Klein Snapshot: January 8

Throughout 2021, once a month we’re continuing to bring you a Klein Timeline Snapshot: a look back in time at a specific year, looking at what the world was like in said year, and what was happening with Klein Tools.

This month’s year: 1857

Brown sugar: $.09 per pound
Bar soap: $.23
Illinois Central Railroad ticket: $.02 per passenger per mile

What was happening in the world: January 9, 1857, the United States experienced one of the largest recorded earthquakes in US history, the 1857 Fort Tejon earthquake. Occurring at about 8:20 a.m. in central and southern California, it had an estimated magnitude of 7.9 and ruptured the southern part of the San Andreas Fault for a length of about 225 miles. The earthquake is named after Fort Tejon because that was the location that experienced the greatest amount of damage.

What was happening with Klein Tools: While it wasn’t yet called Klein Tools, the foundation of the company came to be in 1857. That year, Mathias Klein, the founder of the company, started his first small business, a blacksmith shop in the back of the Brom Factory Building at 48 State Street in Chicago. In the early years of the shop, Mathias’ work was quite diverse. He used his skills as a locksmith, but also made hospital beds, mailboxes and ornamental iron fences. Records also show he worked on handles, flanges, stove pipes, bolts, bells, keys and signs. He used a forge to heat metal and a hammer and anvil to shape it, just as blacksmiths had done for centuries. He also repaired metal tools like chisels and steel hammers that were being used to build the city of Chicago.