Gormully & Jeffery Manufacturing

 Rambler TimeLine

The Early Years 1845-1882

Mitchell & Lewis  Co. Ltd. 1855-1910

 Gormully & Jeffery   1881-1900----> 

Mitchell-Lewis Motor Co. 1900-1903
Thomas B. Jeffery & Co. 1900-1910

The Overland Co. 1903-1908

Mitchell-Lewis Motor Co. 1903-1924

E.R. Thomas-Detroit Motor Co. 1906-1909

Willys-Overland 1908-1955

Hudson Motor Car Co. 1909-1954

Thomas B. Jeffery Company 1910-1916

Nash Motors Inc. 1916-1937

Nash-Kelvinator Corp.  1937-1954

Kaiser Motor Company 1945-1955

Kaiser Jeep Corporation 1955-1970

American Motors Corp 1954-1970

AMC/Jeep Corporation 1970-1987

 Rambler Dates

1881- Gormully and Jeffery Manufacturing(G&J) opens its doors for business.

1882- Thomas B. Jeffery is awarded a patent for the Clincher Tire, the design still in modern use.

1886- G & J Mfg. is sued by Colonel Albert Augustus Pope of Columbia Bicycles for infringement of the Lallement Bicycle patent, a so-called "blanket patent" for the entire invention.

1891- Gormully and Jeffery Manufacturing mounts a successful defense against the Lallement suit.  This opens the way for large-scale growth of the bicycle industry.

1895- Tom Jeffery witnesses the first American automobile race, held in Chicago on Thanksgiving, in the snow.

1897- Thomas B. Jeffery builds his first automobile prototype in the machine shop of his bicycle plant, on Franklin Street in Chicago.


 TimeLine Gallery

At the top of the page is the first New York Auto Show. For 1900, Thomas B. Jeffery and his son Charles Thomas Jeffery showed Rambler prototypes at this show, known as Models A & B.

  This is a railroad velocipede from 1883

Most likely
, this de
sign is not a TBJ velocipede.  Jeffery's design was patented in the 1870's.  I feel it probably was the "bicycle
style" seen below the 1883 model. --v

This advertisement wos for a

le velocipede from 1895 The make of this one is undetermined. Probably Jeffery's design from the 1870's would have looked like this one.

This is a Rambler Bicycles catalog cover from 1885.

G&J Mfg
. had some of the most ornate catalogs and advertising of the time.

1899- The death of R. Philip Gormully.

1900- Gormully & Jeffery Manufacturing is sold to Pope's American Bicycle Trust.  Thomas B. Jeffery & Company is formed to build automobiles, and purchases the Sterling Bicycles plant in Kenosha, WI from the American Bicycle Trust.

Gormully & Jeffery Mfg.

 In 1879, Tom Jeffery entered the bicycle manufacturing trade with the American bicycle, beginning with an ordinary(big front wheel) called  the Ideal.  With the advent of the "safety bicycle", essentially the same design as modern bicycles, the new model was called the Rambler

By 1881, Jeffery brought in his friend R. Philip Gormully to handle the "front end" of the business.  The venture was called Gormully and Jeffery Manufacturing, or as it was advertised, 
G & J. The brand quickly rose to the top of the trade, and the American Rambler was well known for its fit and finish, as well as durability and handling.  They costed in the 100 dollar range, a good sum at the time.

In 1882, Thomas B. Jeffery was awarded a patent for what became known as the "clincher" tire design, in which the tire's own air pressure holds the tire on the rim.  Interestingly, though Jeffery spent years as a patents modelmaker, on his own patent there is a note of "no model". They called the tire the "G & J" and integrated its marketing with the Rambler bicycle. This is the same design in common use today, not just on bicycles, but on virtually all pneumatic tire designs.

When Thomas B. Jeffery and R. Phillip Gormully went into the bicycle business,  they were paying licensing fees on the Lallement Patent, purchased by Colonel Albert Augustus Pope.  Pope was the largest bicycle maker in the country, manufacturing the Columbia.  At first, on Gormully's advice, G & J paid the licensing fees, but in 1886, Jeffery re-examined the crank-and-pedal patent, and decided that it was indefensible, as it represented no real invention, merely evolution.

Gormully issued a declaration of independence from the blanket patent. Pope immediately pressed suits, all of which were defended successfully by Gormully and Jeffery Manufacturing, in 1891.  The striking down of this patent almost single-handedly removed the major restriction in the bicycle industry in North America

Jeffery also successfully prosecuted his own patents.  He won a case for his tire patent in the United States, but lost another in England after taking his case to the House of Lords.

In November 1895, Jeffery witnessed an automobile race in the snow, sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald, to be run from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois and back.  The distance was 54 miles.  Entered were the Duryea brothers'  motorwagon, three Benz automobiles, and two electric-powered cars.  J. Frank Duryea won the event, but not before most of the entrants had broken down repeatedly.  Jeffery was not impressed by the reliability of  these machines, which took over seven hours to make the trip.

Thomas Buckland Jeffery had a running automobile by 1897.  It was designed and built in his works at the Rambler bicycle plant on Franklin Street in Chicago.  There was some experimentation for a couple of more years, returning more power, along with some refinement in design.   Some refinements noted are steering wheels instead of tiller steering, engine placement in front instead of under the cockpit, and seating of the driver on the left.  One design actually mounts passengers in front of the driver!

R. Philip Gormully passed away in 1899, and in 1900, Jeffery sold out of the Gormully & Jeffery bicycle business, to Pope,  at which time the Rambler Bicycles took a precipitous dive in price, dropping from the 100 dollars they had been at for years, down to as low as 40 dollars.

In 1900, as a new era in American industry was dawning, Thomas B. Jeffery & Company purchased the Sterling Bicycles plant in Kenosha WI.  Sterling was owned by the American Bicycle trust.  Yes, Pope again.

  From the Open Library Project-

 "A Family in Kenosha"-  A magazine article by Beverly Rae Kimes, detailing some of the early Rambler history.  Appeared in the 2nd Quarter 1978 issue of
Automobile Quarterly Magazine
. Scanned and kindly contributed to my effort by a friend in Alberta.

 Rambler Web Linkage:

The building shown here is the Thomas B. Jeffery & Company factory, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  In 1900 it was purchased from the American Bicycle Trust controlled by Pope and Columbia.  Pope had taken over Sterling Bicycle Co., and this had been the Sterling plant.

An 1887
Rambler American Ideal bicycle by Gormully & Jeffery Manufacturing.

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