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The History of

The Geib Musical Instrument Case Company

by Steve Kirtley

(c) 2013

 

Preface: Geib, Inc. is one of the legendary names in vintage musical instrument cases. Behind their quality products is a fascinating story of  a successful American manufacturing company that was built by the hard work and integrity of the Geib family. I am grateful to the following members of the Geib family for contributing their personal recollections and some rare photos to complement my own research: John Geib, grandson of founder Charles A. Geib and a longtime employee of the company, Jeff Geib, great grandson of Charles A. Geib; Jerry Bowers, grandson of Nicholas V. Geib and a longtime employee, and finally Jerry's son, Greg Bowers.

 

The Geib & Schaefer Company, 1906 (1)

The man on the right is Charles A. Geib, the older gentleman next to him is Jacob U. Schaefer. Standing next to Jacob is his daughter Mary.

Identifying the location of this building was a bit of a conundrum. A 951 street number is not mentioned in any of the historic accounts or company advertisements. The Thomas Poole article below says that in 1902 G&S erected a 2,500 square foot, one-story factory at 1757 Central Park Avenue, and the next year they added a second story to the building. Here we have a photo of a two story factory in the right time period but with the wrong street number. How do we reconcile these facts? The answer is that in 1909 Chicago undertook a renumbering of streets throughout the city. Thus 951 North Central Park Ave. became 1757 North Central Park Ave. This original 1902 location continued as a production facility throughout most of the company's history.

(1) Photos courtesy of Greg Bowers

 

The Geib & Shaefer Factory Shop Floor, 1906 (1)

This is an extremely rare view of the inside of an early instrument case factory, showing the workers at their stations. On the left, the ladies are sewing canvas cases at a table of sewing machines powered by a "line shaft" which is being belt-driven from an external steam or gasoline engine. Watch your skirts ladies! The pipes from the ceiling are gas lights. To the right are a pile of wooden violin case carcasses, ready for covering with Keratol imitation leather. At the top of the pile of unfinished cases is a completed case that appears to be the right size for a gramophone. Just behind that are two large floor-standing rivet machines, operated by foot pedal to install case hardware with spit rivets. If you look carefully you can spot Jacob Shaefer and Charles Geib at the far end of the room. Jacob's daughter Mary is on the far right, and the young man just behind her is possibly her brother William C. Schaefer. This view is probably the second floor of the building above. The office pictured below would have been on the first floor at the front of the building, and behind the office was probably the woodworking department where the wooden case carcasses were produced. The woodworking department would have had a similar belt-driven "line shaft" powering saws, sanders, and other machinery.

 

The Offices of the Geib & Schaefer Company, 1906 (1)

Left to right is Charles A. Geib on the phone, Mary (Marie) T. Shaefer, Jacob U. Schaefer, Nicholas V. Geib with a Trumpet Case. Charles and Jacob are founding partners. Nicholas (brother of Charles) joined as a partner in 1906. Mary is the daughter of Jacob and future wife of Nicholas.

 

Geib & Schaefer Canvas & Leather Cases

The canvas and leather cases produced by Geib & Schaefer were not soft "gig bags". They were actually relatively sturdy. It's true they had less protection than the later hard shell cases, but they generally offered more protection than today's chipboard cases. They were reinforced with "strawboard" which is stiffer than cardboard. G&S did not put an identifying brand on their early products, so we are unable to positively identify existing examples.

 

Canvas Case from 1917 Gibson Catalog. Quite possibly a G&S brand.

Description of G&S Canvas Case: We use a very heavy grade of strawboard covered with a fine quality canvas, heavy fleeced lined, edges are bound with Keratol, leather handle and trimmings.

 

Leather Case, showing the end-opening mechanism typical of both leather and canvas cases of the period

Note: This is an M&W brand case, but G&S cases would have used the same sort of design. Today these cases are often disparaged with the nick name "bottom dumpers" but when new they offered fairly good protection. At the turn of the century a leather case was considered the best possible quality.

 

A "Faultless" case from the 1917 Gibson catalog, most likely a Geib & Schaefer

Here's Gibson's description of their "Faultless" case: body of case is three-ply, cross-grained veneer, covered with black seal art-leather and moulded to fit the instrument. Opens full length like a violin case. Lined throughout and padded. Fine quality velvet or velour plush lining. Nickel plated trimmings, lock and key. Collapsible handle. String and pick pocket moulded in case.

 

Early G&S hard shell cases did not yet have the oval stamp on the bottom but usually can be identified by the diamond design on the lid of the accessory pocket.

 

The newly invented "hard shell" case

The description of the new "Faultless" case seems quite ordinary to us, but in the early 1900's it was a radical new design. About 1904 we see the introduction of this new type of construction for cases of fretted instruments and orchestral instruments. It is a side-opening hard shell case molded of wood veneer plys, covered with Keratol imitation leather, lined with plush, and closed with spring catches. It appeared positively modern compared to the canvas or leather end-opening cases and the black wooden "coffin" cases which had preceded them. Some features of the hard shell case had been evolving in violin cases for a decade or two. Now finally all the components were available to make the hard shell case possible: inexpensive rotary-cut veneer, Keratol covering, and spring catches. It soon became the new standard for high-end cases. Leather prices were rising in the early 1900's and by 1917 Gibson announced they had eliminated the leather cases from their catalog. This new style construction was probably pioneered by M&W (Maulbetsch & Whitemore), a New Jersey competitor. M&W supplied many of Gibson's cases in the early 1900's, but Geib & Schaefer quickly began producing quality hard shell cases. By the time M&W sold out to Felsberg in 1920, G&S was supplying many if not most of Gibson's cases and would continue to do so until well after WWII.

 

Chronology of the Company

1899 - Geib & Schaefer Company Established

The Geib & Schaefer Company, also known as G&S Co. was founded by Jacob U. Schaefer and Charles A. Geib, in Chicago, Illinois. With six employees in an 800 square foot facility they manufacture canvas cases and leather cases for guitars and mandolins. (Thomas Poole) The address was 1739 Hancock Avenue, which has been renamed Drake Ave. and is two blocks east of the later location at 1757 North Central Park Ave.

Note: Thomas Poole reports a founding date of 1900 but G&S advertisements state "Established 1899."

 

May 22, 1900

Charles A. Geib marries Elizabeth Schaefer, daughter of Jacob U. Schaefer.

 

1902

G&S builds a 2500 square foot factory at 1757 Central Park Avenue, and continues subsequent enlargements in the following years. (Thomas Poole) The 1918 version of the building still exists at this site, though abandoned. See the photo further down.

 

1906

The partnership adds Jacob's son William C. Schaefer and Charles' brother Nicholas Victor Geib. By 1916 Charles and Nicholas Geib have married daughters of Jacob U. Schaefer. (Thomas Poole)

 

1916 - Founding member Jacob Schaefer dies

 

December 31, 1916 - Chicago Tribune

Obituary: Jacob Schaefer passes away.

Jacob B. SCHAEFER Sr., Dec. 30, 7 p.m., in his seventieth year, beloved husband of Mary B. Noel, fond father of Elizabeth Geib, Mary Geib, and William C, Jacob Jr., Joseph, and Margaret SCHAEFER, Funeral from his late residence, 3635 Cortland-St., Wednesday, Jan. 3, 1917, at 9:30 a.m., to St. Philomena church, where requiem high mass will be celebrated. Interment St. Joseph's cemetery, by autos. Member of St. Philomena court No. 398, C. O. F. Record Number: 19161231dn035

 

3635 Cortland St., Chicago, Il, Home of Jacob U. Schaefer

Located about 3 blocks from the factory at 1757 N. Central Park Ave.

 

1918

Factory has 27,000 square feet of space and more than 100 employees. Geib & Schaefer is claimed to be the largest case manufacturer in the United States and probably the world.  (Thomas Poole)

Note: This is the square footage of the existing factory building at 1751-57 N. Central Park Ave. See photo below.

 

Manufacturing and Wholesale Industries of Chicago,
Thomas B. Poole Company, 1918
Geib & Schaefer

Chicago has many manufacturing industries which figures not only as the largest in their specific fields to be found in the United States and undoubtedly in the entire world. Definite precedence of this order attaches to the extensive business conducted by Geib & Schaefer in the manufacturing of high-grade cases for music instruments, sample cases, cases for thermos bottles, etc., the various products being constructed of wood, leather, fiber and canvas and each type representing the acme of excellence. Like many another of the important industries of the western metropolis that of Geib & Schaefer has been developed along normal and conservative lines and from small beginnings.

In the year 1900 Jacob U. Schaefer and Charles A. Geib, both expert mechanics, formed a partnership and began manufacturing musical instrument cases and other similar products on a very modest scale, Mr. Geib having served a four years' apprenticeship in this special line and having become an expert artisan, while his partner had been fortified through one year of practical experience in the same field of manufacturing. With limited financial resources the two energetic and ambitious partners initiated manufacturing operations in a building at 1739 Hancock Avenue, where they made requisition of a floor space of only eight hundred square feet and where the original force of employees numbered only six.

