Western Wheel Works

Western Wheel Works was a Chicago bicycle company started by Adolph Schoeninger in 1866. It was one of the largest bicycle makers in the world.[1] In 1899 it joined a trust which controlled 95 percent of the bicycle manufacturing market.[2]

Western Wheel Works
IndustryManufacturing
Founded1866; 156 years ago (1866) in Chicago, U.S.
FounderAdolph Schoeninger
Headquarters
ProductsBicycles
Number of employees
1500

HistoryEdit

 
1875 WTW ad

In 1865, Schoeninger and his partner F. Westermann started out manufacturing toys and other novelties under the name Western Toy Company. The factory burned down in 1866.[3] In 1866 Western toy Works took over another factory which produced toy and baby carriages.[4] The Western toy Company specialized in toy wagons.[5]

The toy company operated until the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.[6] By 1872 Schoeninger obtained financing from European banks and rebuilt.[4] In 1887 The Western Toy Company purchased the Vergho Rubling Co., a former toy dealer.[7]

The company began making safety bicycles bicycles in the late 1880s, under the Crescent name.[5] It also manufactured tricycles and children's bikes in 1890.[8] By 1890 it was among the largest bicycle manufacturers in the world.[9] It is known as a pioneer in the mass production of bicycles: rather than machining bicycle "parts such as hubs, sprockets, chain guards, fenders, and rims", it employed the much faster process of stamping them,[10] thereby more than doubling the output of the factory in 1891.[11]

In 1893 Schoeninger transferred his ownership of the company to his two sons-in-law and he started a new company called the Home Rattan Company.[4]

By 1897 the company employed 1,500 people and produced 350 bicycles a day.[4]

American Bicycle Company (1899-1903)Edit

In 1899 the company joined a trust which was set up to control the bicycle market in the United States. Forty-two factories were part of the trust; the major barrier to organizing it was the manufacturer of rubber tires. It was decided that tires would be purchased from the "Rubber King", Charles R. Flint.[12] The trust which formed under the name American Bicycle Company only lasted a few years. Historians have not determined why the company failed but they have several theories. One idea was that the company was poorly organized, and another theory is that the various manufacturers involved in the company had different objectives. After the breakup the many different companies went back to competing.[13]

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Crescent Wheels for 1899". Birmingham Age Herald. 22 November 1898. Archived from the original on 11 December 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  2. ^ "Only One Bicycle Trust". Daily Times. 21 May 1899. Archived from the original on 11 December 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  3. ^ La Touche, Royal L. (1 January 1892). Chicago and Its Resources Twenty Years After 1871-1891 A Commercial History Showing the Progress and Growth of Two Decades from the Great Fire to the Present Time. Chicago Illinois: The Chicago Times Company. p. 143. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Unrivaled Chicago. Chicago and New York: Rand McNally and Company. 1897. p. 69. ISBN 978-0484513128. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  5. ^ a b Hounshell, David A. (1984). From the American system to mass production, 1800-1932 : the development of manufacturing technology in the United States. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-0801831584. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  6. ^ Moses, John (2010). Biographical dictionary and portrait gallery of the representative men of. Chicago Illinois: The Lewis Publishing company. p. 521. ISBN 978-1149752647. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  7. ^ "Heavy Failure". Decatur Daily Review. 11 January 1887. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  8. ^ "Boys and Girls". Fort Wayne Weekly Gazette. 14 August 1890. Archived from the original on 11 December 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  9. ^ "Cycling Chicago". Philadelphia Inquirer. 27 July 1890. Archived from the original on 11 December 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  10. ^ Dodge, Pryor (1996). The Bicycle. Paris: Flammarion. p. 162.
  11. ^ Tatarsky, Daniel (2016). The splendid book of the bicycle. London: Portico. ISBN 978-1910232569. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  12. ^ "The Bicycle Trust". Cincinnati Commercial Tribune. 29 July 1899. Archived from the original on 11 December 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  13. ^ Epperson, Bruce D. (1 November 2011). "'The finances stagger these fellows': the Great American Bicycle Trust, 1899–1903". Taylor Francis Group. Archived from the original on 26 January 2022. Retrieved 26 January 2022.

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