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Heller & Brightly

Charles S. Heller (1839–1912) was born in Germany, and moved with his family to the United States in the late 1840s. He went to work for William J. Young in 1855, and became a partner in William J. Young & Co. in 1865. Charles H. Brightly (1817–1897) was born in England, arrived in the United States in the 1830s, and worked as a machinist in Philadelphia before going into partnership with Heller in 1870. Within a few years Heller & Brightly were said to have "done more than any other [firm] in this country of late years to increase competition in the trade, and to wake up the different makers to a sense of the many improvements that may be made in the instruments in common use." Heller & Brightly instruments were used in every state in the union, and in several foreign countries. The firm was incorporated in 1926, and remained in business until 1968.

Heller & Brightly was a traditional craft workshop. There were only a few employees at any one time, each could produce an entire instrument, and each was reasonably well paid. They produced some 100 instruments per year from 1870 to 1887. Annual production rose to 216 instruments in 1891, then dropped precipitously and remained at modest levels thereafter. Each instrument has a serial number, the first being #4400. Most Heller & Brightly instruments were ordered directly from the shop, with only a few sold in stores.

Ref: Robert C. Miller, "The Heller & Brightly Records," Rittenhouse 4 (1990): 43–55.

Collection:

Transit #5512
Transit #5740
Wye Level