The province of the enterprise at the start was confined to manufacturing of canvas cases for guitars and mandolins, and before the expiration of six months the scope of the business was expanded to include also the manufacturing of leather cases for musical instruments. Mr. Geib assumed the functions of business manager and salesman and Mr. Schaefer gave his close attention to the work and management of the factory. So effectively did Mr. Geib exploit the new enterprise and prove successful in the sale of the products that the business of the firm for the first year aggregated about thirteen thousand dollars, the output having been sold almost entirely to Chicago jobbers and retail dealers. With confidence in the cumulative success of their business, the principals in control of the now substantial business purchased, in 1902, a site at 1757 Central Park Avenue, and there erected an one-story factory building that supplied an aggregate floor space of twenty-five hundred square feet. The next year a second story was added to the building, while later the demands for greater accommodations led to the building of a second story and otherwise supplementing the plant until it now has a floor space of twenty-seven thousand square feet. The mechanical equipment and all incidental facilities are of the best modern type and in the operations now carried forward in this well equipped institution more than one hundred persons are employed, the greater number being skilled mechanics. The products of the factory now find sale in all parts of the United States and Canada, and a substantial trade has been developed also in Hawaii, Cuba and South Africa, the average annual business being now in excess of three hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Geib still remains in charge of the sales and general business of the firm and his honored associate, Mr. Schaefer, remained as general superintendent of the factory until his death, which occurred December 31, 1916. In 1906 William C. Schaefer, a son of Jacob U. Schaefer, one of the two founders of the business, was admitted to partnership, as was also Nicholas V. Geib, a brother of the other founder and present executive head of the enterprise. The firm how holds precedence in being the most extensive manufacturers of music cases in the United States, and it is probable that no concern in the world controls a larger or more important business in this field of industrial enterprise. The firm has membership in the Illinois Manufacturers' Association and stands as one of the vigorous and representative exponents of manufacturing and commercial enterprise in the western metropolis. William C. Schaefer is superintendent of the leather and canvas department of the business and factory, and Nicholas V. Geib has the superintendency of the woodworking department.

Charles A. Geib was born in Newberg, Wisconsin, April 29, 1876. His early educational advantages were limited. As a youth he learned the lessons and value of honest toil - principally through his association with the work of the home farm. He did not have the advantages of going to school for more than three years altogether. In 1896, at the age of twenty years he established his home in Chicago and found employment in the factory of Martin Weick Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of cases for musical instruments. His apprenticeship was most through and he acquired a full knowledge of all details of manufacturing as well as the commercial phases of this line of enterprise. He continued as a valuable employee of this company until 1900, when he initiated his independent career in the same line of manufacturing, by forming a partnership with the late Jacob U. Shaefer establishing the firm of Geib & Schaefer. May 22, 1900 recorded the marriage of Mr. Geib to Miss Elizabeth Schaefer, a daughter of his former partner, the late Jacob U. Schaefer, and the six children of this union are: Clarence G., Ambrose, Loretta, Dorothy, Lucille and Charles, Jr.

Jacob U. Schaefer was born in Oberprince Hessen, Nassau, Germany, in the year of 1847. In 1880 with his wife and one child he came to the United States. He was employed by the Pullman Company for twenty years. In 1899 he entered the employ of Martin Weick Manufacturing Company, and one year later he became associated with his son-in-law, Charles A. Geib, in organizing the firm of Geib & Schaefer and founding the business still conducted under this title, his active association with the enterprise having continued until his death, December 31, 1916, at the venerable age of sixty-nine years and eight months. Mr. Schaefer was a man of sterling character, commanded the respect and confidence of all who knew him, and lived an honest, upright and industrious life, one of the world's noble army of productive workers. In Hessen-Nassau, Germany, was solemnized his marriage to Miss Mary Noll, who survives him, and all save the eldest of their eight children were born after their emigration to America. Of the children two are deceased; Elizabeth is the wife of Charles A. Geib, as noted in the forgoing article; Mary is the wife of Nicholas V. Geib; William C. is a member of the firm of Geib & Schaefer, and the three younger children, Jacob U. is foreman at Geib & Schaefer's; Joseph A. and Margaret remain with their widowed mother.

William C. Schaefer, superintendent of the leather and canvas department of the factory of Geib & Schaefer, was born in Chicago on the 7th of January, 1884. As a lad of fourteen years he began work in the factory of Martin Weick Manufacturing Company and his experience was such as eventually to give him prestige as a skilled mechanic. Upon severing his association with this company he became one of the founders of Geib & Schaefer.

Nicholas V. Geib, founder of the veneer molds, fibre, and woodworking departments of Geib & Schaefer was born near Newburg, Wisconson on the 5th day of June, 1880. After his school days he left his parental home and traveled in various parts of the country - where he was employed in several lumbering and mechanical operations - his natural mechanical ability giving him marked facility in his work. In 1904 Mr. Geib came to Chicago and took employment in the factory of Geib & Schaefer, where under his skillful and mechanical workmanship devised new ways and means of adopting quicker and more accurate devices in the woodworking department of the well organized plant and entered as junior partner with William C. Schaefer in 1906. Nicholas Geib married Jacob U. Schaefer's daughter Mary.

 

The Thomas Poole article provides valuable insights into the personalities of the Geib & Schaefer Company. Charles Geib, with only three years of formal schooling had the work-ethic, intelligence and ambition to start a new company at age 23. Three years earlier he had left the family farm in rural Wisconsin with it's limited opportunities and moved 100 miles south to the big city of Chicago to work at his brother-in-law's company. (See Martin Weick Mfg. Co. below.) There he apparently met Jacob Schaefer and became engaged to his daughter Elizabeth. Jacob's 20 years of work at the Pullman Company probably indicates he was the financial investor in the new G&S Company while Charles provided energy and leadership. A few years later Charles' younger brother Nic joined the firm and married Jacob's other daughter, Mary. So, this truly was a close-knit family business, and that probably was the primary strength that took them through the challenges over the years ahead.

 

The Martin Weick Manufacturing Company (Martin Weick Mfg Co.)

Note: A little background on The Martin Weick Manufacturing Company mentioned in the Thomas Poole article. In 1890 Martin Weick married Susan Geib,(2) who was the daughter of Peter Geib and older sister to Charles and Nic Geib. In 1895 he established The Martin Weick Manufacturing Company, which was the first case company in Chicago.(3) This means that Charles A. Geib got his start in case building by working at his brother-in-law's company, as did Jacob U. Schaefer and his son William C. Schaefer. Martin Weick has been mentioned as a "satchel maker" which probably refers to sheet music cases as well as instrument cases.

(2) http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/w/a/a/Debi-B-Waala-wi/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0046.html

http://www.ritger.com/genealogy/getperson.php?personID=I20137&tree=RITTGER

(3) This is unattributed internet information

 

December 11, 1920 - Presto

MARTIN WEICK, UNDER A CLOUD, DISAPPEARS FROM CHICAGO

Small Instrument Case-Maker Suspected by Federal Agents of Anti-Government Activity.

The former factory of Martin Weick, 1623 South Ashland avenue, Chicago, is no longer devoted to producing cases for small musical instruments as it was a year ago. The place is now an athletic club where young men hold forth in stunts of strength and grace. And Martin Weick, it is reported, left the city some time ago, without leaving any address, as he fears the action of Uncle Sam; for, it is asserted, Federal officers found a great quantity of Bolshevist and German propaganda against the U. S. government in printed matter in Mr. Weick's cellar.

'"What became of his sons, who were working for him in the factory?" asked Presto's representative of the young man at the club. "Those boys were not his sons," replied the young man. "Weick only pretended they were his sons so that he would get a good standing in the community. Anybody who has a bill to collect from Mr. Weick will have a time getting his money, I should judge."

Note: Subsequently, The Weick Mfg. Co. is acquired by Paragon Manufacturing Co. and continues on until the crash of 1929, but there is no further mention of Martin Weick's involvement.

 

The Geib & Schaefer Factory

The old G&S factory building is still standing as of 2013. The last additions were completed by 1918. This was the main Geib production facility until 1968.

 

 

Geib & Schaefer Company Factory Building,

Completed 1918, 1751-57 N. Central Park, Chicago, Illinois

(Images courtesy of ericjohnsonphotography@yahoo.com )

 

An aerial view of 1751-57 N. Central Park Ave., showing evidence of enlargements over the years. The red rectangle is the original 1902 building

The elevated Bloomingdale Rail Line can be seen running along the bottom of this photo. It was built as a ground-level line in 1874 but neighborhood pressure finally forced it to be rebuilt as an elevated rail line in 1915. It would be safe to assume that the bold signage on the 1906 factory photo below was also repeated on the opposite side of the building where it would be seen by all passing trains.

