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: 1918
Women’s linen skirt: $1.98
Elgin Creamery Butter: $.49 per pound
Bissell Vacuum Sweeper: $10.50
What was happening in the world: The people alive in 1918 were experiencing similar circumstances to what we are today, as this week in 1918 marks the first documented case of the Spanish flu. U.S. Army mess cook Private Albert Gitchell of Fort Riley, Kansas, received the first diagnosis of the 1918 influenza pandemic, or the Spanish flu as it was also called. This pandemic lasted over two years, infected 500 million people, a third of the world’s population back them, and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million people.
What was happening with Klein Tools: 1918 was a year of both great highs and great lows for Klein Tools. First the highs: fully embracing its role in assembly line era, the company was experiencing massive growth and had multiple manufacturing facilities. Increased capacity and improved efficiency of facilities meant that by 1918 Klein Tools, or as it was then called, Mathias Klein & Sons, Incorporated, was producing more than ever. But with the highs also came lows: Sept. 28, 1918 marked the passing of Klein Tools founder Mathias Klein at 92 years old. Until the end, Mathias was dedicated to the company that he built, still occupying his desk and working his regular shift every day. People even said that he was so devoted that he only left Chicago twice during all his years in business. Though his passing was sad, he left behind a large, pioneering company with exceptional promise to his two sons, John and Joseph.