Collection ID: M.58

Collection context

Summary

Creator:
Chase Brass and Copper Company
Date:
1930-1981
Abstract:
The Chase Brass and Copper Records contains various professional documents regarding the Chase Brass and Copper Company. The collection is many composed of Company advertisements sent to customers and vendors detailing new products. Also represented are various employee bulletins, including Chase News, as well as photographs of company products and showrooms. The collection also contains various newspaper articles on company history. Interesting to note is a series of Chase Cartoons, as well as multiple bargaining contracts with the companies Union.
Extent:
6 Linear Feet and 10 legal manuscript boxes and 2 scrapbooks
Language:
English .

Background

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Scope and Content:

The Chase Brass and Copper Records contains various documents from []. The collection is divided into several series. Employee bulletins includes various materials distributed to employees, including Chase News and Chase Centaur. Photographs (of products) includes various photographs of Chase showrooms and products. Chase E-Awards contains documents regarding the E-Award Chase Brass and Copper received due to their war production efforts. Administrative History and Newspaper Clippings contains various professional documents, including company letterhead and wrapping paper. Also represented in this series are floorplans and other office ephemera. Other Publications include various documents distributed by the company, including pamphlets and books written by outside sources about the company. Chase Products includes product catalogs, advertisements, and brochures meant to advertise Chase products. Lastly, Barbara Endter research files contain various notes and documents collected by Endter while researching Chase Brass and Copper Company for her publication.

The Chase Brass and Copper Records contains various professional documents regarding the Chase Brass and Copper Company. The collection is many composed of Company advertisements sent to customers and vendors detailing new products. Also represented are various employee bulletins, including Chase News, as well as photographs of company products and showrooms. The collection also contains various newspaper articles on company history. Interesting to note is a series of Chase Cartoons, as well as multiple bargaining contracts with the companies Union.

Biographical / Historical:

Chase's history began with the Waterbury Manufacturing Company, incorporated in 1876 when a group of industrialists bought the assets of the bankrupt U.S. Button Company. This was the third company to bear the name Waterbury Manufacturing. Augustus Sabin Chase was the treasurer for the new company, becoming president a few years later. Waterbury Manufacturing produced buttons, umbrella components, upholstery trim and other metal items. Augustus S. Chase died in 1896 and was succeeded as company president by his son, Henry S. Chase.

The Chase Rolling Mill, owned by Waterbury Manufacturing Co., was built in 1900 to supply brass to Waterbury Manufacturing. Nine years later, Waterbury Manufacturing purchased the Noera Manufacturing Company, a Waterbury company known for its oil cans. The Noera division of Chase produced oilers, tire pumps, grease guns and sprayer. In 1910, construction began on the mile-long Chase Metal Works plant, built in the Waterville section of town. Chase Rolling Mill Company and Chase Metal Works, Inc. were merged into the Chase Companies, Incorporated. Their principal product was brass, copper and bronze sheet, rod, wire, tube and fittings. The Waterbury Manufacturing Co., located on North Main Street, continued as a division of Chase and served as the principal fabricating division. The success of the business led to the construction of a new office building on Grand Street for the Chase Companies. Designed by nationally-renowned architect Cass Gilbert, the new building was part of a larger plan of development by Henry Chase, who sought to make Waterbury the most beautiful city in the country. Chase died of appendicitis in 1918, a year before his company's office building was completed. His brother Frederick succeeded him as company president.

The Chase Companies expanded rapidly during the 1920s, opening warehouses on both coasts in 1921 and numerous cities throughout the country soon after. In 1927, Chase purchased the U.T. Hungerford Brass and Copper Co. In 1929, the Chase company's third brass mill was built to serve their mid-western brass and copper market. Named the Babbitt Road Plant, the new factory was located in Cleveland, Ohio and produced a general line of brass and copper rod and tube. Chase became a subsidiary of Kennecott Copper Corporation, the world's largest copper producer, in October 1929. The Chase family retained operating control of their business. The company was renamed Chase Brass and Copper Company, Incorporated in 1936, adopting the name of their New York sales office. Henry Chase's son, Rodney, initiated the Chase specialties line in the 1930s, hiring designers to create chrome and copper house wares using existing manufacturing equipment. The Chase specialty items were an affordable and popular alternative to silver products and today are highly collectable by lovers of the art deco style. The specialties line was discontinued with the advent of World War II.

During the war, the Chase factories in Waterbury were devoted to war production, as were nearly all Waterbury factories. In addition, Chase executives and technicians were hired by the U.S. government to build and operate a war-production facility in Cleveland near the Babbitt Road Plant. Chase purchased the factory from the government after the war and renamed it the Upson Road Plant, using it for the production of brass and copper sheet. In 1947, following a factory strike, the Chase Rolling Mill Company was merged with the Metal Works plant in Waterville, and the Rolling Mill became a warehouse.

The Waterbury Manufacturing Company plant was closed on April 1, 1958. In 1962, the Chase headquarters were relocated to Cleveland. The company stated a desire to be closer to their prime market area, the Midwest. A gradual departure from Waterbury followed over the course of the next fourteen years, with employment at Chase in Waterbury dropping from more than 2,000 workers in 1962 to just under 800 workers in 1974. In 1967, the company research unit was relocated to Cleveland and the rhenium product line was moved to a factory in Solon, Ohio. (Rhenium, as a metal powder, was used in the production of high-temperature alloys; Chase Brass and Copper was the only domestic producer of rhenium in 1965). Chase closed its Waterbury factory in 1976 after two years of bitter labor disputes. Today the company is headquartered in Montpelier, Ohio, manufacturing Blue Dot brand brass rods.

Processing information:

The Mattatuck Museum acknowledges that this specific collection include photographs in the employee bulletins that reflect various forms of oppression, including but not limited to offensive and outdated language or negative stereotypes. In order to uphold the principles of free access to our collections, these materials are presented in their original and unaltered forms for research and study to address and confront the racist realities of American history and inform our present moment. By providing online and physical access to these historical documents and objects, the Mattatuck Museum does not endorse any attitudes, prejudices, or behaviors depicted in them. Please let us know if you find materials that may be missing a content warning or if you have suggestions for how we can improve.

Indexed Terms

Subjects:
Brass industry and trade
Places:
Waterbury, Connecticut

Access

LOCATION OF THIS COLLECTION:
63 Prospect St
Waterbury, CT, USA
CONTACT:
(203) 753-0381
scrawford@mattmuseum.org