 

Comparison of 1906 Photo and 1918 Building

Here's a view of the 1906 factory photo superimposed on a flipped view the existing building completed in 1918. The 25 foot-wide entrance of the existing building is exactly the width of the original 1902 structure. The two photos were taken from slightly different angles but the similarities of the dimensions and windows placement are obvious. The building that stands today has received a new brick facade and numerous additions to the side and rear. The red outline would have been the area of the original building after the second story was added in 1903. In the 1906 photo the area to the right would have been the empty portion of the property that is now occupied by later additions. On the opposite side of the building to the left would have been W. Bloomingdale Ave. and the Bloomingdale rail line. Why does the 1906 photo have wood siding but the newer building has brick? Look closely at the interior walls of the shop floor photo at the beginning of the story. The 1902 building was built of brick with decorative wood siding applied, a common style for industrial buildings of that day in Chicago. During later enlargements the wood was stripped off.

 

The Geib plaque (and corporate seal) from the old factory, courtesy of Jeff Geib

 

1922 - Founding member Charles A. Geib dies, December 18, 1921

 

January 9, 1922 - Music Trade Review*

The passing of Charles Geib, president of Geib & Schaefer, Inc., manufacturers of band instruments, 1757 North Central Park avenue, this city, following a sudden attack of diphtheria, is deeply mourned by his many friends among the music fraternity. Mr. Geib was only forty-five years old. The deceased leaves a widow, six children and a brother, Nicholas Geib, who has assumed the management of the business.

 

 

1923 - William C. Schaeffer leaves to start new company, G&S completes new factory

 

January 2, 1923 - Music Trade Review*

SCHAEFFER CO. ORGANIZED

New Chicago Corporation to Manufacture and Sell Cases for Musical Instruments

One of the most important features of the musical merchandize, which just closed was the organization of the Schaeffer Co., a corporation which will manufacture and sell cases for musical instruments. This concern is now engaged in the erection of a large new factory building at the corner of North Springfield Avenue and Cortland St. The factory will be completed very shortly and soon the firm will be distributing cases to the trade from the new plant. The new building is of steel and brick, 275 by 125 feet, thoroughly modern in every detail of construction and equipment, including the most up-to-date machinery.

Wm. C. Schaeffer, the president, began making cases twenty-six years ago. (1897) Three years later he was one of the organizers of Geib & Schaeffer, who for many years were well known to the trade as manufacturers of high-grade cases. He served as vice-president of this firm and designed the most popular cases turned out by Geib & Schaeffer. He resigned last year to participate in the formation of the new concern.

His partners have been engaged in the manufacture of cases for more than fifteen years.

Cases will be manufactured for the trade under the trade-marked name, "Shabro." About two hundred hands will be employed in the new factory.

The location of William Schaeffer's new factory is about a quarter mile down the street from the house of his father, Jacob Schaefer, and half a mile from the G&S factory. Nothing more has been found about this company or Shabro cases. It could have been a short-lived venture, or it's possible they didn't brand their cases or advertise in the trade press.

 

April 7, 1923 - Music Trade Review*

TO INCREASE PRODUCTION

Geib & Schaefer Build Addition to Factory to Increase Production Capacity

Chicago, Ill., March 31. - Geib & Schaefer, manufacturers of musical instrument cases, with headquarters at 1753 North Central Park Avenue, have already broken ground for a building which will add 25,000 more square feet to their factory. The large demand for musical instrument cases has compelled them to increase their production. Along with the new building will be many new improvements to the factory in the way of machinery, etc.

 

Here is another conundrum. A new factory is being built in 1923, but exactly what is the location? The article above makes it sound like they're adding onto the headquarters building at 1753 N. Central Park Ave., but that's not possible. In 1918 that building was already 27,000 square feet, which is the size of the building that is still standing there today, and there's no more room on that lot. The article below says that the "old factory" at 711 Central Park Avenue is being "practically demolished" and a new 45,000 square foot building built in its place. So, this 1923 factory was being built at a different location than the headquarters. The location can't be 711 "North" Central Park Ave. as that is the middle of a residential block. Also, 711 "South" Central Park is likewise occupied be some large old apartment buildings and seems unlikely to be a factory location. (There is no possibility of a 711 other than 711 North or 711 South.) However, if 711 was a number from prior to the 1909 street number change (perhaps still being used in 1923?) it equates today to approximately 1378 N. Central Park Ave., which is a large triangular lot about half a mile south of headquarters and next to the railroad tracks. There is also evidence of old footings of a large building. Could this have been the location of the 1923 building? If so, it seems likely that the 1930's depression-era downturn in business led to this building being abandoned and later destroyed.

 

Possible Location of 1923 Geib Factory at "711 Central Park Ave."

This is about one half mile south of Geib headquarters

(Due to street renumbering this is approximately 1378 N. Central Park Ave. today)

 

September 1, 1923 - Music Trade Review*

GEIB & SCHAEFER COMPLETE FACTORY

The new factory which has been under construction for Geib & Schaefer, manufacturers of musical instrument cases, during many months, has finally been completed. As a matter of fact, the old factory at 711 Central Park Avenue was practically demolished and the new building erected in its place. It is now one of the largest and most up-to-date factories of its kind, two stories high, with about 45,000 square feet of space. Arrangements have also been made to build additional stories as the production demands. On the first floor in the front are the general and private offices, with the wood-working, assembling and shipping departments. The second floor comprises the finishing department and stockroom. An experimental department has also been arranged for developing new styles. The new factory enables the manufacturers to double their production with the additional help, space and new machinery that have been secured, and it was in accordance with their policy of rendering service that these extensive plans have been made. A very big fall and one of the largest years in the history of the business are looked for this year.

Clarence Geib, assistant general manager, will leave his duties for a short while this month, during which time he will be married to Miss Dorothy O'Neill, of Chicago.

 

Note: Clarence Geib mentioned in this article is the oldest son of founder Charles A. Geib

 

July 7, 1923 - Music Trade Review*

NEW FACTORY NEARS COMPLETION

Geib & Schaefer Co., Manufacturer of Musical Instrument Cases and Bags, Makes Extensive Improvements and Erects Large New Factory

CHICAGO, ILL., July 2.- The new factory being built by Geib & Schaefer next to the old factory site at 1753 North Central Park avenue, this city, is nearing completion and is expected to be finished by next month. With 20,000 square feet added to the old factory production facilities will be greatly increased. It was on account of the policy of the manufacturers to give prompt service that additions were made, as the demand for the product is steadily increasing.

The very latest machinery and equipment will be installed in the new factory and everything provided to care for the growing demand.

 

1924 - New factory building, introduction of KantKrak cases

 

February 23, 1924 - Music Trade Review*

Geib & Schaefer Complete Large New Factory

New Plant Contains 50,000 Square Feet of Floor Space With Provision for Enlargement as Increased Business Warrants

The completion of the new Geib & Schaefer factory at 711 Central Park avenue recently marks the culmination of the growth this company has experienced during the past quarter century. Nineteen hundred and twenty-four is an important date in the history of these manufacturers of musical instrument cases which now celebrates its twenty fifth anniversary. Ever since its foundation by the late Charles Geib they have maintained the high quality, perfection of workmanship and, consistency of prices which have been fundamental in its growth.

Geib & Schaefer are now able, with the new addition, to double their production, thus insuring prompt deliveries. This factory represents one of the largest and most modern factories of its kind. It is two stories high, containing about 50,000 square feet of space, while arrangements have been made to build additional stories as the business demands.

The business has been built up by the company through such leading jobbers as the Wurlitzer Co., Lyon & Healy, Inc., Tonk Bros., Win. Lewis, J. W. Jenkins' Sons Co. and many others. Although the entire line manufactured by this company is very popular with the trade, there is an exceptionally large demand for the Kant Krack Quality cases, which shows the satisfaction that this line has met with throughout the trade. The patented Kant Krack case is made of a special fabric which has been developed in the Geib & Schaefer plant. This case, as its name suggests, really cannot crack. Another line that is meeting with much favor is the Geib & Schaefer canvas, keratol and leather cases and they are especially popular with the trade that desires a medium-priced case.

Throughout the Geib & Schaefer plant pride of craftsmanship can be found among the employees, who take personal interest in their work. Most of the employees of this concern have been with the company for a great length of time and have put forth their best efforts to build up the large business this company does.

 

Home of Nicholas V. Geib, 451 Greenfield St., Chicago, Il

 

Geib & Schaefer Locations of Interest

(This neighborhood is about 5 miles northwest of the downtown Chicago Loop)

1. 1739 Hancock Avenue (now renamed Drake Ave.) Original site of Geib & Schaefer from 1899 to 1902

2. 1751-57 N. Central Park Ave. (was renumbered from 951 in 1909) The Geib & Schaefer factory from 1902 to 1977

3. 3635 Cortland St., Home of Jacob U. Schaefer, co-founder of Geib & Schaefer

4. North Springfield and Cortland, site of Schaefer Company, founded in 1922 by William C. Shaefer, son of Jacob Schaefer

5. 3700 W. North Ave., Geib headquarters and factory from 1967 to 1977

6. "711" Central Park Ave., possible location of 1923 factory building, current street numbering is 1378 N. Central Park Ave.

