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Thread: Kelly Axe Mfg Co/Tool Co/Tool Works/True Temper

  1. #1
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    Kelly Axe Mfg Co/Tool Co/Tool Works/True Temper


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    I did this once already, it took me so long the website booted me out - now have to do all over -

    So here we go again.

    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 100% accurate timeline run down - but shoudl be pretty close :

    1875-76 - Old man WC Kelly gets things going - but not with axes at first
    1896 - moves to alexandria indiana (Kelly Axe and Mfg Co)
    1904 - moves to Charleston, WVa - Mfg Co and Tool Co names both used, some confusion here)
    1921 - buys out the AATCo
    1930 - bought out by AFHoeCo (now Kelly Axe and Tool Works)
    1949 - realinged to True Temper name
    1987 - Kelly Line sold to Barco Industries, Pa.

    So as you can see, lots of dates, names, places, companies, etc. Pretty interesting overall.

    Couple side notes, don't forget that Kelly made axes for other companies, such as hardware companies like Keen Kutter and Belknap. Also, dont forget the governmwnt, and railroads also, along with who know who else. And this doesn't include the Canadian line (Welland Vale) or Australia line, and I believe a UK line (havent looked into that yet). So, yes, at the time, perhaps the single biggest axe maker in the world, with more than 260+ lines available at one time. Not a lot of companies can say that now.

    Also, remember that Kelly bought AATCo, which gave them the rights to all those previous company names - which is where they diversified and made their money - off of other companies line. Pretty good business for them I am sure.

    So, let see a Kely Axe and Mfg Co example - which is also a WC Kelly Perfect and Black Raven none the less - pretty rare



    And then a Tool Co example -


    And then some Tool Works examples -



    Then like I said, they made axes for everyone -

    Railroad

    Hardware Companies


    Some familar lines :




    So as you can see, Kelly was IT back in the day. I salute them.

    Lets see some other info and pics, and stir up a little conversation. Did you see the rust on that Flint Edge? Time for some oiling!!! Got to go!
    Axes4Life

  2. #2
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    Sorry, but forgot to also post about how Kelly made other lines, such as Keen Kutter and Belknap, and then also sold their own lines in Keen Kutter catalogs, and other hardware catalogs such as :

    These two are from a 1930 Keen Kutter Catalog :



    And then from a 1951 Jensen and Byrd catalog :


    Sort of shows the dominance of this company, at least to me. PS - check out the prices per dozen. LOL.

    Discuss.
    Axes4Life

  3. #3
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    man those are nice! thanks operator!
    yeah, i noticed the price per dozen...man how things change.
    i actually have an old 'Falls City Kelly Works' that my father gave me back in june. it was his great uncles and had been sitting outside in AL for 15 years or so. it was so rusty i haven't bothered to clean it up. i got bored and did a little sanding on it and saw markings, so i decided to clean it up. i'll post picks on here in a couple of days after i'm done with it.
    the info that i have found out about it is that it has to be made between 1930 and 1949 by AFHoeCo. it's ground straight on one side and kinda screwed up, but it's still worth saving, for nothing else just because its so old.

  4. #4
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    Great old axes and the start of a great new thread.

    Howard

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    Everybody likes a showoff!

  6. #6
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    Some surprises

    On a whim I stopped at a local Goodwill to see if they happened to have any axes. They did, including a Kelly Works in very good condition, which cost me 10 bucks. Not the usual pattern. I took off the handle without damaging it, and weighed the head: 3 pounds 14 ounces. Then I soaked it in vinegar overnight and my biggest surprise was that it has a hardened poll. Some photos after the vinegar, haven't done any more cleaning up yet:



    A better photo for showing the length at 8" even:



    It's thin and sharp with good curvature and a gradual transition to the wider-than-usual poll.



    The poll looks like it was nicely beveled at the factory.


  7. #7
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    Do they keep the axes out of view or something? I never see axes, knives or saws of any kind at goodwill or salvation army out here.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-pig View Post
    Do they keep the axes out of view or something? I never see axes, knives or saws of any kind at goodwill or salvation army out here.
    The axes were behind a glass display counter at this Goodwill, along with other valuable (or dangerous) items. Had to ask to look at them. I also asked if they had any machetes, and was told they had a military machete there for the longest time, but he couldn't find it, must have just missed it. Later went back to this store and got a 1-1/2 pound axe I had seen, with a small US or JS mark, that I'm going to rehandle. That one cost me $4 (it was half off that day).

