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Shelby Cycle Company


Manufactured in Shelby.

Received With Marked Comment
Even by Competitors.

Already Shipments Have Been
Made to Foreign Countries.

Factory Overrun With Orders,
and Already Have All the
Goods Sold They Can
Make This Year.

So starts an article that appeared in the April 10, 1896 edition of the Shelby Republican newspaper. The infant Shelby business was further described as follows:
In the Shelby Cycle Manufacturing Company, Shelby can boast of not only having Ideal Bicycles made, but also in having an Ideal Factory. The company is controlled by R. Philip Gormully, President; Thos. B. Jeffery, Vice President; and A. W. Gump, Treasurer and General Manager. The above parties have been in the bicycle business upwards of seventeen years, and as they were formerly associated in a business way the venture is not a new one.
Possession of the building was taken by The Cycle Co. last September, and already over three hundred hands are employed, and everything is in first class running order with the large out-put daily increasing.
Shelby Cycle Manufacturing Company - 1896
(Artist's Conception - Blackburn & Co., Dayton, Ohio )
The Shelby Republican Newspaper, April 10, 1896
The artist's conception drawing above (looking north) shows both the C. C. C. & St. Louis Railroad as well as the B & O. As can be readily seen, many liberties were taken...
The Shelby Cycle Co. building was located on the north side of Smiley Avenue between the B & O Railroad on the east and the Black Fork River on the west. The building location is shown in the vintage map section (at the bottom of this section of the 1896 Shelby map).
The arrangements have been completed so quietly that few, not seeing the inside of the factory then and now, would know of the great amount of work that has been accomplished and the immense outlay necessary to make a succesful bicycle factory. New floors were laid, building remodeled, a large stock of new machinery of latest pattern put in, line shafting, belting elevator, enameling ovens, boilers, artificial gas, electric light and steam heating plants and many other appliances, and all to be put in order in time to turn out goods for this season's supply.
The success of the factory was assured from the start, however, for although the plant was new, the work was in the hands of pioneers in the cycle business.

1000 Bicycles.
The first order received by our new Cycle Factory was for one thousand bicycles from Mr. Thos. Varney, of San Francisco, Cal. Mr. Varney is known as having the finest retail bicycle store in the world.
The Shelby Cycle Co. have also recently made a shipment to British Columbia.

Artificial Gas Plant.
The Shelby Cycle Mfg. Co., besides having their own electric light plant, have also their own artificial gas plant. This is used for brazing, annealing and enameling purposes, and can be used for illuminating when necessary.

Light Out of Darkness.
Railroad passengers and citizens of Shelby note particularly the brilliant display of electric light at the works of the Shelby Cycle Mfg. Co. On dark nights especially do the lights, streaming from the many windows, form a fairy picture of beauty and activity. It is nessary to work an extra force of men all night to meet the demand for Ideal Bicycles.

Scarcity of Houses.
On account of the scarcity of dwelling houses in Shelby, A. W. Gump has purchased thirty acres of land just back of his residence on Marvin Avenue. Houses will be erected on this ground especially, for the accomodation of workmen at the Cycle Factory. Forty-two lots have already been platted, and quite a number of houses are almost completed. They will be sold on long payments to parties who prefer to purchase instead of renting.
The Gump land purchase and more specifically the building lots mentioned in the article (above) included thirty four lots that are located on Jeffrey Avenue and an additional eight lots that faced West Smiley (on the north side). They can also be seen in the vintage map section. On the map it is labelled "Gump's Add."

The Shelby Cycle Manufacturing Co., are now making seven different styles of Bicycles. Their No. 1 Ideal, $75.00; their High Frame Ideal, $75.00; a 26 inch Diamond, $50.00; a ladies 28 inch Drop Frame, $75.00; a ladies 26 inch Drop Frame, $50.00; a 28 inch Diamond Frame, $50.00; and a 28 inch ladies wheel, $50.00. The Shelby Cycle Co., will not sell any wheels at retail at all, and all their retail trade will be through the hands of Seltzer & Steele who have the local agency. (see 1 bottom of page)

The following year the Shelby Republican newspaper produced an "Industrial Edition" and the following are selected portions from that edition.
The Shelby Cycle Manufacturing
Co., One of Shelby's Great
Labor Employing Concerns.

