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.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

History of Klein-Logan Co.

Klein-Logan Co. was a Pittsburgh, PA, manufacturer of tools for railroads, paving, blacksmithing, and masonry. The following is from the company's 1944 catalog.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE KLEIN- LOGAN COMPANY

Origin

On July 1st 1868, John C. Klein and Frederick C. Klein, brothers engaged in the manufacture of coal picks, hand shovels, pokers and other small iron items since 1856, took as a third partner Edward P. Logan and continued business under the firm name of Klein, Logan & Co. Because the business was located in Birmingham, at that time a suburb but now that part of Pittsburgh lying along the south bank of the Monongahela River, the Birmingham Tool Works was selected as a descriptive sub-title.

Development

Pittsburgh was not only a railroad center but also the outlet of the product of the western Pennsylvania coal fields, and picks soon became a major item of the new company's products. John C. Klein, the older of the brothers, had an active, inventive mind which he directed to the then most difficult problem in the manufacture of picks— the eye. In 1874 he was granted a patent on a machine for the forging of pick eyes which, while crude and complicated if judged by modern presses, was a definite step forward.

Although soon involved in law suits with local competitors in connection with the eye machine the new firm prospered. John C. Klein, the president, was in charge of operation; F. C. Klein, vice president, in charge of sales; and Edward P. Logan, treasurer, looked after finances. Progress, if slow, was uneventful except for a fire in 1884 which destroyed the plant. Rebuilding and resumption of operations was made possible by a fortunate banking connection, Mr. Logan having been elected a director and vice president of the Iron & Glass Dollar Savings Bank, founded in 1871 to serve the community of Birmingham. At that time it was customary for business men to serve as senior bank officers, giving some time each day to advising and supervising the whole time officers. Mr. Logan served more than fifty years as vice president, president and chairman of the board of the bank. This connection continued after Mr. Logan's death in 1930, a member of the firm replacing him on the board of the bank and the president of the bank serving on the board of the present company.

A Landmark

Sledges, wedges, crow bars, railroad track tools, mining tools and blacksmith anvil tools were early added to the list of products while shovels were dropped shortly after the introduction of natural gas. In 1876 the firm showed its complete line at the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia, the sledges and hammers displayed being polished over all instead of on the faces only, the usual commercial practice. The highest award was given when it was shown that the mirror-like finish was not a plating but only highly polished iron and steel. Several of these tools remain today in as perfect condition as when shown 68 years ago.

Incorporation

In 1891, J. C. Klein having retired from active business and wishing to be able to transfer his interest to his children, the firm was incorporated as The Klein-Logan Company. Up to this time a son of F. C. Klein had traveled for the company, covering the entire United States and selling to hardware wholesalers in the larger cities. The appearance of distributors in smaller cities made this no longer practicable and arrangements were made with Surpless, Dunn & Co. of New York, manufacturers' agents handling many non-competitive lines, to sell in the east and middle west. Later Louis Williams & Co. of Nashville took over sales in the south and much later the E. R. Palmtag Co. of San Francisco looked after the territory west of the Rocky Mountains. Dayton, Price & Co. of New York, handled most of the exports, especially in the Far East.

The Future

Throughout the years the company has remained in the hands of the original families, management and more than 99% of the stock being controlled by direct descendants of the founders. The youngest son of John C. Klein, the only son and a grandson of Edward P. Logan now manage the business; another grandson and namesake expects to rejoin when he returns from over-seas service. A granddaughter of F. C. Klein is assistant treasurer, one grandson is shipper and three others hold key positions in production. The policy established by the partners of concentrating on the making of a few tools of the highest quality is the policy of the present management. Although the outside of the building, as shown by the photograph, remains unchanged, constant changes are taking place inside. The tools themselves have changed little in appearance; better methods of manufacture to produce tools of higher quality is and will be our constant aim.

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