7. 451 Greenfield St., home of Nicholas V. Geib. Not on this map but about 3.5 miles west of 1757 N. Central Park Ave.

 

March 1924 - Music Trade Review*

Large demand for KantKrack Quality cases, also canvas, keratol and leather cases.

Note: The KantKrack brand had been recently introduced.

 

A G&S Masterkraft Case for the Legendary Gibson F-5 Lloyd Loar Mandolin

 

1925 - New Catalog

 

September 19, 1925 - Music Trade Review*

Geib & Schaefer Issue New Catalog of Line
Well-known Case Manufacturer of Chicago Lists Number of New Items in Fall Line

The Geib & Schaefer Co., 1751-57 North Central Park avenue, manufacturer of musical instrument cases, has issued a new catalog folder describing and illustrating a number of its more popular cases and new additions to the line. Several leaders in violin cases are shown made of the Kant Krack Shell. This is an exclusive feature of the Geib & Schaefer cases, made by a special patented process and classed as a composition material.

Kant Krack cases are made of several thicknesses of fabric treated with certain chemicals and baked into shape under high pressure. The result is a seamless, practically unbreakable case which enjoys a large demand because of its neatness and general durability.

Styles of Koverlet cases are shown in the violin and tenor-banjo. The Koverlet designates a blanket which covers the instrument completely and protects it from falling out or exposure of any kind. It is made of a firm material, hinged onto the cases, padded and covered with the same material as the lining. Several new styles are also shown.

 

Kant Krack cases were made of a composite material which included sizing and rosin, among other ingredients. The mixture, along with layers of burlap reinforcement, was placed in two-part metal molds which were heated over a gas flame to cure the material. Needless to say, the room where Kank Krak cases were being baked is said to have been like stepping into a sauna. The first Kant Krak cases that were produced were for French Horns, then came other orchestral instruments, violins, and even guitars.(4) Kant Krack cases were light and strong, sort of the high-tech "carbon fiber" cases of the day.

(4) Jerry Bowers

 

A late 1930's DuraBilt branded case made with the Kant Krack process.

The technology allows gently rounded forms. A worn spot shows the burlap structure

 

October 31, 1925 - Music Trade Review*

Geib & Schaefer Go. Plant Now Working Overtime
Additional Equipment Also Installed in Chicago Musical Instrument Case Factory to Keep Up With Demand

The large demand for stringed and brass instruments is emphasized at the busy plant of the Geib & Schaefer Co., manufacturer of musical instrument cases, located at 1753 North Central Park avenue, this city.

The heavy demand for the Geib & Schaefer line of cases has necessitated operating the plant on an overtime schedule and also increasing the production with the installation of some new machines and additional help. Nic Geib, president of the company, reports that the business shows an increase of 10 per cent over last year, which was the largest year in the history of the company, and with the continual increase in business, 1925 will break all previous records.

 

1927 - New Catalog

 

February 5, 1927 - The Music Trade Review*

New Catalog Issued by Geib & Schaefer Go.
New Publication of Chicago House Lists Many Novelties in Company's 1927 Line

The Geib & Schaefer Co., manufacturer of the Kant-Krack, Mastercraft three-ply Veneer, and Utility lines of quality musical instrument and specialty cases, 1751-57 North Central Park avenue, has issued an attractive new catalog illustrating and describing the entire line and introducing several new cases.

"Durability is the keynote struck in the manufacture of all of Geib & Schaefer products," says the foreword of the booklet. "This durability is of such a kind that the case becomes an integral part of the instrument itself, and as treasured a possession."

The index to the catalog which follows shows an unusually large line of cases and bags for all musical instruments as well as accessories. The band instrument cases are shown in the first section and for the convenience of the trade diagrams are given so that correct measurements can be specified according to the chart when ordering these cases.

As the company is now making many styles and sizes with different materials, the various trade-marks of the different materials are introduced, including the "Utility" lines, "Mastercraft" line and "Kant Krack" line. The attractive illustrations also show the material used.

Among the new articles recently brought out and shown in the catalog are the bow cases constructed of selected basswood, dovetailed edges, with rounded corners, and also baton cases constructed of basswood.

The cornet and trumpet cases that have gained such wide popularity during the past year with the introduction of the patented slide block feature are shown with shells made of the patented Kant Krack composition process covered with keratol and with nickel trimmings.

In addition to the extensive line of violin cases made in the Kant Krack, Utility and Mastercraft materials, a line of violin cases made in selected skins such as walrus, shark, alligator, cowhide, etc., with De Luxe Kant Krack shell, are likewise introduced together with Koverlet cases. The latter designates a blanket or cover which protects the instrument from falling out, moisture or exposures of any kind.

An attractive line of novelty cases is also introduced. These cases for stringed instruments are made in fancy colors such as blue, green, tan, etc. The utility line is constructed of heavy chipboard and flannel lined with colors to match the outside of the case, while the Kant Krack line is made of Kant Krack shell, covered with cobra grain keratol and the linings are silk plush.

 

Geib & Schaefer Ad, 1927 Music Trade Review

 

 

An Excellent Example of a Pre-War Geib & Schaefer Case

This Was Their Top-of-the-Line MasterKraft Brand

 

March 1927 - Nicholas V. Geib is President, Ambrose Geib is Secretary of Geib & Schaefer

 

March 1927 - Music Trade Review*

The four lines featured by the company are the KantKrack, Utility, Quality Canvas and MasterKraft. Cases offered for cello, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, violin. N. V. Geib, is president, Ambrose Geib, secretary

 

Nicholas V. Geib (1906)

 

Nicholas V. Geib, had assumed the management of the business when his brother Charles A Geib had died in 1921. Charles's will had placed his estate in the control a group of trustees. In March 1927 Ambrose Geib, son of Charles Geib, bought two thirds of the stock from his late father's estate. The agreement was for Ambrose to put part of the money down and make payments on the remainder. Nic Geib co-signed the note for his nephew Ambrose. The same month the Music Trade Review names N.V. Geib as company president and Ambrose Geib as Secretary of the company. These two have a very close working relationship throughout the years.

 

Somewhere about this time Ambrose expressed an interest in buying the majority of the company from Nic. The timing is not quite certain but it may have been in the 1930's after Ambrose finished paying off the stock purchase from the estate. Nic owned two thirds of the company and Ambrose owned one third.  They had a handshake agreement. Ambrose said "I have a third of the company, and you have two thirds now." "When I get enough money I'll buy you out or at least I'll buy a majority." At that time everything was done with a handshake. But a few years later the company started doing great. (This was probably after the Depression was over.) When the agreed upon time came Ambrose had enough money put aside but the deal never happened. Nic, as smart as he was, realized "I've got a gold mine here; I'm not going give it up." So it stayed that way throughout the years. Nic Senior was president and two thirds owner, and Ambrose was a one third owner.(5)

(5) John Geib

 

The 1918 Thomas Poole story states that Nicholas V. Geib was founder of the veneer molds, fibre, and woodworking departments of Geib & Schaefer. John Geib, son of Ambrose confirms that "Nic Geib loved the mill room, that was his baby." "He loved the wood work. "He loved to walk through there every day and talk to the workman, talk to the foreman and see things made. "He didn't get involved himself with this hands but he was in there every day. "Most of the time he was down there from 8:30 to 4:00. "One of the reasons he was down there was that his wife wouldn't let him smoke at home. "He liked to smoke cigars and he couldn't smoke in his house but down there in the mill room he could, so he spent a lot of time there."

 

Ambrose Geib

Ambrose's title as company secretary would imply a role of providing legal guidance, but the description of his actual duties is sounds more like a Chief Operating Officer (COO). John Geib recalls his father's involvement in the business, saying: "Ambrose was the one who planned production for the whole company." "He would meet with the department foremen and review production, check with the office on sales each day. "He would also go out on the road, get new customers and see old customers. "He had a lunch time almost every day with someone from the Harmony company or Kay, Sears or Wards or a vendor. "Anybody like that he would take out to lunch to keep business going. "So he was a very important part of the company."

 

"The foremen just loved Ambrose." "He would walk around the shop and talk to all the employees. "He would actually join in and work if he saw a need. "He would look over and say to the foreman 'You've got a vacant sewing machine there' and the foreman would say 'I've got that guy sick today.' "Ambrose would jump right on a machine and start sewing soft shell cases. "He did different things like that in all the departments. "He just loved to communicate with the people and treated them 100%."

 

"Ambrose was known to help out people who were having hard times or needed a job." "He might give them a hand out, or say 'I've got a job down at the shop come and see me.' "And he would hire them whether the company needed them or not. "He would help anyone. "Sometimes he got suckered. "But he would say 'You just can't let people waste away like that, you've got to find them employment, to make them proud of what they're doing.'"

