BEGAN MORE THAN200 YEARS AGO
Since 1819, Jacob Bromwell® has been artfully producing the world's best flasks, kitchenware, and housewares.
Jacob Bromwell® designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes best-in-class flasks, kitchenware, and housewares, while consistently delivering the finest quality, craftsmanship, and service. Established in 1819, Jacob Bromwell® holds the distinction of being the oldest housewares company in the United States, and is the oldest known manufacturer of tin, stainless steel, and copper products in North America. As one of the world's oldest brands, the Jacob Bromwell® name is deeply rooted in tradition, history, and authenticity. Even our logo is our founder's actual signature, made with his own hand. At a time when all major housewares companies have moved their production entirely offshore, Jacob Bromwell® remains committed to supporting American workers, directly providing over 35 full time jobs to factory workers both domestically and abroad. The company continues to manufacture the majority of its products in the United States, with any products produced overseas made to exacting American standards.
A STORY OF SUCCESS
Our storied history dates back to 1819, when Jacob Bromwell® became the first housewares company in the United States.
Jacob Bromwell founded the eponymous housewares company that still bears his name today during America's first major financial crisis, the Panic of 1819. James Monroe was the President of the United States. A mere 30 years earlier, at the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787, 38 delegates ratified the U.S. Constitution. We had yet to invent the light bulb, the telephone, the automobile, or even electricity. The Union had only 21 states, and the Land Run of 1889, which opened the Oklahoma Territory to settlement, was still 70 years away.
During this period, frontier entrepreneur Jacob Bromwell emigrated from Baltimore, Maryland, to a quaint Ohio hamlet coined Cincinnati, carved out of the virgin frontier forest. Mr. Bromwell, a veteran of the War of 1812, drifted down the Ohio River on a flatboat with a handful of wire looms where he was prudently able to jumpstart his entrepreneurship during the Panic of 1819. He called his business The Bromwell Brush Manufacturing Company. Cincinnati developed to become the "Queen City of the West," and as the city flourished, so did Jacob Bromwell's wire-goods business. Covered wagons, flatboats, and steamboats embarked on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers delivering goods in a rapidly growing new nation.
The California Gold Rush began in 1848. During this new era, Americans caravanned to the West with their Jacob Bromwell® popcorn poppers, flour sifters, and frying pans. Years later, when the Civil War broke out in 1861, Jacob Bromwell® products continued to be a vital part of the pioneers' daily living. During this time, the company produced tin cups for Civil War soldiers - the very same Jacob Bromwell® cups we are still manufacturing here in the USA. The Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, and Jacob Bromwell® was there through it all.
Jacob Bromwell® was manufacturing products in America for over 40 years before Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860. But reaching back further into our nation’s past, it is clear that Jacob Bromwell® embodies the “Buy American” beliefs that President George Washington, the father of American independence, put into practice. In the 1760s, Washington’s lone cash crop was tobacco. Most of which he exported to England, and he used the profits to purchase imported finished goods. Later, Washington formed his own personal Declaration of Independence from England, and switched from raising and exporting tobacco to raising corn and wheat. He then sold these items to local merchants and used the profits to buy finished goods from American craftsmen – the same kind of quality you will find at Jacob Bromwell® today.
In the early 1900s, Jacob Bromwell® moved to Michigan City, Indiana, where the company rejoiced in the Roaring 1920s but experienced the heartbreak of the Great Depression. During this time, the company operated just three days per week while unconditionally supporting as many hard-working Americans as possible. The company survived the daunting times by loyally adhering to its founding mission statement that it remains committed to today: to create the highest quality cooking, baking, and food preparation products that would last for generations.
Today, over 200 years since our company first began production, Jacob Bromwell® remains a household name and is universally recognized as America's oldest housewares company. As the world's most reputable manufacturer of luxury flasks, kitchenware, and housewares, we are still proudly manufacturing many of our products in the USA—supporting more than 100 American jobs here at home—with any products produced overseas made to exacting American standards. Furthermore, Jacob Bromwell® is still family-owned and operated, and every year we continue to add innovative items to our line of heritage goods.
Few companies are so fortunate to have been around so long to celebrate more than two centuries of business. From our very first customer to our modern-day worldwide presence, every moment in Jacob Bromwell's storied history played a role in establishing our values, our craftsmanship, and the elegant, quality products you hold in your hands today. If Jacob Bromwell® could be transformed from a small wood-frame building in Cincinnati into one of America's leading housewares companies in a little over 200 years, what might the next century bring? One thing is certain: Jacob Bromwell® will be here to witness and find out.
