Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


How to find information on an old business?
January 5, 2008 8:48 PM   Subscribe

How can I find out information about corporations from the early 20th century (1910-1950)? I'm looking for info on several different companies (none of them public I think), most of them based in New York City.

The most elusive one (the one that I haven't been able to find any mention of anywhere) is the Ruleta Signal corp, but I'm also looking for information on the Marbelite Signal Company and the Horni Signal Company among others.

This if for a sort of hobby historical research project, so the lower the cost (free is good), the better, but I'm willing to pay whatever record fees are necessary. Although I'd love to find a www.vintagecorporations.com type website... :-)

Thanks!!
posted by Lactoso to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I checked the NY Times archives and didn't find anything about any of the companies except for Horni. There were quite a few articles about them. The last was in Feb 9, 1946 when the Horni brothers were indicted by the government. They were accused of milking war contracts.
posted by JJ86 at 9:10 PM on January 5, 2008


Thanks, but I've exhausted the NYTimes archive already. :-( And for the record, the Horni brothers were scoundrels, but not profiteers. :-) The article is about certain improprieties concerning paying off gambling debts with company funds...
posted by Lactoso at 9:36 PM on January 5, 2008


Looks like Horni Signal was wrapped into the Marbelite Company in New York. Your signal desires can probably be quenched here.
posted by parmanparman at 2:01 AM on January 6, 2008


The Marbelite Company is still going. Have you contacted them directly?
posted by parmanparman at 2:07 AM on January 6, 2008


Found your source for Ruleta! Call on Frederick P. Finck, Jr. He seems to have several patents related to the Ruleta Company (based in Bridgeport CT, Finck seems to live in Fairfield). Finck is still alive, he published a book with Vantage Press (it's on Amazon though) in 2007. I am sure he would be interested in giving you more information if you contacted him. Vantage Press' phone is (212) 736-1767, and I am sure they will put you in touch with Mr. Finck directly.
posted by parmanparman at 2:25 AM on January 6, 2008


By the way, if you need a researcher, message me through Metafilter.
posted by parmanparman at 2:46 AM on January 6, 2008


Have you been to the NY Public Library's Science, Industry and Business Library? They are the real deal.
posted by shothotbot at 5:42 AM on January 6, 2008


parmanparman - Thanks a bunch for the links and for the phone #, but Mr. Finck appears to have worked for a different Ruleta Corp (from CT) in the 1970s. The Ruleta company I'm looking for started producing traffic signals for New York City (and only NYC) on or around 1924. They didn't make anything else ever again (AFAICT). I'm assuming that they existed solely on their NYC govt. contracts until the stock market crash in '29. Then they had their materials, designs, dies, etc.., put into some form of bankruptcy court stewardship because then in 1939, two separate companies (Horni & Marbelite) suddenly introduced identical signals to the Ruleta and marketed them in direct competition to each other before Horni folded in the late 40s. There's actually no proof that I know of that Marbelite and Horni merged or that Marbelite purchased Horni. Mr. Willis (of kbrhorse.net) has a very nice website, but is just repeating flawed information.

shothotbot - Thanks, I did a quick search via the link you provided, but came up with nothing. Although your suggestion may ultimately yield results as I'm going to try to contact them and see if they can point me in the right direction. I live less than an hour from the NYPL so I might just spend a Saturday over there doing some research.
posted by Lactoso at 2:22 PM on January 6, 2008


Thanks, I did a quick search via the link you provided, but came up with nothing. Although your suggestion may ultimately yield results as I'm going to try to contact them and see if they can point me in the right direction. I live less than an hour from the NYPL so I might just spend a Saturday over there doing some research.
posted by Lactoso at 5:22 PM on January 6


They had a form where you could ask a question of the librarian - I recommend going there, its a great facility and an incredibly knowledgeable staff.
posted by shothotbot at 3:07 PM on January 6, 2008


Thanks shothotbot, will do.
posted by Lactoso at 8:16 PM on January 6, 2008


« Older Where can i buy a copy of the ...   |  Where can I find recordings of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.