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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

History of Charles H. Besly & Co.

Charles H. Besly & Co. was a manufacturer of foundry molding tools at the turn of the 19th century, with a factory in Beloit, Wisconsin and store in Chicago, Illinois. The company made and sold metal-working tools and machinery, eventually specializing in taps, dies, and grinders.

The following obituary appeared in The Iron Trade Review, 28 Jan., 1909:


Charles Howard Besly, whose death on December 31 last [1908] was noted in The Iron Trade Review of January 7, was founder of the firm of Charles H. Besly & Co., Chicago. He was born in Milwaukee, on June 16, 1852, and had been a resident of Chicago since 1863. He was educated in the high schools of that city and started his business career with Marshall Field & Co. In 1873, he became manager of the Bergen Tool Co., Batavia, Ill., and traveled extensively.  He also was a broker of machinists’ supplies and opened a small store on Lake street, near Clark, Chicago, in 1873. In 1881, the firm of Charles H. Besly & Co. was established at 175 Lake street, being composed of Charles H. Besly and David J. Kennedy. In 1886, Mr. Kennedy retired from the business and the business has since been conducted by Charles H. Besly. In 1891, the business was moved to 10 and 12 North Canal street, where it continued to grow until 1903, when it moved to its own building at 15-21 South Clinton street, where the business is now conducted. In 1886 the Beloit factory was established in a small way for the manufacture of die stocks. This business grew and later its specialties were developed, including Besly disc grinders, Helmet temper taps, etc. At the present time, it occupies its own buildings at Beloit, Wis. The business was left in a strong physical and financial condition. Charles H. Besly & Co., Chicago and Beloit, will be continued as heretofore, under the direction of Edward F. Welles, his nephew, who has been associated with the company for the past 22 years and since 1896 as general manager.

The 1897 Besly Catalogue D is on Google Books, although erroneously labeled as 1908.
Besly advertisement 1914 

Besly molder's square trowel

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