Jacob Bromwell is Born
• 1785 •
Our story truly begins in 1785 with the birth of our founder, Jacob Bromwell (1785-1866), who was born in Richmond, VA, a country village not far from Cincinnati, OH. He is not to be confused with his grandson, Jacob Henry Bromwell, born May 11, 1848, who was a former U.S. Representative from Ohio. Mr. Bromwell is educated in the Quaker Schools of Baltimore, MD and becomes a young soldier of the War of 1812. He returns home with an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong desire to start his own business.
The Start of a Legend
• 1819 •
A frontier entrepreneur, Jacob Bromwell leaves Baltimore and forges his way across the American frontier. He travels west via the Ohio River on a flatboat, ending his journey in a small town with the funny name of Cincinnati, OH. The Panic of 1819 strikes – America’s first major financial crisis – yet that same year he opens America’s first wire goods and housewares manufacturing company. Located at 181 Walnut St. in Cincinnati, his eponymous company occupies all six floors and boasts over 1,000 products in its catalog.
Patented First Flour Sifter
• 1835 •
As one of America’s manufacturing pioneers, the company patents the world's first flour sifter. The company continues to create cutting-edge products that fulfill the demands of American pioneers at the time, including shoe and scrub brushes, leather and wood horse shiners, dusting and window brushes, mops, rat traps, and corn poppers. They were meticulously crafted by hand with portions constructed on innovative machinery to quicken production.
A Pie with a Pedigree
• 1848 •
Resourceful miners and pioneers of the Old West use our pie plates – sometimes called pie pans – to pan for gold during the California Gold Rush of 1848 as they search for infinite treasure. Still today, our company makes these pie pans the same exact way, and you can purchase them for baking something scrumptious for your next family gathering. You might just strike gold!
Civil War Tin Cups
• 1862 •
The company supplies its tin drinking cups to Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War – marked U.S. for United States and C.S. for Confederate States. Standard issue during the Civil War, our company continues to produce these cups today and they are made without welding, soldering, or rivets – all with a little help from the original machinery and equipment.
Retirement Years & Growth
• 1866 •
Jacob Bromwell spends his retirement years in Cincinnati, OH surrounded by his children and grandchildren, and is greatly adored for his kind and amiable character. He is said to have been a large portly man, to have been fond of good living, and to have kept an open house and table for all his friends and kindred. Jacob Bromwell passes away in 1866, yet demand for his company’s tin cups, popcorn poppers, graters, and flour sifters continues to increase, reaching new heights.
Business Officially Incorporates
• 1883 •
During its first 50 years of business, the company undergoes several name changes, including The Bromwell Brush Manufacturing Company and The Bromwell Wire Goods Company. On February 12, 1883, the business files for incorporation and finally settles on the name The Bromwell Brush & Wire Goods Company.
100 Year Anniversary
• 1919 •
The Bromwell Brush & Wire Goods company celebrates 100 years in continuous business and remains family owned by Jacob Bromwell’s descendents. The company has upwards of 1,000 employees in 7 states, including Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. As the largest business of its kind, it bills itself as having "the largest capacity in the country.” Much of the manufacturing is done through convict labor and the company employs prisoners at wages averaging about 35 cents per day.
The Company Splits
• 1923 •
The fireplace division of the company is purchased by the Gerwe family, who opens a fireplace store in Cincinnati, OH that is still open today called Bromwell’s. It is now owned by the McClorey family and has been since 2005. The housewares division of the company (this company) is purchased by large conglomerate company Leigh Products, Inc. Leigh Products renames their portion of the business Bromwell Housewares and relocates its manufacturing to a 4-story building at 601 N. Carroll Ave. in Michigan City, IN.
The Move to Michigan City, IN.
• 1925 •
Under the ownership of Leigh Products, Bromwell Housewares enjoys rising sales during the Roaring 1920s followed immediately by the heartbreak of the Great Depression. During the Great Depression, sales fall drastically, yet the company continues to operate just three days per week employing as many hard-working Americans as possible.
Numerous Distinctions Earned
• 1945 •
The company earns numerous distinctions, including being the oldest known manufacturer of tin and stainless steel products in the United States, the oldest housewares company in North America, and the 34th oldest continuously owned and operated company in the United States.
