Sellers and Company

Mark Twain and coauthor Charles Warner coined the term "Gilded Age" in 1873 in their book with that title. Despite the promise of prosperity via industrialization, Twain took a dim view of the materialism and corruption that accompanied it. The protagonist of the story was one Eschol Sellers,
Sellers built huge machines to make other huge machines. These two images are from the 1895 catalog here.
Detail of 1888 map here showing the William Sellers iron Works occupying the two blocks south of what is now the Mint Building at the Community College of Philadelphia. Borders of the Sellers Company are Buttonwood Street to the north, the railroad running at ground level on Pennsylvania Avenue to the south, 16th Street to the east, and 17th Street to the west.
Like most industrialists in the late nineteenth century, the Sellers cousins lived closed to their company. Coleman Sellers lived at this still existing  house at the northeast corner of 18th and Mount Vernon Streets, two doors west of Thomas Eakins. William Sellers  lived even closer at 1819 Vine Street.
Mark Twain and coauthor Charles Warner coined the term "Gilded Age" in 1873 in their book with that title. Despite the promise of prosperity via industrialization, Twain took a dim view of the materialism and corruption that accompanied it. The protagonist of the story was one Eschol Sellers,
2019 photo of a model of a Sellers Oscillating Engine made for patent acquisition. The model is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington DC.
Coleman and William Sellers had tinkered with engines, and even locomotives, early in their careers.
Steam generated in boilers was used to move pistons, and the up and down motion of pistons was converted into circular motion for use in locomotives and factories. The higher the pressure of the steam in the boiler, the better the efficiency. Water had to be forced into the boiler to replace the steam released, and this Sellers autoinjector based on one built in 1887, controlled the water input.
This 2019 photo shows the Sellers product on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington DC.
The Sellers Iron Works had a huge share of the shafting market. This 1910 photo from the Westclox factory in Peru, illinois, shows the drive belts connected to the iron shafting along the ceiling.  The wheels on the shafting were powered by a powerful  steam engine. Steam engines would eventually be replaced by electric motors.
Sellers iron Works made locomotive turntables and sold them throughout the world. This 1895 photo looking east shows the turntable on the surface railroad at Hamilton and 21st Streets. This line will be lowered in the next 5 years after 1895, and William Sellers was the only person who testified in City Council in opposition to the cut.  5 years from now this site may be covered by the new construction of 2100 Hamilton Condominiums.
This 2019 photo was taken at the Franklin Institute, on the ground floor to the right of the main elevator.
The first connection between Matthias Baldwin and the Sellers family was in 1831. Charles Willson Peale had been running the Philadelphia Museum out of the State House from 1802 to 1827, at which point his sons moved one block west. Baldwin had moved from doing jewelry work, to running a textile mill, to building stationary steam engines to run equipment in the mill. In 1831 the two eldest sons of Peale, Rubens and Rembrandt, were running the museum near what is now Independence Park. They asked Baldwin to build a miniature locomotive as a ride at their museum. Based on that locomotive, Baldwin received interest in building full scale locomotives, which resulted in his first full-scale model, Old Ironsides, in 1832. Sophonisba Peale, the sister of Rubens and Rembrandt, would be the mother of Coleman Sellers Jr., the chief engineer at William Sellers & Company.
Gravestone of the parents of Coleman Sellers Jr. at West Laurel Hill cemetery. Coleman is buried in the same plot. William Sellers is buried in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Matthias Baldwin Park 

423 N 19th St 

Philadelphia, PA 19130

Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to preserve the Matthias Baldwin Park

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