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Jacques Manufacturing Company
Jacques Mfg. Co., 1920-1924; Manayunk, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Associated Firms

The Jacques Manufacturing Company is a little-known short-lived firm that produced closed production automobile bodies for the Connersville, Indiana-built Lexington and Philadelphia-built Fox automobiles.

Its founder, Jean Behar Jacques, was born July 5, 1883 in Roustchouk (Russé aka Rustchuk), Bulgaria. As a youngster he moved to Paris and considered French his native tongue. He emigrated to the United States from the port of Cherbourg, France on December 13, 1905 aboard the steamer Kaiserine Auguste Victoria, arriving in the Port of New York on December 20, 1905.

His early working experience is unknown, although it’s more than likely he was trained as either a coachbuilder or blacksmith. His listing in the 1918 Philadelphia Directory give a home address of 4363 North Thirteenth St., and an occupation of foreman.

The 1920 US Census, which was taken at his 4636 North Thirteenth St. home, provides us with a few more details:

“Jean B. Jacques (36-yo b. Bulgaria, emigrated in Dec. 1905) occupation: builder, auto bodies; wife- Lucie (23 yo - b. January 14, 1895 in Bulgaria, emigrated in 1911) two daughters; Michel (b. April 8, 1912); Viola (b. October 30, 1916) Jacques.”

He had recently incorporated the Jacques Manufacturing Company, whose listing in the 1921 Philadelphia Directory follows:

“Jacques Mfg. Co. Inc.; Jean Jacques, pres.; Wm. F. Brown, v-pres.; W.W. Hess, secretary; Auguste Friedrichs, treas. Auto Bodies, NE cor. Green la & Smick, Myk.”

The firm’s vice-president, William F. Brown (b.1854-d.1938), was the founder of the Brown Carriage Works, Mifflinburg, Pa., and his other two partners were well-known in Philadelphia business circles.

Walter W. Hess (b.1868), was a former electric traction journalist (Car Publishing Co.,), salesman (Car Equipment Co.) and contractor (Philadelphia Construction Co.), who made a fortune extracting natural gas and other fossil fuels from the bountiful Pennsylvania shale deposits. During his long career in gas exploration Hess served as an officer and/or director in the following firms: Anderson Gas Co., Suburban Gas and Fuel Co., Newville Gas Co., Fleetwood Gas Co., Perkiomen Gas Co., Havre de Grace Gas Co. , Lykens Valley Gas Co., Myerstown Gas & Fuel Co., Kutztown & Topton Gas Co., and the Boyertown Gas Co.

Auguste H. Friedrichs (b. January 24, 1885 in Belgium) was co-owner of the Janero Dye Works, a well-known textile dyer and processor located at the corner of Edgemont and Lehigh Avenue, Philadelphia. Like Jacques, he grew up in France and attended the Ecolo Manufacturiere in Verviers, Belgium, and in 1910 emigrated to the United States, where he found employment in Philadelphia’s textile business.

(Jacques first factory sat where St. Lucie’s School currently resides.)

“Jean Jacques, pres. Jacques Mfg. Co. Inc., h. 4636 N 13 th”

The 1922 Industrial Directory of Pennsylvania states the firm employed 81 - 80 males and 1 female. The firm's business picked up late in 1921, and they relocated to a recently-constructed two-story factory located on Rockland St., just east of Seventh, the January 19, 1922 issue of Iron Age reporting:

“The Jacques Mfg. Co., Smick Street and Green Lane, Philadelphia, manufacturer of automobile bodies, has acquired the two story factory at Seventh and Rockland streets totaling about 40,000 sq. ft. for a new plant. Operations will be concentrated at this location. The company has acquired also an adjoining tract of land aggregating 3 acres.”

More details wer eincluded in the February 1922 issue of The Automotive Manufacturer:

“Jacques Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia, manufacturer of automobile bodies, has moved into its new factory building in that city, which affords greater facilities to care for 1922 business. The company has specialized in closed cars on a production basis, the output during the past year going into the product of four of the makers of cars in the $3,000 to $5,000 class.”

The April 1922 issue of the SAE Journal announced they had hired a body engineer to handle the additional work:

“Paul Breneman has accepted the position of body engineer with Jacques Mfg. Co., Philadelphia.”

The August 1922 issue of Motor Record revelas JAcques had recently closed on a deal to manufacture closed bodies for the Lexington Automobile, which was manufactured in Connersville, Indiana:

“Jacques Mfg. Co. has been awarded the contract for the first unit of 2,500 closed bodies for the Lexington Motor Co. The Jacques company contemplates a one-story extension of 200 feet to its present building.”

Billy Durant was rumored to be associated with Lexington at the time, and it’s certainly possible that Jacques had planned on manufacturing closed bodies for Durant after he purchased the short-lived Willys plant in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in June of 1922 - however this is just speculation.