It is wonderful with what facility the American people grasp an idea and carry it into execution. The incentive of business is one of those uncontrollable elements which decide the course of all business transactions. This accounts for the rapid execution of any project, or the carrying out of any plans, the ultimate result of which will prove profitable for the projectors.
Perhaps in recent years there is no branch of industry which has had such abnormal growth, such huge expansion, such great development as the bicycle industry. It is now one of the great industries of the country, employing thousands of skilled workmen and representing many millions of capital. The product annually turned out is appalling considered from a standpoint of dollars and cents, and the need of that product by the human family so apparent that it can now be safely regarded as one of the fixed institutions of the land. Shelby has become justly famous in many ways, but in no one thing is our fame greater than in the line of bicycle making. Every Shelbyite is proud of the Shelby Cycle Manufacturing Company, an institution whose product is sold in nearly every mart of the civilized world.
Shelby Cycle Manufacturing Company - 1897
Artist's Conception - The Shelby Republican newspaper Industrial Edition, 1897
This institution was organized in September of 1895 and the first Ideal bicycles manufactured January 1st, 1896. The location of this great institution at this point is due to A. W. Gump and the Gurmelly, Jeffery Mfg. Co., of Chicago.
Mr. Gump, who had been in the bicycle trade in Dayton for eighteen years previous to coming to this city, had more or less business relations with the Gormully, Jeffery Mfg. Co. and at one of the cycle shows Mr. Gormully stated that if Mr. Gump found a factory his concern would take very largely of the stock, providing a medium grade wheel was manufactured to supply the increasing demand for a cheaper wheel than the Rambler. Shortly after this their present plant was secured and the manufacture of wheels begun. The first year's output consisted of 10,000 wheels and this large number of bicycles was completely sold out. This year the company has been turning out 100 wheels a day and under pressure is capable of making 200 bicycles every twenty - four hours. The company have on their payroll three hundred and fifty men, an item of much importance to any community whose prosperity is dependent on manufacturing enterprises.
The works are divided into eighteen departments as follows: enamelling, wheel building, hub and automatic machinery, frame filing, fork sides, frame building, brazing, tool room, pedals, lathe and machinery, polishing, nickeling, experimenting, assembling, buffing, and shipping, each of which is in charge of a competent foreman.

Shelby Cycle Company - Members of the Ideal Bicycle Assembly Department - 1896
Photo courtesy of Casey Kerr
If you would like to "see" the photo in greater detail, click on the photo directly above.
This is an extremely sharp photo and perhaps you may recognize an ancestor or two. If so, please contact us and we'll post your information on this page.
Albert Thompson, one of the best factory organizers in the country, is superintendent and Edmund Bury, a thoroughly skilled mechanic, assistant foreman. In this connection, we wish to say a few words about Ideal wheels, a product which has gained almost instant recognition from the public. Last year the factory did not get started until late in the season, but notwithstanding this fact their entire output of 10,000 wheels were sold without advertising. This fact alone is a monument to the worth of Ideal wheels. It stands out prominently as an argument for the superior merit of the Ideal which no influence can belittle.
Ideal wheels are medium priced machines. They range in price from $50.00 to $75.00 for adults and $35.00 up in juvenile. Without excepting the higher priced machines there is no better wheel made in the country than the Ideal. In workmanship, beauty of construction, symmetry, character of material used and finish, the Ideal wheel recognizes no superior - in fact it has none.
To those interested we suggest that they send to the Shelby Cycle Mfg. Co. for their '97 catalogue. (see 2 below)

Ideal Bicycle Advertisement c. 1900 - courtesy of Kim Heuberger
1. The Shelby Republican Newspaper, April 10, 1896
2. The Shelby Republican Newspaper Industrial Edition, 1897

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