Please note

Because of the lack of published trowel and masonry tool histories, the information here is based on other sources that may be less reliable and certainly are incomplete. These include eBay and tools that I purchase myself that are the starting points for my research. I will write what I know as I learn it. If what you read here interests you, please check back often and look for revisions and corrections. Scanned catalogs are either mine or by Rose Antique Tools and used with permission, and are on Google Docs as pdf files. A few are links to other websites. Your photos and information are welcome. Please click on any picture to enlarge it. Comments are welcome, but any with links will be deleted as possible spam.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

History of Goldblatt Tool Co.

Goldblatt advertisement 1918 
Goldblatt Tool Co. has been a manufacturer and retailer of a full line of masonry tools in the Kansas City, Missouri area for over 100 years. Goldblatt sold directly to retail customers for decades, so many of their catalogs survived.

According to the Goldblatt Tool Company's version of its history, "In 1885 when a Russian immigrant named Henry Goldblatt, hoping to build a new life in the frontier town of Kansas City, opened the 'H. Goldblatt Tool Company' it was with the unbridled optimism that was sweeping the United States."

The real story, researched from Ancestry.com, other internet sources, and a Goldblatt family member, follows. Thank you to Andrew Goldblatt for his photographs.

Henry H. Goldblatt was born about July, 1855, as Henry Milner in Lithuania. Henry took the surname Goldblatt as a ruse to avoid conscription. According to the family, an adopted child could not get drafted in the czar's army. Henry, his wife Mary, and 3 children emigrated to the United States around 1882, and later had 2 more children.
Henry Goldblatt's hardware store, 1425 Grand Ave., around 1901
Henry began business in Kansas City, MO, selling second hand furniture. In the 1897 city directory, he owned a saloon at 1434 E. 18th St. In the 1900 city directory he owned a second hand store at 1425 Grand Ave. In the 1901 directory, the business description had changed to retail hardware, with the family living upstairs at 1425 Grand Ave. By 1906 the retail hardware store had moved to 1410 Grand Ave.

1909 Sanborn map, 1400 block Grand Ave.
1896 Sanborn map, 1434 E. 18th St.

Not until the 1909 city directory is Henry listed as having H. Goldblatt Tool Co. at 1402 Grand Ave. In 1910 the company issued Catalogue No. 6, which suggests that No. 1 was in 1904. Henry's fourth child, Louis I. Goldblatt (1887-1955) was a manufacturer’s agent with the same business and home address as Henry.

In 1922 Goldblatt built a distinguished brick and stone 2-story brick building at 1522 Walnut St., Kansas City. The street number has changed to 1520 Walnut St. The building is in a National Historic District, and is described on page 6 of this document.

The 1933 city directory lists Louis I. Goldblatt as president of Goldblatt Tool Co., and his older brother Philip G. Goldblatt (1878-1961) as vice president-secretary-treasurer. Henry died in 1934. The illustration to the right is from their 1928 catalog and is not identified but is likely a member of the Goldblatt family.



After World War II, Louis's son-in-law Alexander A. Levy (1914-2007) was president, Louis's son Melvin Lloyd Goldblatt (1922-2012) was treasurer, Philip Goldblatt was vice president, and Philip's son Norman F. Goldblatt (1908-1981) was secretary. The company moved to 1910 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO in 1949. An interesting aside is that Melvin left the company and moved to California in 1960, where he was bookkeeper for the rock band Jefferson Starship. Melvin Goldblatt obituary Alexander Levy obituary  Norman F. Goldblatt Ancestry.com

Goldblatt Tool Co. employees, November 1953
Advertisements and catalogs from 1960-1969 list Simon (Si) Kraft (1924-1990) as Sales Manager. Ronald G. Meyer was National Sales Manager of Goldblatt Tool Co. from 1969 to 1981. Mr. Kraft and Mr. Meyer co-founded Kraft Tool Co. of Shawnee, Kansas in 1981. Business Week 

Around 1963 or 1964, steel maker Bliss and Laughlin Industries bought Goldblatt Tool Co. from the Goldblatt and Levy families. In 1965 the company built a 200,000 square feet manufacturing facility on a nine acre site at 511 Osage Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas.


In 1982 Bliss and Laughlin changed its name to Axia Inc., and in 1984 a group of investors acquired Axia in a leveraged buyout. The new company sold Bliss and Laughlin Steel Co., leaving Goldblatt Tool Co. as its largest division.

Axia sold Goldblatt and another division to Stanley Works in 1991, and Stanley continued to operate the plant at 511 Osage Ave. Goldblatt’s market share declined after the sale, resulting in Stanley’s selling the division to FinishPro Tools of Lenexa, Kansas in 2006. In 2010 Goldblatt Tool Co. was sold again, to Hangzhou Greatstar Tools Co., Ltd. (HKGS) of Hong Kong, China, operating under Goldblatt Industries, LLC. Goldblatt press release YouTube video 2011 

Under Vintage Trowel Catalog Downloads is a high quality scan of the Goldblatt Tool Co. 1938 Catalog. It includes tools and clothing for brick masons, stone masons, cement workers, and plasterers. Due to the file size, it is broken into 2 downloads, pages 1 to 43 and pages 44 to 80. This is only half of the 160-page catalog. The rest is not scanned, including concrete molds, machines, and paint. More scans of Goldblatt catalogs are coming.

Norman F. Goldblatt 

1938 catalog

4 comments:

  1. Mark - awesome history here, thanks for digging into it so much! I actually work for an ad agency that helped Goldblatt with their complete relaunch after the 2010 acquisition, but we no longer work for them. If you didn't see it, we also put together this corporate story video for them back in 2011 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyn73vVSoAg), but didn't have nearly the history that you managed to dig up available to us. Very interesting that your research led you to realizing the company didn't actually start until 1909!

    Thanks again for the post!

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  2. My great-grandfather Henry Goldblatt was from Lithuania. They changed their name from Milner to Goldblatt in Lithuania, not the U.S., as a means of escape. Goldblatt was sold to Bliss & Laughlin in 1963 or 1964 or maybe 1965, but not 1962. Melvin was comptroller for the Jefferson Airplane, and I suppose later Jefferson Starship. This is the first I learned that they were sold again in 2010 to a Hong Kong firm.

    Andrew (Andy) Goldblatt

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  3. I was hoping I could hear from Mark or Kyle. Andyg498@cs.com
    -Andrew (Andy) Goldblatt

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  4. please call bruce about old drywall trowels and knives. i have started a museum and would like some help.thank you bruce 612 590 9069.

    ReplyDelete