Penn Hardware Company in Reading, PA

Here's what I could find out about the Penn Hardware Company, makers of our art deco doorknobs.
Penn Hardware was founded on Spruce St. in Reading, PA in 1877 by Charles Raymond Heizmann, who became the president of Penn Hardware, and his brother Albert Aloyeuis Heizmann, who became treasurer. Out of their plant, which covered a few acres, they began manufacturing builders' and specialty hardware of all kinds. The Penn Hardware company became known worldwide as quality manufacturers of door knobs and locks, exporting their products to Europe. The Penn Hardware Company purchased the Bright Lerch & Co. in 1883 on the Schuylkill Canal near Spruce St. and converted it into a factory and warehouse.

In 1896, the business was officially incorporated under the name of Penn Hardware Company and they started adding other metal productions, including larger industrial materials such as railroad wheels that weighed 350 to 700 pounds each. A nail department was added in 1898. And in the late 19th century the Penn Hardware Company was known as a leading key manufacturer, especially for hotels.

The company stayed within the Heizmann family for as far as I can find information on it. I can't find exactly when the Penn Hardware Company went out of business. In fact, there's little information that I can find past the late 1800s. My Penn Hardware Company door knobs are said to be from the early 1920s, but besides the art deco design and an internet consensus, I haven't seen actual proof of that. I've seen products, mainly door knobs, that people date into the 1930s and the sales receipt above is dated 1945, so the company at least lasted into the '40s.

9 comments:

  1. http://www.dorma-usa.com/About-DORMA/DORMA-Group-North-America/history/index,47,59.html

    Here is a little more history about Reading Hardware. They ceased doing business under that name in the 1950s, but it looks like they were bought out by what us now DORMA.

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  2. I Lived in a house in Swissvale,PA (near Pittsburgh)that was built in 1927. ALL of the locks were PENN and even they were (at that time) 50 Years old, They all worked perfectly!

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  3. i live in hamilton ON & am currently cleaning my PENN front entry mortise lock with a Patent date of Nov 5 1912. the inside mortise locks are all PENN as well & appear to be working fine, but i think i'm missing a part for the entry lock. and yes, i have 1 working skeleton key :-) thanks for the info!!

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  4. I have a PENN HARDWARE key about the size of a post office box key,
    I don't have a need for it if anyone collects PENN Hardware items you are welcome to contact me. email jerryp29@juno.com

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    1. I'm looking for Penn Hardware skeleton keys. Do you have any, or know where I can find them? Thanks

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  5. Could you tell me about a Tabacco cutter made? The patent say may 18 1886.

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  6. The Reading Artifacts Bank (5th St) recently acquired a large collection of Reading Hardware new old stock of door hardware and locks.

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  7. I have a penn front door lock ots pretty big along woth the out side handle and the inside crystal door knob. The lick its self was converted to a current deadbolt key lock. The mechanism has patented but the deadbolt pieces tongue that would lick into the door jam has on it PENN HARDWARE CO and then under it has READ NO PA. Im going to put them on craigs list. Anyone know a value?

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  8. sorry for the spelling errors. I did it from my cell and Iv fat fingers.

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