History of J.G. Braun Company by J.G. Braun III

While clearing out some paperwork, I found this history of J.G. Braun Company written by J.G. Braun III.

April 14, 1970

To whom it may concern:

Der Kanominn Jakob Gottried Braun was born in Muchengladbach Germany on February 28th, 1857 in the year of our Lord. From November 6th, 1870 through September 234d 1880, Kanominn received his Certificate of Performance and Expression of Service from the Duseldorf Masters der Kunschlosser seine Ornamentschmuck versehen (art metal smithing and ornamental décor).

In approximately 1884 of the year of our Lord, Mr. Friedrich Herman Braun sent his son to the United States to merchandise and sell the families “smithing” wares, of forged and wrought iron, bronze and copper ornamentation.

Mr. Jacob G. Braun started our firm on October 22nd, 1886 in Sioux City, Iowa. His original business was metal fabrication for ventilations, prison beds, ornamental fences, gates and railings, and markers for cemeteries and churches. Following the great Chicago fire of 1871, Mr. Braun’s business flourished because of the emphasis on “Braun’s superior Wrought Iron Mouldings,” for store fronts. The majority of Chicago’s building structures were built of cast iron elements, all of which melted in the Great Fire, and J.G. Braun found himself in an enviable position of supply source for the wrought-iron mouldings.

“My Wrought Iron Mouldings  are especially adapted for storefronts, stairways, stringers, elevator enclosures, fences, roller shelving, bookcases, door frames, and the like. Whoever uses the Wrought Iron Mouldings once will never use cast iron for such purposes again, as Braun Mouldings are light in weight, better looking, and much cleaner than cast iron; they never can break because they are made from the best stock and are indestructible, which makes them exceptionally good if work is to be transported from one place to another. Wrought Iron Mouldings are far superior to cast iron mouldings for electroplating as they contain no sand-holes, and are very easily polished. Some of the Mouldings can also be had in Bronze, Copper and Aluminum. We generally carry a stock of from 1000 tons, but advise Architects, Architectural Iron Works and Foundrymen to notify us some time in advance, in all cases, where they expect to use large quantities as only the most popular Patterns to the extent of about 800 Patterns are kept in stock. We also keep a full line of Wrought Iron Pickets, Ornamental Rivets, Nuts and Screws, to be worked with our patented Shear and Punch Machines. Braun Machines are made from forged steel, and unlike other cast machines, are indestructible, and give the best results.”

In 1890 Jacob G. Braun moved his business to 322-328 South Paulina Street, Chicago, Illinois. (Later, the city changed the address to 379 South Paulina Street, due to replanning of Chicago’s expansion). He continued in the fabrication and metal merchandising business until 1893, at which time he made arrangements with foreign exhibitors at the Columbian Exposition to purchase rolled steel shapes and tubings to enter the warehouse field to supply fabricators with material not available to them from domestic sources. These shapes were the forerunners of metal store-fronts in the United States. As only designated individuals or families could produce their “wares” in many European countries, Jacob took the opportunity to import the families line of ornamental items such as forgings in leaves, rosettes, hinges, baluster bars, steel handrails and component parts for railings.

J.G. Braun World Columbian ExpositionAt the 1893 Worlds Colombian Exposition, and the Louisiana Purchasing Exposition, J.G. Braun Company received the 3 highest awards for quality. Included with this endeavor, the Industrial Revolution of the period and the large influx of immigrants to the U.S., Jacob opened the New York City office and warehouse at 537-541 West 35th Street, New York.

In 1896 he expanded and moved the Chicago warehouse to larger facilities which were constructed by J.G. Braun Company at 609-621 South Paulina Street, Chicago, Illinois. In the same year, J.G. Braun was bestowed the Nurnberg Silver Medal of Excellence from Prince Leopold for Metal Shears and Punch Machines with wrought steel bodies.

In 1898 Prince Leopold awarded to J.G. Braun Company the Munich State Medallion and Diploma for Shears and Punch Machines having indestructible bodies and larger capacity.

In May 23, 1899 he received U.S. patents for Forged Steel Punch Machine with Shear, Universal Plate and Shape Iron Shear.

