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Manufacturers Index - F. Wesel Manufacturing Co.

F. Wesel Manufacturing Co.
Brooklyn, NY; New York, NY; Scranton, PA, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Metal Working Machinery

History
Last Modified: Dec 3 2017 5:23PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

This company, which primarily made small machines related to printing, is of interest because they made small printers' tablesaws that are of some use to woodworkers also.

Ferdinand Wesel, shown here in 1901, was born in Frankfurt-on-Main, Germany in 1846 and learned the trade of machinist. He came to the United States in 1866, at first working at a shipyard in New York. In 1868 he went to work as a machinist for R. Hoe & Co., a manufacturer of electrotyping and photoengraving machinery. He became interested in clockmaking and on his own time constructed two tower clocks, one of which won a prize upon being exhibited at the American Institute. His high level of skill as a machinist earned him recognition with his employer, particularly after he reassembled a very complicated European clock for Mr. Hoe after the builder of the clock died before it was finished.

In 1880 Wesel started his own business in a small loft on Elm Street in New York, manufacturing brass rules, stereotype blocks, galleys and wrought-iron chases. His business grew and in 1881 he moved to 178 William Street, and moved again in 1883 to 18 Spruce Street. His business burned in 1885 and relocated to 11 Spruce Street, eventually occupying all five floors of the building. In 1889, he incorporated the F. Wesel Manufacturing Company.

In 1892, Wesel purchased the old armory building at the corner of Cranbury and Henry streets in Brooklyn. He kept the space on Spruce Street as a sales showroom. He had been selling electrotyping, stereotyping and photoengraving machinery as an agent for the manufacturers, but determined that the machines could be improved upon, so he began manufacturing his own. By 1896, the Spruce Street facility had become too small, so he acquired 13,000 square feet of space at 82-84 Fulton Street.

 In 1899, he acquired another factory across from the armory building, making a total of 55,000 square feet. By 1901, his business had doubled compared to 1899 figures, and F. Wesel Manufacturing Co. was selling machinery world-wide, with branch offices in Germany and Great Britain.

A contemporary account of the company and Mr. Wesel, written in 1901, describes the business as "a monument of years of extremely arduous work. Everything is manufactured under Mr. Wesel's personal supervision. For his customers he is confronting and solving difficult problems daily. His factory is a cathedral to him, and to others it is a model of system, cleanliness and productiveness. He is a man in love with his business, jealous of its reputation and the quality of all the products that bear its name, and who has fairly earned the esteem of his competitors and customers and a world-wide fame for the excellence of his manufactures. The Patent Office records a long line of Mr. Wesel’s inventions, many of which have tended to advance the various arts in which his machines and appliances are used.”

A tablesaw we have seen was labeled as being made in New York, NY. They relocated to Scranton, PA in 1927. A European ecommerce site has a history of Wesel.

There is some connection between this firm and Royle John & Sons, in that machines have been seen that are identical except that some are branded Royle and others are branded Wesel.

Advertisements and Publications

This map of the New York City, Brooklyn and Jersey City business districts, printed in 1904, prominently displays an engraving of the F. Wesel Manufacturing Co.'s building and gives the address as 78-80 Cranbury St. It also indicates the location of the F. Wesel Manufacturing Co. with a large red arrow:

Information Sources

  • Thank you to Bill Taggart for researching much of the history on Wesel presented here!
  • Much of the history above was obtained from The Inland Printer and Lithographer, Vol. 27, p. 595-96 (1901).
  • Small cast iron miter trimmer with patent date of something like January 6, 1889 (which is not a valid patent date; we have found a matching patent from January 8, 1889). Also, a chute board and plane.
  • A small, incomplete tablesaw has shown up from this company. It is almost certainly a printer's tablesaw, designed to cut metal type.
  • A correspondent reports a large camera, labeled as, "Wesel Process Camera No. 243 / F. Wesel Mfg / Brooklyn, New York"
  • The "Open Library" project contains multiple catalogs and publications by F. Wesel Manufacturing Company.
  • We learned of the Royle/Wesel connection in an owwm.org forum discussion.