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.