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Batt, James R. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 20, Number 4 (Fall 1974)

Baier, Joseph G.
Mathias Schwalbach: Milwaukee's master mechanic, inventor, and tower clock maker,   pp. 20-24


Page 22


  union. Above all, we find the
  products of his firm on nu-
  merous towers of churches
  and public institutes in Wis-
  consin. Mr. Schwalbach is a
  long-time member of the par-
  ish of St. Joseph in Milwau-
  kee, and he is a member of
  several Catholic organiza-
  tions.
  A picture of the clock manufac-
tory accompanies another refer-
ence to Schwalbach in Milwaukee
of To-day, The Cream City of the
Lakes, published in 1893.
  One of the best skilled me-
  chanics in Milwaukee is Mr.
  M. Schwalbach, manufactur-
  er of the Star church and
  tower clocks, models, etc. Mr.
  Schwalbach, who was born
  in Germany, where he learn-
  ed his trade, came to the
  United States in 1856 and
  five years later located in Mil-
  waukee. Since 1870 he has
  been established in business,
  and for a time at 1002 Ga-
  lena Street, removing six
  years ago to the building now
  occupied at 426 Ninth Street,
  which he owns and built. It is
  22x60 feet in dimensions, two
  stories high with basement,
  and made conspicuous by a
  tower and clock. Every facili-
  ty and convenience is provid-
  ed for all purposes of busi-
  ness, including a five horse-
  power s t e a m engine. Mr.
  Schwalbach manufactures to
  order large clocks for
  churches, towers, school-
  houses, public buildings, etc.,
  and executes work for all
  parts of the country. He also
  manufactures all k i n ds of
  small machinery, also large
  and small wood and metal
  models, and attends to repair-
  ing. He is popularly known
  throughout this section, and
  is the leading recognized rep-
  resentative of his line of busi-
  ness in the Northwest, having
  secured several gold medals.
  In the Industrial History of Mil-
waukee, published in 1883, on
page 150, along with a picture of
one of the Schwalbach movements,
is the following:
   Math. Schwalbach, Manufac-
   turer of Tower Clocks. 1002
   Galena Street. This clock is
   an improvement on Church
Despite the fact that he is most often
associated with his work in developing
the typewriter, Mathias Schwalbach
made many major contributions to the
art of manufacturing church and tower
clocks. (Photo courtesy of Elmer
Schwalbach.)
   and Tower Clocks. The in-
   vention greatly simplifies the
   construction of this kind of
   clocks, and correspondingly
   cheapens the price, and at the
   same time increases the reli-
   ability of the clock and dura-
   bility of the work. Any one
   can keep this clock in good
   order. The clock is seven feet
   high, four feet wide, and three
   and one half feet long. The
   striking part pulls a hammer
   from thirty to forty pounds;
   the quarter striking part from
   twenty to thirty pounds. Pen-
   dulum ball scales one hun-
   dred and twenty five pounds.
   Other references to the tower
clock and associated interests of
Mathias Schwalbach are to be
found in advertisements such as
that in the Erinnerungsblaetter aus
der Geschichte der St. Josephs-
Gemeinde, published in 1905 as a
part of the golden jubilee of the
congregation. In that advertise-
ment, on page 180, not only is
there a reproduction of a clock
movement, but in addition it is
stated that window frames and
ventilators are made to order and
automobiles are made and repair-
ed. Mathias had many interests
and specialities, and was even get-
ting ready for the horseless buggy.
  The most important item un-
covered was a copy of the Illus-
trated Catalog of M. Schwalbach
& Sons, Manufacturers of Church
and Tower Clocks obtained
through the courtesy of John
Loehrer of Milwaukee, a grandson
of Mathias. The catalog was print-
ed around 1907. Its twenty-four
pages describe the several clock
models available for purchase and
include testimonials certifying their
reliability as timepieces. Some fifty-
five clocks, identified according to
model type, are recorded by city,
state, and building, giving the
name of the pastor or building
owner at the time of installation.
Of the clocks listed, nineteen are
located in Milwaukee and suburbs;
sixteen are in Wisconsin outside
of the Milwaukee area; and twenty
clocks are to be found in ten ad-
ditional states, as far west as Ore-
gon, and as far east as New York
state. The listing shows the extent
of the work of this small manu-
factory, small in comparison to
the E. Howard and Seth Thomas
companies so well known to
horologists as tower clock manu-
facturers.
  The Schwalbach catalog de-
scribes the many innovative fea-
tures and special details associated
with each type of movement,
whether designed for time only,
for time and hour strike, or to
include a third train of wheels for
quarter-hour strike. According to
the catalog:
  The Star clock is built of the
  best material. The shafts are
  made of steel and are polish-
  ed. All gearings, wheels and
  pinions are cut gears. Every
  piece is made of the best ma-
  terial and is tempered hard
  where it is necessary. Three
  large brass wheels. The pen-
  dulum is 8 feet long. The
  clock pulls a hammer up to
  60 pounds for the hour strike
  on two or three bells, every
  quarter hour. The quarters
  on two bells it strikes as fol-
  lows: the first quarter it
  strikes one on each belL one
22


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