 

"One of the reasons why everybody respected Ambrose so much was his high moral values." "He would take a bunch of customers out or go to a convention, and if someone would start telling a smut story or a dirty story he would get up and leave. "He would tell them 'I don't care if I lose the business, I do not communicate this way.'  "And he was so well respected for this; that where ever he went people just understood this and treated him with utmost respect."

 

May 28 1927 - Music Trade Review*

Many exhibits at the forthcoming convention of the Music Industries will be enhanced with the High Lustre Plush, manufactured by the High Lustre Plush Co., of 1751 North Central Park avenue, of which Frank Meter, of Geib & Schaefer Co., is president. Mr. Meter announces that High Lustre Plush is used by dealers throughout the country in window displays as it makes an unusually striking background for display.

 

May 28 1927 - Music Trade Review*

GEIB & SCHAEFER CO. Chicago, 111. Will display its regular line of musical Instrument cases at Hotel Stevens. Nic. V. Gelb, Ambrose C. Geib and Frank A. Meter will be in charge.

 

September 24, 1927 - Music Trade Review*

Musical Merchandise Men of Chicago Play Golf
Local Jobbers and Manufacturers Have Lively Tournament at Brookwood Country Club on September 15

CHICAGO, II . , September 17.—Sixteen local jobbers and manufacturers gathered at the Brookwood Country Club on Thursday, September 15th, to attend the golf tournament held by the Association of Musical Merchandise Manufacturers of the Chicago Zone.

The members and guests drove out to the Brookwood Country Club, about twenty miles from Chicago, in the morning and had lunch, following which the foursomes were made up among the following members who were present: F. R. Johnson, President of the Globe Music Co.; A. E. Hunter, Vice-President of the Regal Musical Instrument Co.; H. H. Slingerland, President of the Slingerland Banjo Co., H. K. Kuhrmeyer, Stromberg-Voisinet Co., J. R. Stewart, President J. R. Stewart Co., Walter M. Gotsch, President Walter M. Gotsch Co., Nic and Ambrose Geib, Geib & Schaefer Co., J. J. D. Taylor, Waverly Musical Products Co., Inc., Jay Kraus, Harmony Co., J. L. Luellan, Continental Music Co.. M. H. Berlin and C. E. Barber, Chicago Musical Instrument Co., E. A. Hartman, Conn Chicago Co., Paul Moennig and A. Abicht, Tonk Bros. Co.

Although a downpour of rain added to the handicaps of this sporty course, some good golf was played and Berlin of the Chicago Musical Instrument Co. took the low net honors with a gross score of 93, handicap of 18, and net 75, while Kuhrmeyer won the low gross with a score of 89. Both winners received a set of golf sticks, presented at a dinner held at the club in the evening where amid much good fellowship the outing was voted a huge success.

In the tournament a foursome composed of John Luellen, Paul Moennig,. Nic Geib and Al Hunter, Messrs. Geib and Moennig established a record in playing the water holes. There are seven water hazards on this beautiful eighteen-hole course and on the seventeenth hole Geib put seven balls into the creek, and Moennig ran a close second with five. This is reputed to be a course record.

The prize that this foursome was playing for was a tenor guitar made by Al Hunter, of the Regal Musical Instrument Co., and a case to fit designed by Nic Geib, of Geib & Schaefer. Sad to relate, but the two jobbers, Messrs. Moennig and Luellen, won a prize. This is the first year that Mr. Moennig has taken up golf and we understand he shot 104 all by himself one day. John Luellen wields considerable mashie.

 

1928 - New Trademarks: Com-Po, Challenge and Durabilt

 

December 1928 - Music Trade Review*

Geib & Schaefer is the "World's Largest Manufacturers of Musical Instrument Cases"

 

November 24, 1928 - Music Trade Review*

Two new lines announced with trademark names of "Com-Po" and "Challenge".

 

August 18, 1928 - Music Trade Review*

The Geib & Schaefer Co., manufacturer of the well-known brands of Kant Krack, Quality Canvas, Utility, and Mastercraft cases, announces that a new line of cases will be introduced very shortly to the trade, bearing the trade mark brand of "Durabilt." These cases will be made under the well known Kant Krack process to sell at a popular price and meet the competition of imported cases.

 

1929 - Puritan Cases and Dul-C-Ton Phonographs

 

1929 - Music Trade Review*

G&S first advertises trademarked "Puritan" cases and "Dul-C-Ton" portable phonographs. G&S advertises new "patent-applied-for" Masterkraft accordion cases. G&S Factory running overtime during month of November. Accordian case with new features — Split Top, Masterkraft construction, Laminated Bass wood, Fabrikoid covering, Boar grain, Top and end leather handles, Heavy metal trimmings, Linings in duvetyn, corduroy, cotton plush, silk plush.

 

1929 - Music Trade Review*

Factory running overtime during month of November due to large number of musical instrument cases.

 

Geib Phonograph

(Last known advertisement of Geib Phonographs is in 1947)

 

A Tradeshow Display of Geib Phonographs, probably late 1940's

 

1930 - Megaphones

 

July 27, 1930 - Music Trade Review*

Geib & Schaefer buys fibre and side opening chip board music instrument case departments of Consolidated Case Corp, Inc., including megaphones.

 

October 1930 - Music Trade Review*

Catalog Issued on Geib & Schaefer Megaphones

The Geib & Schaefer Co., Chicago, Ill., widely celebrated makers of musical instrument cases of superior quality, continue to expand their manufacturing lines and increase the items which bear the well-known Geib & Schaefer label. They have just issued a small folder, illustrated, showing the complete line of megaphones they make in different material in many sizes, and a Meg-o-rack or folding stand holder for megaphones. Their megaphones are made of trunk fibre with nickel mouthpieces, and the smaller models come in seven, nine, twelve and fifteen inch sizes. Then the middle group runs from eighteen to twenty-eight inches.

Style No. 3321 Geib & Schaefer megaphone is equipped with nickel handles and a heavy rim at the large end and nickel-plated mouthpiece. These run from eighteen to thirty-six inches in size.

 

Music Trade Review 1930

 

Advertisement from 1930 Music Trade Review*

 

July, 1931 - Music Trade Review*

FRANK S. METER FINDS TRADE MORE ACTIVE

The first week in February Sales Manager Frank S. Meter, Geib & Schaefer, was perhaps one of the busiest men in Chicago, for,  in addition to his maintaining constant contact with the company's distributors, he took over part of the work of Nic and Ambrose Geib, both of whom were confined to their homes with severe attacks of influenza. He had just come back from a comprehensive trip which embraced practically almost all of the distributors of Geib & Schaefer products. He visited the principal towns in the East and Central points in the mid-west and in the Mississippi Valley and was quite pleased about business. He said: "I found the manufacturers and distributors to be busier - that is, they had more orders and were making more shipments - than for four or five months past, and consequently their orders for Geib & Schaefer cases and other products that we make were greater. Without exception, all of them were not only pleased with the present amount of orders they are getting, but optimistic about the future, judged from what their customers report to them."

 

1934 - New Case Styles

 

Starting in 1934 Geib & Schaefer built special cases for top-of-the-line Gibson Super 400, Super J-200, and L-5 guitars. The cases were covered with brown leather, and newly available chemical dyes made possible a bright magenta silk plush lining. After World War II Gibson was to specify these colors for Gibson-branded cases that were produced by both Geib and Lifton. In the 1950's the color scheme became most closely associated with Lifton as they also used similar colors for Lifton-badged cases sold to the general trade.

 

1936 Gibson L-5

 

1936 Gibson Super 400

 

1938 Super J-200

 

 

Geib & Schaefer "Red Line" and "Tweed" cases are produced from approximately the mid-1930's to the early 1940's.

 

1936

 

July 1936 - Music Trade Review - Last known published mention of "Geib & Schaefer" as the name of the company.

June-July 1936 Presto-Times lists Geib & Schaefer, Chicago in it's annual listing of manufacturers

June-July 1937 Presto-Times does not list Geib & Schaefer

 

1937 - Geib Inc. replaces Geib & Schaefer

By 1937 - Cases are being stamped "GEIB Inc.", also the Geib medallion begins to be seen on some cases. The reason for the incorporation is not known. It had been about ten years since Nicholas and Ambrose Geib had become joint owners of the company, with Nic owning two thirds and Ambrose owning one third. It had been many years since any Schaefer's were involved in ownership or management of the company, so it made sense to shorten the name to Geib when incorporating.

 

1939 - Published use of "Geib, Inc."

July 1939 - Music Trade Review contains published advertisements using the company name: Geib Inc.

 

 

 

A Geib Tweed Chipboard Case, ca. 1939

Marked with oval stamp "Geib, Inc. Puritan Trademark" on the bottom and "G" embossed on latch

The 1939 Montgomery Wards Catalog below shows an identical case. It's very probable that these are all Geib cases.

