kelly Axe Mfg. The company was then listed as being located on the corner of Patrick and 4th Ave. Two years later,W. Kelly is still listed as the president with George T. Price as the V. Kelly as the secretary.
Kelly Axe was one of the first large industries in the Kanawha Valley and for many years provided jobs for several hundred men and women. The company used some immigrant labor; in , for example, most of the company's ax grinders were natives of Poland or Russia. Kelly Axe became part of American Fork and Hoe Company in July Aug 06, So Kelly Axe has a long winding history thru the axe years. It appears (and depending on what you read in books, online, catalogs, etc it will vary, trust me) that the Kelly Axe got started in the mid s - pretty much in line with our other main companies we have talked about. Again, depending on your reference, this will vary. In The American Fork & Hoe Company completely bought out the Kelly Axe Mfg. Co., also known as the Kelly Axe & Tool Co. That brought to an end the fifty seven year history of the Kelly Axe Mfg. Co. Although the name Kelly was continued for some time, none of the Kelly offspring are known to have been involved any longer.
By G. Some opinions suggest that the Kelly Axe Mfg. Perhaps Kelly was solicited in regard to joining but declined.
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During the next three decades the Kelly Axe Mfg. That acquisition resulted in the takeover of all the plants owned by the A. A considerable amount of equipment was relocated to Charleston which in turn resulted in a major expansion of Kelly's manufacturing facilities in that city.
What had occupied approximately 25 acres in had grown to 41 acres in the late teens and then expanded to encompass approximately 60 acres after they bought the A. Manufacturing operations ran continuously around the clock and the or so employees of was soon increased to around 1, workers. The purchase of the A. The company headquarters initially remained in Charleston, West Virginia and was continued there until when they moved the headquarters to Cleveland, Ohio.
During their history, the Kelly Axe Mfg. As the etching process became more expensive, the use of paper labels increased to the point that Kelly furnished axes identified with scores of different labels. Many of the labels included the name of the distributor rather than the Kelly name. Eventually the application of etchings was reduced to practically nil and they converted to the Kelly Axe Mfg.
Vintage Kelly Axe & Tool Co Jersey pattern Axe-Head-hatchet-old-tool possumhollowtrading. From shop possumhollowtrading. 5 out of 5 stars reviews $ Favorite Add to Kelly Perfect True Temper Works 5 pound "Very Rare" Rafting Felling Axe AxeWildMushroomWood. Note for Metal Detectorists and Collectors: Discuss plans for detecting finds before your detect. On private hunts, leave all finds and copies of your notes at the property, including GPS coordinates, depth, photographs, etc. in case it can assist future Archaeological work. Jun 15, Axe Head Dating - Kelly Axes Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by HandyMoose, Jun 14, Jun 14, #1. HandyMoose. 4. Jun 14, Just recently came across this forum while trying to date some axes I picked up from a few estate sales. I have been collecting and restoring old tools for a while but don't have much.
Because of that practice, attributing the manufacturer of a specific axe to a specific manufacturer can often be confusing. Reports indicate that those axes that were still etched were frequently processed by the Mann Edge Tool Company.
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Some of the more famous brands associated with Kelly over the years were sold with patent dates etched or stamped into the metal. Others included patent dates noted on paper labels. As mentioned, as the Kelly Axe Mfg. Many of their brands were registered. Some were registered in the U.
Trademark Office while others were primarily used by specific distributors. In a number of cases the only purpose the label served was to differentiate one item from the same item sold to or through another distributor. Those items may have been identical, or as close to identical as reasonably possible at the time, especially considering the methods by which they were made.
The material may have been close to the same but as it was made in batches the proportional contents of the batches varied somewhat. The individuals that fabricated the axes or hatchets may have been the same but the involvement of some hand processing also made the end results differ somewhat. Whatever the case, Kelly was producing hundreds of thousands of axes and other edge tools each year. As the manufacturing capability evolved and the company expanded, the various processes were performed in different departments.
Apparently there was some hand processing for almost every step in the overall procedure. In reality the major shaping was actually done by machinery. Those evolving technologies had been part of the continuously developing advancements in manufacturing.
So if someones sees something incorrect, please bring it up so we can get some verification and go from there. The more info the better.
So Kelly Axe has a long winding history thru the axe years. It appears and depending on what you read in books, online, catalogs, etc it will vary, trust me that the Kelly Axe got started in the mid s - pretty much in line with our other main companies we have talked about. Again, depending on your reference, this will vary. From what I can tell though, the axes part of this equation started aroun give or take a couple years.
Things are complicated from the start because the Kelly family William C Kelly the main player, but alas, there was 2 of them! At this time, the operation was in Louisville, KY.
The name used around this time appears to have been Kelly Axe Mfg Co. After some time in Loisville, the decision was made to pack up shop and move the business to Alexandria, Indiana in The entire operation was moved based of the premise of an indication of natural resources that would aide in the manufacture of axes.
This move proved to be not worth it though, and the decision was made relative quickly to move the entire operation to Charleston, WV in With this move inthe additional name of Kelly Axe and Tool Co was now also used, if not replacing the older name.
There is confusion about this, and we are just getting started. Some sources say that the Tool Co name was now being used because an office for Kelly was opened in NYC at this time, and this made marketing easier.
Take that for what you will. We have talked about the importance of marketing before with axes, so it does make sense. So, continuing on, hopefully someone has said to themself - "Hey were are in the early s here, what about the big boy on the block, the American Axe and Tool Co? The AATCo was the congolmerate of roughly 16 axes companies into one major company in the late s Kelly was left out, for whatever reason.
Maybe due to them moving, not being seen as stable, or maybe they didnt have the production numbers needed to be included. This decision would ultimately come back to haunt them, as for in Kelly bought out the AATCo entirely. This is were things get real interesting. So remember, the AATCo had 16 or so companies in it, and when they merged, AATCo now had rights to all those names and labels of axes of the individual makers prior. This included some Mann lines, Douglas, Hubbard, Lippincott, etc.
The axe lines or names for Kelly just exploded. They were now without a doubt the largest axe manufacturer in the world.
They relocated all the machinery to Charleston, and the plant basically tripled in size. Workforce now of roughly workers, they were able to produce some serious numbers daily. The entire operation was in Charleston except they did have a handle facility in Tennessee. However, as we have seen in the axe world, the good times only last so long, and in the American Fork and Hoe Co completely bought out Kelly. There are various reasons for this, obviously the depression was a major factor at play.
I wonder if they were just too big though for their own good, and it ended up costing them at this time. At this time then inthe name changed again to Kelly Axe and Tool Works.
However, many sources say that the previous 2 names were still being used after. Good times.
The AFH company had the axe making arm of its company now, and production actually did decrease some with this. So now the AFHCo is in control, and not done with the changes yet.
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Some years later, there is a restructing, and the axe division gets renamed to True Temper. This is the name most people are familar with when it comes to Kelly Axes. This rename to True Temper came about in So remember, anything Kelly you see with TT on it should be post I use this to gauge Kelly when looking at axes. Now the fun starts because you will see axes marked TT Kelly Works on them - I take it this was to ensure that people knew that the True Temper name was associated with Kelly quality and name recognition.