Lexington was having cash flow problems at the time, and the April 15, 1923 issue of Motor West reveals the auto manufacturer owed $60,000 to Jacques Mfg.:

“Lexington Receiver Asked For

“A receiver for Lexington Motor Co., Connersville, Ind., was asked in a suit filed in the Federal court at Indianapolis recently by Jacques Mfg. Co., Wilmington, Del., body makers, on a judgment for $59,342.”

During the mid-twenties, production automobile body manufacturers located in the Northeast were losing contracts to firms located in and around Detroit, Michigan. Jacques and a number of once profitable firms soon found they were unable to compete, and began looking for similarly-constructed products that might keep their employees occupied.

At that time the Martin Maier Co. of Detroit, one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of wooden trunks and custom luggage, had yet to enter the lucrative automobile trunk market, which was currently controlled by the Globe Machine & Stamping Co. of Cleveland, Ohio.

In February of 1923 Jean Jacques proposed that the two companies co-operate in the manufacture and sale of metal automobile trunks; with Jacques Mfg. handling the manufacturing and Martin Maier the sales and marketing. The scheme met with the president of Martin Maier’s (Frederick Paquette) approval and Jacques constructed two sample trunks to Paquette's specifications, for which he applied for a US patent on March 10, 1923. On May 25, 1926 he was granted US Patent No. 1586446 which was assigned to Jean Jacques personally.

It's unknown if Jacques Mfg. Co. remained in business long enought to commence series manufacture of the trunks, but the 1925 Philadelphia Directory revelas that Jean Jacques was no longer involved in the auto body business, having become a partner with Charles D. Coe in the Superior Garage:

“Superior Garage, (Jean Jacques, Charles D. Coe) 7033 N. Broad St., Philadelphia.”

I could find no evidence that Jacques returned to the automobile body business, although he continued to come up with useful inventions, receiving 6 patents during his lifetime:

Automobile Trunk – US Patent No. 1586446 - ‎Filed Mar 10, 1923 - ‎Issued May 25, 1926 – assigned to Jean Jacques

Closure for Automobile Radiators – US Patent No.1630897 - ‎Filed May 3, 1924 - ‎Issued May 31, 1927 – assigned to Jean Jacques

Closure For Filler Openings – US Patent No. 1631106 - ‎Filed Jan 29, 1926 - ‎Issued May 31, 1927 – assigned to Jean Jacques

Closure For Filler Openings - US Patent No. 1631098 - ‎Filed Feb 5, 1926 - ‎Issued May 31, 1927 - assigned to Jean Jacques

Burial Casket – US Patent No. 2042849 - ‎Filed Nov 11, 1935 - ‎Issued Jun 2, 1936 – assigned to Jean Jacques

Riveting Apparatus – US Patent No. 2312554 - ‎Filed Apr 26, 1941 - ‎Issued Mar 2, 1943 – assigned to Jean Jacques

Key winder and casing for dispensing contents of collapsible tubes – US Patent No. 2530476 - ‎Filed Sep 4, 1948 - ‎Issued Nov 21, 1950 – assigned to Jean Jacques

Although his employer at the time is unknown, Jacques remained in Philadelphia, the 1930 US Census continuing to list his address as 4636 North Thirteenth St.:

“Jean B. Jacques (46-yo b. Bulgaria, emigrated in 1903) occupation: engineer, automobile; wife- Lucie (33 yo - b.1897 in Bulgaria, emigrated in 1911) two daughters; Michel (16-yo b.1914); Viola (14-yo b. 1916) Jacques.”

In the mid-30 he took a position with the Baldwin Locomotive Works in the Philadelphia suburb of Eddystone, Pennsylvania, his World War II Draft Registration Card listing his home address as 6211 North Thirteenth St. as does the 1940 US Census:

“Jean B. Jacques (56-yo b. Bulgaria, emigrated in 1905) occupation: automobile engineer, automobile manufacturer; wife- Lucie (43 yo - b.1897 in Bulgaria, emigrated in 1911) two daughters; Michel (16-yo b.1914); Viola (14-yo b. 1916) Jacques.”

The 1950 Philadelphia Directory continued to list his address as 6211 North Thirteenth St. Jean B. Jacques died in Los Angeles, California on November 16, 1952, his wife Lucie passed away on March 26, 1988 in Philadelphia.

The Jacques Mfg. Co. plant still stands today and is located at 637 West Rockland, just east of North Seventh Street. Its last inhabitant was the Contour Graphics and Packaging Corp. which purchased the facility from the Booth Bottling Co., the manufacturer of Booth’s Root Beer and Cream Soda which were Philadelphia favorites for close to half a century.

© 2013 Mark Theoblad for







Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark - Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942

John St. George Joyce - Story of Philadelphia, pub. 1919

Richard A. Stanley - The Lexington Automobile: A Complete History, pub. 2007

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