 

Geib produced cases for many instrument manufacturers which were built to their specifications.

The 1938 National catalog above says the tweed covering was selected for use on National Cases.

Below is an identical case for a National steel guitar that is marked "Geib"

 

Instrument manufacturers that Geib was known to build for include: Gibson, National, Olds, King and many others.

 

Late 1930's through 1940's Geib builds cases for guitar amplifiers, including Gibson amps. These have the metallic Geib medallion.

 

1942-45: War Time Production

The company was quite busy during the war years. During the duration of World War II many factories curtailed normal production and substituted military contract work that was suited to the factory's equipment and labor force. Geib had sewing machines that were used to make cardboard cases. They were able to repurpose those capabilities to sew small canvas goods for the army. Geib did continue to produce instrument cases as well during this time.

 

 

1942 Shovel Cover, made by Geib, Inc.

 

 

1944 M1 Carbine Magazine Pouch, made by Geib, Inc.

 

1947 - Nicholas J. Geib, Yachtsman

Nicholas J. Geib, son of Nicholas V. Geib, has a 40 foot yacht built. Over the next several years he wins many races on the Great Lakes and participates in the annual Miami to Havana yacht races.

 

Sport: Geib's Jibe
Monday, Aug. 06, 1956

Saltwater skippers like to downgrade the 333-mile Chicago-to-Mackinac Island sailing race; Lake Michigan's waters are troubled with no tidal rips, no tide-fouled soundings to try the seamanship of the racing yachtsman. Still, the "world's longest race on drinking water" is no pleasure cruise for landlubbers; it has hazards enough of its own. Foul weather makes up out of nowhere, fog abounds, squalls are sharp and sudden. By playing those unpredictable elements shrewdly last week, Nicholas J. Geib, 39, a manufacturer of musical-instrument cases, brought home his nimble 39-ft. yawl Fleetwood through the Straits...

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,862342,00.html#ixzz1sAm6xvjH

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,862342,00.html#ixzz1sAlveGo1

Note: Nicholas J. Geib, born 1917, is the son of Nicholas V. Geib.

1956: Yachting
National Events.

The outstanding event on the West Coast was the 3,571-mi. Los Angeles-to-Tahiti race with five starters, all Californians. It was won by the smallest of them, Bill Sturgis' 56-ft. yawl Jada, from San Marino. The midwest standouts were the two Mackinac Island races. Nic Geib's 38 1/2-ft. yawl Fleetwood took the 333-mi. race to the island from Chicago. It was her third over-all triumph and the fifth in her division.

 

 

The Garfieldian, November 20, 1947

PHONOGRAPHS SAVE Buy Your Phonograph for your Christmas Gift Direct From Factory at Reduced Costs GEIB INC 1751 N Central Park Ave

 

1948- New Economo Trademark Registered

 

On Tuesday, June 08, 1948, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for ECONOMO by GEIB, INCORPORATED, CHICAGO , . The USPTO has given the ECONOMO trademark serial number of 71558712. The current federal status of this trademark filing is EXPIRED. The description provided to the USPTO for ECONOMO is CASES FOR MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS-NAMELY, GUITAR, VIOLIN, TENOR BANJO, VIOLA, TRUMPET, CORNET, TROMBONE, AND MANDOLIN CASES.

 

1964 Wholesale Catalog - with Geib "Economo" Cases

 

 

An example of a Geib "Economo" Case

 

The Geib Factory Workforce in Action

Cutting Materials for Cases

Building Guitar Cases

Applying Keratol Covering

Operating Riveting Machine to Install Hardware

Workers at the Riveter

Preparing Linings for Installation in Cases

Installing Plush Lining in Violin Cases

Shipping Department

 

1951 - Nic J. Geib, is Vice President of Geib, Inc.

 

Nic J. Geib

 

THE MUSIC TRADE REVIEW, SEPTEMBER, 1951

Musical Instrument Manufacturers Industry Advisory Committee

The National Production Authority, U. S. Department of Commerce, has announced the membership list of the Musical Instrument Mfrs. Industry Advisory Committee as follows:

N. J. Geib, Vice President, Geib, Inc., Chicago, III.; T. M. McCarty, President, Gibson, Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich.; Roy N. Bailey, President, Jackson Guldan Violin Co., Columbus, Ohio; Wm. Kratt, President, Wm. Kratt Co., Union, N. J.; E. P. Diesbach, Krauth and Benninghoefen, Hamilton, Ohio; C. Frederick Martin, President, C. F. Martin and Co., Inc., Nazareth, Pa.; Frank Gibson, Jr., Vice President, National Musical String Co., New Brunswick, N. J.; Donald D. Randall, Gen. Mgr., Radio and Television Equip. Co., Santa Ana, Calif, and Donald C. Lomb, Waverly Musical Prod. Co., New York, N. Y.

 

Although Nicolas J. Geib was named vice president of the company, he really wasn't a business man at heart. His father, Nicholas V. Geib, had raised him indulgently. He was an accomplished sportsman who excelled in horsemanship and sailing. He was said to be a near-concert-quality pianist.(6) He was an outstanding yachtsman and won many trophies, but his sailing adventures took him away from the business for three or four months at a time. His Uncle Ambrose had tried to coach him on the importance of maintaining relationships with the various customers but he didn't seem too interested.(7)

(6) Jerry Bowers

(7) John Geib

 

Ambrose Geib Faces Health Issues

Ambrose Geib had been company secretary of Geib since 1927. John Geib, recalls his father's struggle with health problems. "In the mid 1950's Ambrose began to experience some physical problems. "He went to one of the foreman and said 'Pete I've been walking along and I kept going to the left and going to the right.' "'It's like I've been drinking.' "Pete said, 'Put some chalk on your feet and make your regular gait down there and let me see if I can follow it.' "And he couldn't. He said 'Something's wrong here', so he went to the doctor. "The doctor said, 'well we don't know what's wrong with you.' "'You might have what's called Multiple Scleroses but there's no cure for it, so you just have to make the best of it.' "So Ambrose went off to the Spears Chiropractic Council of Denver Colorado, who dealt with this area. "As soon as the family doctor heard that he was going to a chiropractor they wouldn't talk to him anymore, because chiropractors and regular medicine didn't get along."

 

"Ambrose had a masseuse come to his house four times a week to exercise him, work his legs and keep his muscle tone. "That's the only thing that kept him going for the next 20 years was his therapy. "Although his body was gradually deteriorating he continued to actively run the company over the years. "He was there every single day of the week, five days a week. "He had a driver, a male nurse actually, who would bring him down and put him on a couch in his office and the different foremen would come in and he would talk to them about production, how many cases they were producing a day. "Then he'd get hold of the office and find out what the sales were each day. "He would sit there and his driver would go down and get different customers, and he would talk to customers. "His mind was completely sharp, just his body completely deteriorated. "He would stay there three quarters of a day, and then his driver would take him back home."

 

The Changing Workforce

John Geib recalls the changes in the workforce over the years: "In the early 1950's there was still an older group of workers at Geib that just loved working there." "They took a lot of pride in what they produced. "They would get on each other if they saw something that wasn't perfect. "They'd bring it back to another person and say 'you didn't do this right; you don't want this going out looking like this.'" "And that lasted probably until the early 1960's when most of them were gone. "The demographics of the area were changing as people moved out to the suburbs and new immigrants came in. "At first there were a bunch of 'Southern boys' who came in and joined the workforce. "Then there was an influx of Cubans and then Puerto Rican's; and Geib started to employ them. "They were decent workers but not dependable. "They would show up two or three days and miss a day or two. "Especially after payday on Friday, you wouldn't see them Monday. "So it was quite different, and attitudes had changed. "They were just in it to make a buck; to survive.

 

"But management had good relationships with these newer workers. "Nic V. Geib had a great disposition, and always treated everyone the same, from department heads to the workers. "When he was walking around the factory he would greet each person. "In the later years we had a lot of Puerto Rican's and Cuban's working and he would go up to each one of them and say hi to them and talk with them. "He was a very cheerful person. "He was very good to people."

 

1950's Cases

As the 1950's continued fewer Geib-branded cases are seen. The company had been producing cases for Gibson since it's founding in 1906, as well as many other instrument manufacturers. In the postwar era these instrument manufacturers began asking for their own branding on the cases instead of Geib. As a result it can be difficult to be sure of the builder of these cases. Here's an example. This Gibson-branded case has tan exterior and pink plush interior; colors usually associated with Lifton cases. If not for the Geib medallion it would be identified as a Lifton, since it was built to Gibson specifications.