  9. #9
    Great post, thanks.
    That Milwaukee Road axe is sweet on so many levels. Very Jealous.

  10. #10
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    Steve - I have one exactly like that, but it is a VULCAN, not a Flint Edge. Looks just like it though.

    Oh, and then I forgot to mention one of the more popular lines for Kelly, the Registered Axe line - shame on me! Registered Axes all had their own registered/serial number on the axe head. Some of the heads were also dated, some where not. I have not been able to establish a timeline of the serial numbers, such as say numbers 10,000 thru 10,500 were made in 1931 and 1932, etc etc. Nor do I know how high up the numbers go. Here is an example :



    I have seen the Registered Axe logo on single bits and double bits, and I can't remember the highest number I have ever seen. I will have to look more into this.

    Thanks.
    Axes4Life

  11. #11
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    Operator....Great thread and Great collection.....Thanks for showing !
    Dusty One

  12. #12
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    My small contribution:




    Picked up the DB yesterday. The single is a hell of a chopper.

    Matt

  13. #13
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    Nice matched set.

  14. #14
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    So I see this and the Mann thread were pretty much a bust.
    Axes4Life

  15. #15
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    I wish I had more to contribute. When I look at the history of the conglomerate American Axe and Tool Company, I get a little glossy eye'd.

    Do I have this right?

    Kelly buys AFHoeCo, and incorporates the name True Temper to those lines. The True Temper brand is eventually bought out by AMES??? The Kelly line is bought by Barco, who entirely drops the brands established by Kelly????

  16. #16
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    No.

    American Fork and Hoe buys Kelly. True Temper then is incorporated into the axe division, which is seperate. Ames is a new name (buyer) eventually of AFH, and keeps the Kelly/True Temper name in the axe division until it is no longer viable, and sold to Barco, who now owns the rights to Kelly. They still produce a couple lines of Kelly axes.

    Hope it helps.
    Last edited by Operator1975; 10-10-2011 at 02:56 PM.
    Axes4Life

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Operator1975 View Post
    No.

    American Fork and How buys Kelly. True Temper then is incorporated into the axe division, which is seperate. Ames is a new name (buyer) eventually of AFH, and keeps the Kelly/True Temper name in the axe division until it is no longer viable, and sold to Barco, who now owns the rights to Kelly. They still produce a couple lines of Kelly axes.

    Hope it helps.
    Thanks. I was pretty screwed up there. Kelly bought AAT. AFHoe buys Kelly, becomes True Temper. Back on track.

    Looks like Barco still markets the Kelly Perfect and Kelly Woodslasher lines. Still made in USA. http://www.barcotools.com/catalog.htm I had no idea these were in production!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Operator1975 View Post
    So I see this and the Mann thread were pretty much a bust.
    heck no! lots of good info/pics.
    i just cleaned up an old mann and the kelly works i mentioned above (the kelly works is in BAD shape, but you can tell what it is), but cant post pics until the wife gets back from vacation in 1 1/2 weeks then i'll post pics (she has the camera). the mann turned out really nice IMO.
    i also have a brand new never used true temper tommy axe i'll post pics of.
    Last edited by bearhunter; 10-10-2011 at 01:53 PM.

  19. #19
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    I have a small double bit I picked up from a traders fair for $5! I'll get a pic of it up, it's a great little ax to carry in the woods.

    It's really neat to me that at one time Kelly was in Alexandria In. I grew up just around the corner from there. Thanks for sharing all the information.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Operator1975 View Post
    No.

    American Fork and Hoe buys Kelly. True Temper then is incorporated into the axe division, which is seperate. Ames is a new name (buyer) eventually of AFH, and keeps the Kelly/True Temper name in the axe division until it is no longer viable, and sold to Barco, who now owns the rights to Kelly. They still produce a couple lines of Kelly axes...
    ... and Ames still sells axes with the True Temper name, although I suspect that most (if not all) are now imported.

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