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The Ten Eyck Axe Manufacturing Company

The 1860 Census of the United States noted 2 brothers, Abram and Albert Ten Eyck, as “Axe Makers” living in the town of Cohoes, New York. Though Albert was only 19 at the time, Abram was 38, and had been listed as a “Blacksmith” in 1850. This showed some specialization over time, and Abram’s younger brother obviously gained an interest in the manufacturing of edge tools along with him. By the mid-1860s, the brothers were producing axes under the name “Ten Eyck Axe Manufacturing Company”, a facility that included 3 buildings on Courtland Street in Cohoes. The concern was funded primarily by the investment firm of Alden, Frink and Weston of the same city. Unfortunately, the investment firm went bankrupt in 1866, leaving the Axe Manufacturing Company short on funds, causing some missed payroll payments and an eventual 25% decrease in worker wages. This did not sit well with the men working for the company, causing a temporary end to production. However, the company was soon able to get back to manufacturing and in 1867 they released a 123-page illustrated catalog of axes, hatchets and other edge tools. The high-end line of axes for the company at the time was the “Excelsior” axe, a cast steel centerpiece advertised both in the catalog and in mainstream media. By the time the 1870s rolled around, the company was producing several lines of axes, some stamped with the Ten Eyck name using dye stamps from Metcalf’s Stencil Dyes of Boston, and was exporting their axes to as far away as New Zealand (via Dalgety, Rattray and Company). Unfortunately, on January 18th of 1873, the buildings of the Ten Eyck Axe Manufacturing Company on Courtland Street would all burn to the ground. The cause was noted as the use of an incendiary device, suggesting that foul play was at hand. The buildings were insured for $9,000, but the damage amounted to approximately $20,000 causing the collapse of the company by bankruptcy. To avoid a total loss, the brothers continued to honor the orders that had already been placed for their tools, but manufactured them from a separate facility. From 1873 until the end of 1875, Ten Eyck Axes and other edge tools were produced at the facilities of the M.H. Jones Tool Works and distributed by that concern’s agents. As the Ten Eyck brothers regained their footing, they established a new structure for rebuilding the company, and in February of 1876 they reincorporated the Ten Eyck Axe Manufacturing Company with a Capital of $30,000. The incorporators were noted as Abram Ten Eyck, Albert Ten Eyck, Jonas S. Ten Eyck (the brother of Abram and Albert who was noted professionally as a “Druggist” or pharmacist), and D.H. Clute, all of Cohoes, as well as George Carrigan of Bayonne, New Jersey. The new factory was on Saratoga Street in the “Lower Part” of Cohoes. The new Works consisted of a building 100 feet long by 32 feet wide, which contained a forge shop and a polishing shop, along with two wings that were 60 feet long each that housed a tempering shop and a blacksmith shop. The works were powered by a 60 Horsepower steam engine. The company employed between 40-50 men with a payroll of $1,200 that first year with a daily output of approximately 500 axes and edge tools. On May 3rd of the same year, the company registered a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office that included the Ten Eyck name surrounded by edge tools. Unfortunately, despite a good attempt at getting business started once again, including a dazzling display at the 1876 International Exhibition, the company was unable to turn a significant profit. In December of 1877 the 5 primary creditors of the company filed an injunction for bankruptcy to recuperate lost funds. At this point it appears that Abram and Jonas Ten Eyck had had enough of the axe manufacturing business. However, Albert pushed on, and in 1883, he assisted in incorporating the Ten Eyck Edge Tool Company in Cattaraugus, New York. The company was created with a modest capital of $20,000, and was headed by E.L. Johnson, President; J.L. Higbee, Vice President; H.E. Greene, Treasurer; L.H. Northrup, Secretary; Albert Ten Eyck, Manager; and William Francis as a Trustee. One may note the Francis name, as this was William Francis of the Francis Brothers Axe Company. At this time William was no longer a part of the Francis Axe Manufacturing Company, having sold his portion of that business to his brother George W. Francis that same year. The new company noted their intent to have their first batch of goods ready by September 1st and began manufacturing in July. The new shop was set up in a previously used space to save the initial start up funds, and was located in the old Snyder Mill in Cattaraugus. Their first year, the company noted a net profit of 4%. The Edge Tool Company moved forward with moderate success for the next few years, but in 1887 began to lose stockholders. Stockholder meeting notes indicated a push by a few stockholders to control the majority, and rumors persisted of a proposed move of the company to Findlay, Ohio. After numerous attempts and votes, the company decided against the move in September of 1887, and business continued in Cattaraugus until January 24th, 1890, when the factory was destroyed by fire. The company rebuilt the factory, and expanded slightly. In the 1894 catalog of the American Axe and Tool Company, an axe line named “A. Ten Eyck” is noted in the list of brands controlled by the company. The 1898 catalog mentions this line as well, and included a picture of a label with the name “A. Ten Eyck” on it. However, the Ten Eyck Edge Tool Company is not mentioned in the catalogs, nor is the company noted on letterhead listing the members of the combine. These instances are likely linked to a sale of the A. Ten Eyck line by Albert Ten Eyck while working as the manager of the Ten Eyck Edge Tool Company and not the inclusion of the company into the American Axe and Tool Company conglomeration. This linkage of the A. Ten Eyck line would result in the name being included in the Kelly Axe and Tool Company’s list of controlled brands that would pass on to the American Fork and Hoe/ True Temper Company in 1930, as the American Axe and Tool Company would officially merge with the Kelly Axe Manufacturing Company in June of 1924, resulting in the Kelly Axe and Tool Company. However, Albert Ten Eyck would continue with the Ten Eyck Edge Tool Company in Cattaraugus until June of 1896, at which point he would resign his position. He was replaced by Andy Keyes, and the company would quickly distance themselves from the Ten Eyck name soon thereafter. On August 31st of 1896 they were granted a court appointed approval to change the incorporated name to the United States Edge Tool Company, and would continue production under that name into the first decade of the 20th century.

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