Friday, June 29, 2012

The dissolution of D. F. Foley & Co.

Foley was a major name in the gold pen (that is, gold nib) industry for several decades. John Foley was the main player, but this note is about his son Daniel and his company, D. F. Foley & Co.

I was recently looking through issues of The Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review that are available online through Google Books. In vol. 23 (1891), there are a number of entries concerning the dissolution of D. F. Foley & Co., one of which also notes the company's founding date (February 1888) and date of incorporation (January 1891).

On August 12, p. 38, all seems to be going well. Four traveling salesmen for the company are mentioned by name:  Fred Warner, A. S. Canning, H. McGuire, and J. Andrews. On September 3, however, The American Stationer, p. 529, notes that "D. F. Foley & Co., manufacturers of gold pens, New York, have been attached", and on September 21, p. 28-d, The Jewelers' Circular reports: "The sheriff was last Friday placed in possession of D. F. Foley & Co.'s office, 180 Broadway under an attachment for $3,352 in favor of G. Treadwell. The claim was assigned to Mr. Treadwell by Robbins & Peacock and is for goods sold and delivered. An attachment for $982 in favor of Eberhand [sic] Faber which was issued against the same firm last Tuesday was satisfied the next day. These difficulties, we are informed, will speedily be adjusted as the few creditors are kindly disposed." Two days later, on p. 23-b, we are informed that the sheriff's sale has been adjourned from Monday until Friday, and that "John Foley has satisfied a judgment for $5,963.37 obtained against him June 28, 1890, by M. Noonan, and also one for $634.69 entered in favor of D. F. Foley on the same date." More detail appears in the same issue on  p. 28-f, where it was reported that: "Next Monday Deputy Sheriff Heimberger will sell the stock and fixtures of D. F. Foley & Co., 180 Broadway, under the following attachmedts [sic]: W. S. Hicks, $674; G. A. Treadwell, $3,052, and Eberhard Faber for $1,071. The judgments were for goods sold and delivered. last week the office of the company was closed by the sheriff and business was suspended. Mr. Foley started the business in February 1888, and incorporated it in January of the present year."

There are a few more notices of adjournments, and a note on October 14, p. 38, that Hugh McGuire, former vice president of D. F. Foley & Co. was now representing Aikin Lambert in the "far West and Pacific Coast" (a near-identical note also appears in the October 15 issue of The American Stationer, on p. 824). Then on October 28, p. 38: "The Sheriff last Wednesday, after repeated adjournments, sold out the stock and fixtures of D. F. Foley & Co., 180 Broadway. The proceeds of the sale amounted to $2,300."

What happened? Unfortunately, at this time Google Books only provides us with issues of the 1891 Jewelers' Circular from the beginning of August through the end of October. But we can speculate that D. F. Foley's troubles might well have begun on April 16 of that year, when a major fire destroyed their factory. The entry in the Annual report of the Committee on Fire Patrol, to the New York Board of Fire Underwriters, May, 1891, pp. 24-25, is as follows: 
"April 16, 1891—11.25 P.M.—Nos. 585 to 589 Hudson Street and Nos. 771 to 775 Greenwich Street, six-story brick building, occupied by Wood & Hughes, silversmiths; F. W. Seybel, hatter; New York Wagon Co.; H. I. Robinson, dining saloon; P. W. Wilson, office; Post Office station; [p. 25] Spiral Machine Co.; Calendar and Time Co.; Andrews Manufacturing Co.; Paper Glaze Co.; D. F. Foley, gold pens. The fire originated in the rear of second floor and extended throughout entire building, causing total destruction of building and contents; also extended to the following buildings: No. 591 Hudson and Nos. 777 and 779 Greenwich Streets, communicating with No. 593 Hudson Street, occupied by Robert Taggart as a furniture storehouse (the furniture and personal effects were the property of E. A. Swain, Mrs. J. Williams, Mary J. Jones, J. S. Francis, F. H. Armstrong, Shafter, Chisholm, Forster, Addy, Rhodes, A. P. Jersey, Leach, Lafabrique, Levy, E. A. Baldwin, E. L. Bush, R. C. Hoagland and E. Donnelly); No. 781 Greenwich Street, three-story brick dwelling, occupied by J. Eaton and G. Hoffman; Nos. 778 to 784 Greenwich Street, five-story brown-stone tenements; No. 583 Hudson and No. 90 Bank Streets, five-story brick tenement, occupied by J. Carmody, J. E. Doughty, Sam Burke and H. B. Versefelt; No. 92 Bank Street, three-story brick dwelling, occupied by Mrs. N. Townsend; No. 94 Bank Street, three-story brick dwelling, occupied by T. Fitzpatrick and M. J. Naughton; No. 96 Bank Street, two-story and attic brick dwelling; No. 98 Bank Street, two-story and attic brick dwelling; Nos. 584 to 588 Hudson Street, five-story brick, occupied on the first floor by C. L. Ryan as a tea store.

Patrol (Nos. 2 and 3) in service 16 hours and 30 minutes.
Covers spread, 79 stock and 23 roof.
Insurance, $304,175 ; loss, $238,375.30."
This remains, however, speculation: this entry doesn't make clear how much was lost, in stock or machinery (the loss on-site may have been total, but how much was kept there and how much at their Broadway showrooms?), nor does it tell us if D. F. Foley & Co. was adequately insured (an old post at Lion & Pen mentioned a couple of other New York City penmakers affected by fires, but not D. F. Foley). Surely there will be answers to many of these questions in the issues of the Jewelers' Circular and American Stationer from spring of 1891. Let us hope that they get digitized and made available soon!

ADDENDUM: the Trow City Directory for 1890 on p. 101 lists D. F. Foley & Co. at 23 Maiden Lane and 587 Hudson, with principals Daniel F. Foley  and Henry S. Aikin. The same entry appears on p. 91 of the 1889 edition. In the 1888 edition, Daniel F. Foley is not listed.

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