1 Millionth Popcorn Popper Sold
• 1952 •
The Original Popcorn Popper, one of the oldest products in our line, was originally sold at a wholesale price of $3.50 for a gross. In 1952, the company proudly announces the sale of its one millionth popcorn popper at Walmart. Walmart celebrates its success with the company and special signs are put on display at Walmart stores to further promote the company’s products.
• 1987 •
Leigh Products divests its interest in the company and sells Bromwell Housewares outright to a private investor. Under new ownership in the late 1980s, Bromwell Housewares sustains its success and continues to distribute its namesake, mass market household goods to nationwide discount stores, hardware stores, supermarkets, and drug stores, including Walmart, K-Mart, Target, and Ace Hardware. It is estimated that 1 in 4 American households owns a Bromwell product.
Relocation of Headquarters
• 1991 •
Corporate headquarters relocates to Phoenix, AZ yet the factory in Michigan City, IN continues to operate. While nearly all housewares companies based in America move production offshore to capitalize on low labor costs, Bromwell keeps production local due to its faith in the creativity and productivity of American workers. But as lower cost imports make their way onto the shelves of big box retail stores, demand for the company’s products slowly declines throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and sales consistently drop year after year.
Turnaround of an American Icon
• 2010 •
With sales at an all-time low, Bromwell Housewares nearly files bankruptcy and disappears into history. New ownership steps in with a bold turnaround plan to revitalize the failing company which was once a household name. Due to unsafe conditions, the Michigan City factory is closed. The product line is reduced, product quality is improved, and new distribution channels are established. The brand is renamed and repositioned to Jacob Bromwell®, and focused solely on producing top-of-the-line, handcrafted products. In keeping with the brand’s authenticity, the Jacob Bromwell® logo becomes our founder's actual signature, made with his own hand.
The Move to Markle, IN.
• 2011 •
Jacob Bromwell® begins production at its new plant in Markle, IN, which features state-of-the-art machinery and safe labor conditions. Products manufactured at this factory include the Classic Tin Cup and Original Popcorn Popper, both of which have become important icons of 19th-century domestic Americana and continue to be among the company’s best-selling items. The company sees a resurgence in sales and a return to profitability by focusing on the brand’s reputation for durability, quality, and exclusivity.
Copper Product Launch
• 2012 •
Jacob Bromwell® brings to market the world’s first copper flask and it becomes an instant success, catapulting the company’s sales and helping to garner nationwide press in publications such as Country Living, People, Esquire, and Martha Stewart Living. In response to the increased demand, the company opens a copper fabrication workshop. All products produced at this facility are made by hand using old-fashioned techniques and authentic materials.
Old Factory Converted into Apartments
• 2014 •
One of the company’s original factories located at 530 W. First Street in Greensburg, IN factory is converted into apartments. In fact, this two-story building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. How would you like to live in a building that once made Jacob Bromwell® tin cups, flour sifters, popcorn poppers, and wire-based household items?
Donation to Indiana State Museum
• 2015 •
Jacob Bromwell® proudly donates several original pieces of machinery and equipment to a permanent exhibit at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, IN. Historical Bromwell products can also be found at a number of museums across the country, including The Rossen House in Phoenix, AZ.
Celebrating 200 Years
• 2019 •
Jacob Bromwell® proudly celebrates its 200th anniversary! We are proud to serve a customer base that includes homesteaders and environmentalists, hunters, fishers, cabin dwellers, the "chronically nostalgic", and even Hollywood celebrities and set designers. It falls to but a few companies to celebrate two centuries of business. What might the next century bring?
Interesting Facts about Jacob Bromwell®
As one of America's early manufacturing pioneers, our company holds many distinctions as unique as our name:
- Oldest kitchenware, housewares, and flask manufacturer. Jacob Bromwell® is the oldest kitchenware, housewares, and flask manufacturer in North America (founded in 1819 and incorporated in 1883 as The Bromwell Brush and Wire Goods Company). That means we are older than the light bulb, the telephone, the automobile, and even electricity!
- Oldest known manufacturer of copper, stainless steel and tin products. Jacob Bromwell® is the oldest known manufacturer of copper, stainless steel and tin products in the United States, and is the 34th oldest continuously owned and operated company in the United States. In fact, we have been family owned and operated for over 20 decades.