1952 Gibson Les Paul case made by Geib, Inc.

 

John Geib

 

John Geib, son of Ambrose Geib, began working part-time for Geib, Inc. in 1952. He went into military service in 1954. When he got out in 1956 he returned to employment at Geib and remain there until he left in 1975. Ambrose had intentions for his son to take over the business one day, so he had John learn everything. He started in the boiler room and learned how to run that, and then every facet of the company: the mill room, the shipping room, upstairs in the hard shell case department, even lining, covering, stapling, riveting; then sewing over in the Economo department where they made the cardboard cases. There wasn't a job that he didn't do. He didn't like it at the time, but his Dad said "You start at the bottom because when you talk to people you've got to know what you're talking about." And of course, he was later grateful for having had all those experiences. Eventually he took on the responsibility of overseeing production of the various departments: making sure material was ordered, communicating back and forth with the foremen downstairs and the foreman of the other two departments.

Note: John Geib has provided many of the personal details regarding Ambrose, Nicholas V. Geib and Nicholas J. Geib that appear in this story.

 

Jerry Bowers (Geib)

Jerry was the grandson of Nicholas V. Geib. His mother Elizabeth and his Uncle Nicholas J. Geib were both children of N.V. Geib. Around 1951 Jerry Bowers returned home from service in the Korean War and went to work for Geib. During the next several years Jerry got his engineering degree by attending night school in Chicago while working at Geib.

 

Jerry Bowers (Geib) working on the Fleetwood yacht

 

Costa Mesa Plant Established

A Geib plant was established in Southern California around 1951, in the city of Costa Mesa. It was in the small industrial district at the western end of the city, although the exact location is not known. This plant produced chipboard cases and served as a distribution point for cases built in Chicago. The operation was originally run by the man who had built the Fleetwood yacht for Nicolas J. Geib. Presumably their friendship led him to get this opportunity but apparently it wasn't going well, so within a few years Nic V. Geib sent Jerry Bowers out to run things. The operation was closed in approximately 1959 and Jerry Bowers returned to Chicago.

 

1959- Geib Pioneers Vacuum-Formed Instrument Cases: Vac-A-Bond

Geib, Inc. was the first instrument case manufacturer to produce vacuum-formed plastic cases. Nicholas J. Geib was approached by U.S. Rubber who had a material called Royalite which they had been promoting heavily. It was an ABS sheet plastic which was suitable for vacuum-forming. A long list of products had already been produced from this material, ranging from storage bins to Harley-Davidson fenders and saddlebags. A 1952 Royalite ad shows a tackle box with an aluminum valance, and a 1958 Royalite catalog cover shows suitcases produced of Royalite. These were similar applications, but clearly Geib was the first to apply the technology to musical instrument cases and pioneered the use of a foam insert.

 

Nic V. Geib came up with the name Vac-A-Bond and assigned Jerry Bowers to develop the production technology. Jerry developed fiberglass molds and a vacuum system, as well as the urethane foam insert. No one had used a foam liner in a case before. Jerry said "When we first made Vac-A-Bond cases we took an instrument, just the body of the instrument, and submerged it in urethane foam and pulled it out, covered the foam with plush and used that to line the case. "I developed the aluminum extrusions for the valance around the lip of the case and lid and also specified the locks and hinges to fit over the valance, and it became a real strong case. "You could run over those things with a light vehicle and not hurt them."

 

When asked if they ever had problems with foam in vacuum-formed cases Jerry said "Well, you know that was a slurry mix of foam and you had to vent it properly. "Otherwise after you got everything done and a customer put an instrument in the case it would start screwing up the instrument.  "But we solved that problem with proper venting."

 

Geib trademarked the "Vac-A-Bond" brand, and they appeared in the Olds horn company's 1960 price list and the 1962 catalog. Vac-A-Bond cases were produced for orchestral instruments including: trumpet, coronet, trombone, French horn, clarinet, baritone, and violin. The only customer for the Vac-A-Bond cases seems to be Olds and CMI, who owned Olds. Geib produced prototypes of Vac-A-Bond rifle cases but didn't get orders that would allow them to go into production. The Vac-A-Bond horn cases continued to be produced until the demise of the company, and the final sale of Geib, Inc. assets in 1977 included equipment for urethane foam operation and vacuum system.

 

 

 

 

 

1952 Ad for Royalite

 

1958 Royalite Catalog

 

1960's - Ongoing Business Activity

In the 1960's Geib was hiring employees and purchased a new plant.

 

Suburbanite Economist , March 7, 1962

MAN 21 to 35 Full Time Apprenticeship building plastic forming tools GEIB INC

 

The Austin News, July 21, 1965

An Opportunity MALE SEWING MACHINE OPERATORS, Life Insurance, Holidays, Sick time, Good Working Conditions, GEIB INC N CENTRAL PARK AVE

 

John Geib recalls, "We did a lot of those wooden plush-lined guitar cases for Martin." "The biggest item we had was those Economo cases for Gibson. "We were shipping out 1,000 to 1,500 cases a day, and three quarters of that was going to Gibson. "Gibson also had our hard shell cases but the biggest was the Econo cases, that cheap one. "In the mid-1960s we got so busy that we started a night shift, and I ran the night shift. "And we were producing anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 Economo cases a day, and at night time we were doing anywhere from 400 to 500 cases a night with a small crew. "So our sales were just jumping up. "We hit a million dollars in sales and my Dad, Ambrose, just went bananas. This was in the mid-1960.

 

In the post-war era probably two thirds of the cases were built to order directly for the instrument manufacturers, and about one third sold through distributors to retailers. By this time the instrument manufacturers wanted their brand name on the case, so the only cases with the Geib name were the one's sold directly through jobbers to music stores or to Sears and Wards.

 

Non-Instrument cases

Geib had always made some cases for items other than musical instruments. In the very early days of the G&S Company they made leather cases for thermos bottles, a prestigious high-tech item of the day. This was before branding was being applied to cases, so it's not possible to confirm that particular antique thermos cases are Geib-produced. They had also sold phonographs throughout the years; building the cases and installing purchased mechanisms. The phonograph production stopped in the mid-to-late 1950's. They were sold mainly through Sears and Wards. Also in the post-war era Geib had built rifle cases for Browning and Winchester. These cases always had the rifle manufacturer's name and were never Geib branded. So, again, it's impossible to confirm that particular rifle cases were made by Geib.

 

1966 - Nicholas V. Geib Dies

Nic V. Geib was born on June 5, 1880 and died September 1966 at 86 years old. He had remained in control of the company until his health began to fail in the early 1960's. Not long before his death his son, Nicholas J. Geib, who had been Vice President since 1951, took over leadership of the company as President.

 

Estate Sale of Nicholas V. Geib, brother of co-founder Charles Geib. Nicholas had become a partner in 1906.

Oak Park Oak Leaves, October 27, 1966

11 NO. 79th ELMWOOD ILL. Household furnishings to settle estate including Wurlitzer spinet piano, 2-piece living room Zenith living room chairs and air 5-pc. twin bedroom, slant top desk, 10-pc. dining room, elec. 5-pc. dinette set, hospital bed, slate top pool table; automatic washer and gas dryer, maple bedroom furniture, office desk, power mower and lawn sweep; bric-a-brac; glassware, linens, kitchen items and large amount of other furnishings. Estate of Nicholas V. Geib, deceased. Dunning's Auction Service, Elgin SH 1-3483

 

1967 - New Location on North Avenue

Under the leadership of Nic Geib Jr., the company purchased a large building about one quarter mile south of the existing headquarters.

 

November 11, 1967 - Billboard

Geib Adds Plant

Chicago - Geib, Inc. has purchased a new plant that will more than double its musical instrument case manufacturing facilities. The new 5 story, 90,000 square foot facility is located at 3700 W. North Ave. The firm's present headquarters at 1751 N. Central Park will be retained. It is two blocks from the new building. Geib claims to be the world's largest exclusive manufacturer of "quality music cases."

 

November 15, 1967 - Humboldt Journal
North Building Bought By Geib For Expansion

The five-story building at 3700 North Ave. in which it has leased two floors for a number of years has been bought by Geib Inc musical instrument case manufacturers with present headquarters and manufacturing facilities at 1757 N Central Park. Acquisition of the plant with its 90,000 square feet will more than double the Geib Inc manufacturing area according to Nicholas J Geib president. The company has been in the community since it was founded in 1899. The firm will continue to operate also at the Central Park plant, Geib said, but its headquarters will be moved about Jan 1 to the new North location. Renovation of the North building now is under-way including modernization of dock areas, new flooring and the acquisition of an adjoining site for parking that will razing two small buildings on the corner of North and Lawndale. The building was bought from the American Decal and Manufacturing Co for an undisclosed price.

 

River Forest Journal, December 10, 1967

EXPERIENCED SHIPPING RECEIVING CLERK Fringe benefits include Paid Vacation Holidays Life Insurance and GOOD WORKING CONDITIONS GEIB INC 1751 N Central Park

 

Suburbanite Economist , February 4, 1968

EXPERIENCED SHIPPING RECEIVING AND WAREHOUSE CLERK VACATION AND HOLIDAYS LIFE INSURANCE SICK AND DEATH BENEFITS SEE MR. R. W. KEYWORTH, GEIB INC 1751 N. CENTRAL PARK.

