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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.
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.
The Kelly Axe Mfg. Co. was also called the Kelly Axe & Tool Co. The COPPER KING brand was one of the brands used on both axes and scythes. The labels used to identify FALLS RIVER axes and hatchets as well as RED ROVER axes and hatchets were quite similar and both brands were also sold with the distributors names conspicuously displayed. 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. L Antique TRUE TEMPER ANNIVERSARY KELLY WORKS Single Bit Jersey Pattern AXE. $ shipping. Ending Mar 4 at AM PST. Top Rated Plus Brand: True Temper. VINTAGE-TRUE TEMPER "KELLY WORKS" HAND MADE-SINGLE BIT AXE AX HEAD-NICE ORIG. Ending Mar 1 at PM PST. Brand: True Temper. True Temper Kelly Works Flint Edge Double Bit Axe - Head Only.
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. 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. 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. By G. Some opinions suggest that the Kelly Axe Mfg. Perhaps Kelly was solicited in regard to joining but declined. 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.
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. 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.
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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.
Perhaps it was the most important part. Many of the patents related to axes in the late s and early s were for machines that modified or improved the methods of production. Nevertheless the end products, even when of the same basic design, varied slightly.
The three considerations were pattern, weight and finish. The choice of finish and brand helped to facilitate the sale of axes to customers with varying preferences when, in fact, the end products were substantially the same. The heads were designated by weight as well as pattern and finish and axes were frequently sold with those three considerations being of major concern.
The Kelly Axe and Tool Company, at one time the largest ax manufacturer in the world, operated in Charleston for nearly 80 years. Founder William C. Kelly (-) began making axes in Kentucky in and later moved operations to Indiana. Drawn to Charleston by the area's transportation facilities and abundant natural gas, Kelly Axe. Oct 26, Kelly Axe Mfg Co/Tool Co/Tool Works/True Temper Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum but i dont think the dating via ridges has not quite been nailed yet. I read a thread about it the other day, and off the top of my head i THINK the ridges were patented in something like or (off top of head here). early Kelly Axe co.
In regard to finishes, manufacturers offered to finish their axes in a number of ways, some of which affected the overall price. The means of identification also varied from the early simple stampings to etchings to more detailed stamped markings to paper labels.
In the catalogs distributed by the larger manufacturers the options were listed. In some catalogs it was actually indicated which patterns could be ordered with what choices of brands and finishes. Kelly, like many other manufacturers, offered similar purchasing options.
Of course such choices were based on purchasing minimum quantities and wholesalers would order a wide variety of axes in different weight groupings.
It appears that in many cases the end result was that the axe or hatchet was painted whatever color was ordered.
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. 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. Couple examples - So Kelly was able to stay in business somewhat longer than most axe makers - they made it until when the HQ was moved to Cleveland and the Charleston operation shut down. This marked the end of a great run overall for this axe line that is widely known not only in the US, but also in Canada Wellland ValeAustralia, and I am sure to whatever degree in south america.
The rights to the names of the line were sold to Barco Industries inand they still produce a couple lines of Kellys. They are in Reading, Pa. Obviously they made hatchets - Here are a couple examples from the 70s. Quality no where near the older lines. Kelly made many different hardware lines - Keen Kutter being one of the most popular.
Most are familar with perhaps the 2 most widely known lines of axes out there - Flint Edge and Kelly Perfect.
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The Flint Edge line seems to be popular in numbers overall, while the Perfect line is also popular, and highly sought after. The Kelly Perfect line incorporated single bits, double bits, hatchets, hammers, and other varous tools besides axes.
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And let us not forget one of the most sought after Kellys - the Kelly Perfect Jersey. And then the Flint Edge line. As stated, Kelly made lines for all needs, including the RR. Here are a couple Flint Edge RR lines. This axe, with its huge imprint on the axe head of the Raven, holds some mystique in the axe world today. When we look at it - we see the imprint, the fine work of the logo, and think, how could someone swing that into wood?
Yet it was a popular lline in its day - and usually highly sought after. The Black Ravens will have various wording on the imprint, which will help you to date them. Also, sometimes it will say True Temper on the back - giving you a better feel for how old the piece is. This is one of the more unique lines in the axe history world - Kelly had a line where each axe got its own registered number.
This was seen on double bits and single bits. I have been searching trying to find a link between registered number, and year of manufacturer.
None has been found that I know of, and I have no idea if it even exists.
Kelly Axe became part of American Fork and Hoe Company in July In , the company changed its name to True Temper, the brand name long used for its products. Despite name changes, Charlestonians continued to refer to the large operation as Kelly Axe. True Temper's Kelly works declined after the mid s and closed on May 28, Vintage Kelly Flint Edge double bit axe, 11 1/2" long. $ shipping. Vintage FS Axe, Kelly Axe & Tool Co Charleston, W VA, Double Bit, Forest Service. Ending Today at PM PST. Kelly Axe & Tool Works Double Bit Axe. Nice vintage 6 Lb. Kelly Standard Firemans axe. $ shipping. New Listing VINTAGE LEGITIMUS COLLINS CO. HARTFORD BRUSH AXE. Oct 11, One of the major players, if not THE major player in axe history, Kelly has defiently made a place for itself it axe lore. Here is a quick, perhaps not accurate timeline run down - but shoudl be pretty close: - Old man WC Kelly gets things going - but not with axes at first. - moves to alexandria indiana (Kelly Axe and Mfg Co).
I wonder if a true axeman really even cared about the number LOL. WellI hope this helped to shed a little light on the largest axe maker the world has ever seen.
It is a fascinating company, one with a long timeline, twists, turns, bumps and bruises. If I did please let me know. Hope you enjoy. Post a Comment. Ok Ok I know, lets see some pics. Here is an example of the Kelly Mfg Co name - And then here is an example of the Kelly Axe and Tool Co name being used - 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?
So now that the timeline is over, lets look back at some of their products. Older hatchets - They also made products for hardware companies as most of the axe manufacturers did - Kelly made many different hardware lines - Keen Kutter being one of the most popular.
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