Shapleigh Hardware and Simmons Hardware Co's Cutlery


Augustus Frederick Shapleigh was born in 1810 and was employed in a retail hardware store at the tender age of 14.

Edward Campbell (“EC”) Simmons, born -in 1839, was employed in a wholesale hardware store at the age of 17. The story of the achievements of these two hardware clerks reads like a romance.

Young Shapleigh, as Junior Partner of Rogers Bros. & Company, wholesale hardware dealers in Philadelphia, brought to St. Louis, in 1843, a sufficient stock to open a branch of that company under the name of Rogers, Shapleigh & Company. In 1847, the firm became Shapleigh, Day & Company, continuing until 1863, when Mr. Day retired and the firm became A. F. Shapleigh & Company.

In 1846, Mr. Simmons' parents moved to St. Louis, he being a lad of seven. At 17, he was employed by Child Pratt & Company, wholesale hardware. In 1859, he went to work for Wilson, Levering & Waters. He became a partner in that firm six years later, after the death and retirement of other members of the firm, he reorganized in 1869 as E. C. Simmons & Company.

In 1864, the Shapleigh firm adopted DIAMOND EDGE as the brand for a line of superior tools and cutlery, which immediately became popular with the trade they served.

In 1870, the Simmons firm chose KEEN KUTTER as their brand for a line of high grade tools and cutlery.

There being no laws whereby these brands could be trademarked, both firms were compelled to await the action of Congress before application for registration could be filed. The slogan, "Diamond Edge is a Quality Pledge", is said to have first been used in 1909. Diamond Edge tools were the first line of edge tools (knives, razors, axes, cutlery, etc.) in the United States to be covered by a jobbers trademark.

Shapleigh's first catalog, a small paper-backed price book containing no illustrations, was issued in 1853.

In 1880 both firms published large, well bound General Catalogs, which, with the sole exception of one issued by Markley, Alling & Company of Chicago, were the first of this type to make their appearance in the Hardware Trade of the United States.

Prosperous years followed for both firms, their trade areas steadily expanded and in a few years the combined sales of the two companies attained so large a volume as to firmly establish St. Louis as the largest distributor of Hardware in the Nation.

In 1898, Mr. Simmons retired, as did Mr. Shapleigh in 1901, both having the satisfaction of seeing the businesses they had built carried on with constantly increasing strength and influence. The death of Mr. Shapleigh occurred in 1902, that of Mr. Simmons in 1920.

As the result of negotiations in the spring of 1940, Shapleigh Hardware Company purchased for cash, all the assets of Simmons Hardware Company, effective July 1, 1940, and the proceeds of the sale distributed to the stockholders of the latter company, whose charter was surrendered. At this time the Keen Kutter and Diamond Edge trademarks were joined. Other items were now marked Shapleigh' Keen Kutter, instead of E.C. Simmons Keen Kutter.

Shapleigh Hardware Company occupied all of the buildings used by Simmons Hardware Company at 9th and Spruce Streets in downtown St. Louis.

A majority of the Simmons' personnel became associated with Shapleigh's. All Simmons' trademarked lines are continued and the business, thus greatly enlarged, operated smoothly and successfully under Shapleigh management.

In 1955, the directors sold Shapleigh Hardware Company to Curtis Mfg. Co which continued to operate the business under the Shapleigh Hardware name until closing in the early 1960's. Val-Test Hardware Company of Schaumburg, Illinois owns the rights to the Keen Kutter and Diamond Edge logos today.



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