Born in Germany on May 10, 1828, Jacob Rech began his career as a blacksmith, starting out as an apprentice when he was just a boy. At the age of 15, Rech found his way to the United States, and settled in Philadelphia. Like many blacksmiths of his day, Rech’s craft evolved into carriage and wagon making.
Having honed his expertise and adequately perfected his craft, Rech opened his own wagon and carriage manufactory in 1849.
Despite starting his business at the young age of 21, Rech’s business experienced immediate success, Rech’s enterprise grew rapidly, and over the next dozen years, Rech gained a reputation for building a reliable and quality product. As such, the demand for his wagons steadily expanded.
With the arrival of the Civil War, the North’s clamor for wagons and carriages of all kinds spiked. Like all manufactories of the time, orders rushed in and Rech’s sales increased even more.
Having profited from his war time sales, in 1866 Rech expanded his venture. On the corner of Philadelphia’s Eighth Street and Girard Avenue, Rech constructed a large assembly plant and dealership.
There his business operated for the next 38 years.
Rech’s wagons and carriages were well regarded by Philadelphia consumers. During the Centennial Celebration of 1876, Rech received recognition for his ingenious designs for a four-person buggy and a milk wagon.
Not only were his products esteemed for their quality, they were also highly regarded for their utility, workmanship, function, and innovation.
In addition to his wagon and carriage endeavors, Rech also pursued other commercial ventures. He served as Director of the Warwich Iron and Steel Company, as well as was elected president of the National Security Bank.
For a time he even served as director and later president of the Integrity Press Company. Sometime around 1894 Rech wound down his entrepreneurial ventures and retired from the carriage and wagon business. He relinquished stewardship of its daily operations, as well as all design, sales, and manufacturing operations to his two sons, William A. and J. Edwin. Upon his death ten years later his two sons took complete control of the business. But family ownership was not to be. Within a year the company was auctioned off and sold piece by piece.
Rechartered as a corporation, the company was incorporated on January 1st 1906. It was quickly merged with another carriage company.
Rech was 76 years old when he died on September 9th, 1904.
Below please find a Jacob Rech Centennial Token, cataloged as PA-Ph-337. Struck in commemoration of the nation’s Centennial Celebration, the token advertises Rech’s business as well as was used in commerce at the value of one-cent.
The token is MS-62 in grade, and demonstrates beautiful mirror-like surfaces.
Rulau provides no rarity for this particular specimen. However, it is estimated that the token has a Rarity Rating of at least R-5 on the Fuld rarity scale.
Notes and Sources
- The Carriage Monthly Volume 40, Ware Bros Company, 1904, pg.384
- Ibid., 1905, pg.506
- The Centennial Exposition, Described and Illustrated, J. S. Ingram, Hubbard Brothers, 1876, pg.274
- Find A Grave Memorial – Jacob Rech
- Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900 Fourth Edition, Russell Rulau, Krause Publications, ©2004
- The Library of Congress Digital Archives