Records from Jacob’s “Koperbuch” (1897-1904), indicate by 1899 he tired of traveling by boat and train between Chicago and New York, and accordingly determined to sell some of his casting patterns along with a monetary loan to a customer, Mr. Julius Blum.

By 1904 J.G. Braun Company was the first and now largest supplier of hand-made and pressed wrought iron and brass ornaments, which became an important factor in the fixture business in the U.S.A. at the time, great regard was given to detail and form of the items.braun-steeple Company

In 1906 Mr. Braun assigned as agents for the Pacific Coast, the A. Merle Company, known as
Braun-Steeple and located at 515 Mission Street, San Francisco, California. They distributed J.G. Braun Company’s steel mouldings until World War I, at which time the business was temporarily discontinued due to the war.

In 1908 J.G. Braun Company build new warehouse facilities in New York City at the existing location.

On June 7th, 1909, Mr. Braun received a patent for “Bridge Rail” #1152, and “Stair Nosing,” #1157, 1165, 1167, and 1203.

In 1911 J.G. Braun Company entered the rolled steel door frame business for commercial and industrial buildings, which branch of the business was maintained until after World War I. Prior to the outbreak of war, the business received the Gold Medal at the International Hygenic Exp in Dresden. This phase of the operations was also discontinued as materials were not available at this time.

In 1912 Braun received the patent for transom bar “Invisible Hinge” and received the Underwriters Lab. Approval.

Combined with the sales of the plate and bar shearing machines, by 1917 J.G. Braun Company had sold and outfitted 250,000 store fronts to customers.

J.G. Braun Vintage CatalogMr. Jacob G. Braun conducted the business successfully until his death in 1921, at which time his son, Hubert J. Braun Sr. carried on the business.

In 1926 Mr. Hubert J. Braun Sr., with great foresight, entered the Aluminum Extrusion field and was the first major supplier of these materials to the architectural and building trade in the U.S. A. His arrangement was consummated with the Harper family in Pittsuburgh PA., the founders and owners of ALCOA Aluminum Company.

Following the stock market crash of 1929, Mr. Braun issued $333,333.00 in cash each to the three shareholders of the business, in order to protect the business from the collapse of the economy.

In 1941, with the beginning of World War II, Mr. Braun began handling sub-contracts for the war effort in the manufacturing of screw machine products, at parts for Republic Airplane Company. At the end of World War II J.G. Braun Company greatly increased their architectural aluminum stocks and became the largest supplier of Aluminum Extrusions from warehouse stock in the U.S.A. (ALCOA and Reynolds Aluminum).

In 1956 Mr. Braun purchased property in Skokie, Illinois and constructed a new warehouse and offices at 7540 McCormick Blvd.

J.G. Braun Vintage CatalogWith the advent of Mr. Hubert J. Braun Sr.’s death on July 29, 1963, his two sons, Hubert (Bert) J. Braun, Jr. and Jacob (Jack) Braun III, took over active management of J.G. Braun Company.

Mr. Hubert J. Braun, Jr., abruptly died in an automobile accident on Route 17 at Saddle River, New Jersey in May 1966.

J.G. Braun Company’s present operation, under the direction of J.G. Braun III, is the purchasing of specialty materials in Aluminum, Bronze, Merchant Quality Steel, Malleable Iron, Steel and Brass Stampings, and Aluminum and Bronze Castings. This material is purchased in mill quantities, processed into stock and sold in quantities as required on various buildings in accordance with architectural and contractor specifications. The material is cut or drilled to specifications for ease in installation.

Today, the bulk of J.G. Braun Company inventory consists of material stock which is exclusive to J.G. Braun Company. All castings are made from our own match plates and stampings are made from our dies. The majority of the rolled steel shapes, aluminum extrusions and architectural bronze extrusions are of our design and made from dies purchased by J.G. Braun Company.

You are welcome to visit our facilities in Skokie, Illinois at any time, so that you may see our operation.

Very truly yours,
J.G. Braun Company

J.G. Braun III

Village Hall
West Caldwell, New Jersey  07006


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