- Original location was in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. The company's original location was a six-story building in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio located at 181 Walnut Street. At the time, the company occupied all six floors and boasted over 1,000 products in its catalog, many of which won awards.
- Work with a variety of premium materials. We work with a variety of premium materials, including steel, stainless steel, tin, aluminum, copper, wood, iron, and leather - all sourced domestically. None of our products contain plastic parts or components. By using high-grade materials, Jacob Bromwell® products remain 100% authentic from the day they were created and are guaranteed to last a lifetime. Our logo is our founder's actual signature. In keeping with the authenticity of the brand, the Jacob Bromwell® logo is our founder's actual signature, made with his own hand.
- Tens of millions of units sold. With tens millions of units sold and lifetime sales of over $1 billion since 1819, it is estimated that 1 in 4 American households still own a Jacob Bromwell® product. (Hint: Check your kitchen cabinets for one of our antique flour sifters or graters!).
- Historically important products. Since 1819, Jacob Bromwell® has produced the Original Popcorn Popper and Legendary Flour Sifter, historically important icons of 19th-century domestic Americana, just like our Classic Tin Cup, which was widely used during the Civil War.
- The Original Popcorn Popper was originally $3.50 for a gross. The Original Popcorn Popper, one of the oldest products in our line, was originally sold at a wholesale price of $3.50 for a gross.
- We patented the world's first flour sifter. Jacob Bromwell® patented, manufactured, and marketed some of America's most popular and iconic housewares products, including the Legendary Flour Sifter, Wonder Shredders, and Original Popcorn Popper - to name a few. Still today, the designs, manufacturing processes, and materials of these products remain virtually unchanged.
- We were the largest business of its kind in the United States. By the late 1800s, Jacob Bromwell® operated 7 factories throughout Ohio, Indiana, and New Jersey, and had upwards of 1,000 employees. As the largest business of its kind in the United States, the company frequently billed itself as having "the largest capacity in the country".
- Historic Greensburg, Indiana factory converted into apartments. Originally built in 1903, our historic Greensburg, Indiana factory located at 530 West First Street is a two-story brick building that has been recently converted into apartments. In fact, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. How would you like to live in a building that once made Bromwell tin cups, flour sifters, popcorn poppers, and wire-based household items?
- The company was split in 1923. The Bromwell Brush and Wire Goods Company was split in 1923. The fireplace division of the company was purchased by the Gerwe family, who opened a fireplace store in Cincinnati that is still open today called Bromwell's. It is now owned by the McClorey family and has been since 2005. The housewares and manufacturing portion of the company (this company) was then based out of Michigan City, Indiana and renamed Bromwell Housewares until 2010.
- In 2010, the assets of Bromwell Housewares were acquired and the brand was renovated. In 2010, our brand was completely renovated, which included a name change from Bromwell Housewares to Jacob Bromwell®. Deeply inspired by our founder's personal story, we developed a rich and authentic brand experience based around the man himself, whose hard-working, inventive, and cheerful character shines through even nearly two centuries later.
- Jacob Bromwell® and its products have had a significant cultural and economic impact in America. Several original pieces of machinery and equipment are part of a permanent exhibit at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana. Historical Bromwell products can also be found at numerous museums across the country, including The Rossen House in Phoenix, Arizona.
- Case heard in the U.S. Supreme Court. Back in 1923, The Bromwell Brush & Wire Goods Co. had a case heard in the U.S. Supreme Court [The Bromwell Brush & Wire Goods Co. v. State Board of Charities & Corrections of Kentucky], in regards to a breach of contract dealing with inmate labor.
- Numerous manufacturing facilities and customers worldwide. Today, Jacob Bromwell® proudly manufactures many of its products in the USA and applies exacting American standards to the products manufactured overseas. Our American manufacturing locations support more than 100 American jobs, and our products are sold through our website and at select specialty retailers throughout North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
- Creators of the luxury flask category. Jacob Bromwell® is proud to have created the luxury flask category, having brought to market the first copper flask in 2012, the Great American Flask. Since then, our line of luxury flasks has grown to more than one dozen different models.
- Diverse customer base. Our diverse customer base includes young and affluent urban professionals, mothers and grandmothers, chefs and bakers, celebrities and politicians, homesteaders and cabin dwellers, the "chronically nostalgic", and even Hollywood set designers seeking period-correct pieces.