(Note: Robert W. Keyworth had been an employee at the Kay Musical Instrument Company, which had recently closed it's doors.)

 

John Geib recalled the expansion to 3704 North Avenue. "It was a huge multi-story building." "I believe the electrical work alone was $150-200,000 dollars to bring it up to code so we could do the work we needed. "He poured so much money into there, and it was twice or three times the amount of space that we needed. "And once we got in there of course we moved out of the Central Park Ave. location into the new building, as soon as it was ready. "We vacated or sold the Central Park Ave. building at that time." (From the employment ads above, we can see that the move had still not happened in February 1968.) "So his cash flow was down the drain, and then we hit a kind of a recession there. "We owed so much money. "He had also spent a lot of money on a beautiful home and a new yacht, and in the end it contributed to everything going belly up."

 

Attempt to Purchase Ess & Ess Music Case Co.

Another decision that Nic Jr. had made was to purchase the Ess & Ess Music Case Co. located in Brooklyn, NY. (The exact date for this is uncertain, but it was obviously in the mid-1960's) The Ess & Ess company had been established in 1950 and the original owner had passed away in 1964. Nic's idea was to regionalize the Geib company and have the Ess & Ess plant provide Geib cases for the East Coast. Apparently this deal was short-lived, or perhaps didn't even go through, as the son of the original owner continued to run the Ess & Ess company until it ultimately closed in 1984.

 

1973 - Nicholas J. Geib, Launches a New Yacht

Nic J. Geib has a new "Fleetwood" yacht built and hosts a gala party to celebrate the launch. Another example of extravagant spending while Geib, Inc. is going broke.

 

 

The New Fleetwood Yacht

 

1975 - Ambrose Geib Dies

 

Ambrose Geib

Death Date: March 1, 1975

Birth Date: Dec 7, 1902

Age: 72

 

John Geib stayed with the company out of loyalty to his father, Ambrose. He said "I could see the writing on the wall." "My Dad was getting pretty bad, he only had a short time left. "I told him, 'Sell your third interest to Nic, he is willing to buy it.' I said 'get out of here.' 'This company's going to go down the drain.' "Of course, my Dad, from the old school, says 'No, we'll keep it, I know you can bring the business back son.' "I only stayed there the last several years because of him. "After he passed away in 1975 I said, 'We're moving out of here'" "I was married and had nine kids at the time. "We moved up to Wisconsin and bought a business up there." "I left less than two years before the end."

 

1976 - The Demise of Geib, Inc.

The failure of Geib, Inc. must be attributed to a combination of factors. One could fault the leadership of Nicholas J. Geib, who hadn't shown the business sense of his father or his Uncle Ambrose. The second contributing cause was the death of Ambrose Geib, who had been an important driving force behind Geib's success for the previous five decades. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, was the extremely challenging economic times. There was an energy crisis; inflation, interest rates and unemployment were all rising. By 1976 many Chicago musical instrument manufacturers had gone out of business. These had included some of Geib's largest customers such as Kay and Harmony. Geib's orders had slowed to a crawl, and combined with their shortage of cash, it became impossible for the business to continue. Production at Geib, Inc. ceased in late 1976. The final sale of assets took place on August 7, 1977. As of 2013 the 1751 North Central Park Ave. plant is still standing but abandoned, and the 3700 W. North Ave. building was demolished sometime before 1988.

 

Aug 7, 1977 - Chicago Tribune

Sale of the assets of GEIB, INC., WEDNESDAY 3704 W. NORTH AVE, AUG. 17th 11 AM CHICAGO ILL, $175,000.00 OF MUSICAL INSTRUMENT CASES

 

 

Note: Slitter Rewinder is to slit and rewind jumbo rolls of material into small rolls with required width. The primary use would have been to prepare materials for chipboard case production. Sewing machines also would have been used for production of chipboard cases. Urethane foam and vacuum system indicates production of ABS plastic vacuum-formed cases.

 

1978 - Nicholas J. Geib Dies

Nicholas J. Geib is the son of Nicholas V. Geib, who in turn was the brother of co-founder Charles Geib.

Social Security Death Index

Nicholas Geib

Last Residence: Oak Park, Ill, 60302

Death Date: Aug 1, 1978

Birth Date: 9 Jun 1917

Person Full name: Nicholas Geib

 

Geib & Schaefer Identification

The earliest Geib & Schaefer canvas and leather cases don't have branding identification, so unfortunately it's impossible to positively attribute individual cases to G&S. The early hard shell cases can be identified by a diamond design on the lid of the accessory pocket. Sometime in the late Teen's they began impressing an oval trademark stamp into the bottom center of the case. It may be missing on some chipboard cases, but present on others. The stamp can be very faint and hard to read or even to locate. Sometimes it is necessary to take a rubbing in order to read the brand identification.

 

 

A single diamond on the lid of the accessory pocket is a distinguishing mark of Geib & Schaefer cases. (A double diamond indicates a Harptone case.) Of course, there are plenty of Geib cases without a diamond, but with other distinguishing marks. The diamond can still be seen into the 1950's on some cases.

 

Soon after the change of the company name to Geib, Inc., a Geib medallion begins to appears inside some cases. The medallion can be found on the top or bottom of the pocket lid, the side of the pocket facing the instrument body, or sometimes elsewhere on the case interior. At first the medallion says only "GEIB, Chicago." Later versions also include the trademark, such as "MasterKraft." The stamp imprint continued to be used concurrently for a while. Other identifying marks include a "G" or "Geib" imprinted on the case hardware.

 

 

 

  

 

 

A Summary of G&S TRADEMARKS:

 

G&S Quality Canvas trademark
Cases are all the name implies. We use a very heavy grade of strawboard covered with a fine quality canvas, heavy fleeced lined, edges are bound with Keratol, leather handle and trimmings.

G&S Co. Com-Po trademark (introduced Nov. 24, 1928)
Constructed by our patented process to compete with imported cases. Made of special composition material. Covered with waterproof material, nickel clasps and leather handle, pebbled grain covering.

G&S Co. CHALLENGE trademark (introduced Nov. 24, 1928)
An inexpensive side-opening case, defying all competition. Made of laminated Chipboard, covered with waterproof material, nicely grained, Keratol bound edges, chain stitched, leather handle, nickel clasps.

G&S Co. UTILITY trademark
Constructed for rough wear, made of heady Chipboard, reinforced sides, covered with waterproof Keratol top and bottom, edges reinforced with leather, double sewed, locked stitch. Impossible to unravel, making a rigid case.

G&S Co. DuraBilt trade mark (introduced October 1928)
Constructed over our KantKrack process, molded into perfect designs, is seamless and very durable, but less expensive than our regular KantKrack. DuraBilt Cases are always uniform. (In spite of this marketing description, many cases stamped DuraBilt seem to be wood veneer construction rather than the KantKrack process.)

G&S Co. MASTERKRAFT trademark
Three-Ply Veneer, thoroughly seasoned basswood shaped in the most artistic designs, a construction of durability, covered with the very best Keratols in beautiful grains of Seal and Walrus. Our MasterKraft Cases are in a class of their own.

G&S Co. KantKrack trademark (introduced in 1923/24)
A Geib & Schaefer original method - made by our special patented process and may be claimed as a composition material. KantKrack Cases are made of several thicknesses of fabric treated with certain chemicals and baked into shape under high pressure. The result is a seamless, practically unbreakable Case which far surpasses the veneer Case in neatness and general durability. It is impossible to speak too highly of the KantKrack line.

G&S Co. Puritan (introduced 1929)

Geib Economo trademark (introduced 1948)

Geib Vac-A-Bond trademark, (introduced late 1950's?) seen in cases for violins, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, French horn, etc. Examples have Geib medallion, aluminum valance, and either medium brown exterior with rust velvet interior, or black exterior with red velvet interior.

 

Case Linings:

D = DUVETINE LINED (a soft napped flannel fabric)

V = VELVET LINED (short dense pile)

P = PLUSH LINED (longer pile, Rayon)

P = SILK PLUSH (probably an even longer Rayon pile with "silky" qualities)

 

 

Possible example of "Plush" vs. "Silk Plush"

 

 

The Current Status of the Geib Brand

 

There is a "Geib Case Co., Inc." which is incorporated in the State of New York as a foreign business corporation. It does not produce products under that name. This means the Geib name is not currently available for use. The Martin Guitar company has cases built by TLK which are Martin branded and are unofficially referred to as "Geib Style" cases. They are somewhat reminiscent of prewar Geib cases, but are not intended to be faithful reproductions.

 

 

*All content from Music Trade Review magazine is copyright mbsi.org, courtesy of arcade-museum.com

 

Comments or additional information on Geib cases are welcomed at kirtleymusic@stevekirtley.org

 

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