The Idea and Founding
Frederick Kohnle had an interest in doing things better and more efficiently. As a clerk in a St. Louis department store, he price marked merchandise by marking with a pen or pencil. This was slow and laborious. Also, serious pricing errors or hand writing that was illegible proved costly. He was sure that a machine could be built which could produce an attachable tag.
In 1890 he returned to Dayton, working at the Dayton Manufacturing Company as a polisher. He continued his efforts to develop an efficient solution to the retailers' price marking problem. On August 6th, 1890, he applied for a patent on a strip ticket that was 3" long and 3/4" wide which used a straight pin embedded within the paper tag folds to allow attachment to textiles and other products. His patent #457783 was granted in 1891.
Kohnle founded the Climax Tag Company in 1891 and contracted with a company in Toledo Ohio to build the first marking machine. The company was unsuccessful in their efforts, so Fred contracted with a Springfield Ohio shop to produce his machine. This shop also failed to produce a machine. In 1893 he rented space in a small jobbing shop at 24 South St. Clair Street in Dayton and began constructing the machine himself.
Within six months, he had built two working machines which he could use for demonstration purposes. With these machines, he finally had the ability to prove to potential investors that his idea was feasible.
Growth and Change
In 1896 the company was given a new name. It was now the National Tag Company. Also, the company had its first home, a barn located in the middle of what is now downtown Dayton.
In 1900 the company name was again changed, becoming the Merchants Tag and Label Company. The company relocated to a second floor facility in the Beaver Power Building at 27 South St. Clair Street in Dayton. The company was producing tickets, but had not produced any machine products.
Finally, in 1901, the first machine was produced. This product was a hand operated pin ticket attaching machine which was built by Fred Kohnle himself. Also, during this same period of time, Fred bought out the other investors in the company and changed the name to the Monarch Tag and Label Company.
In 1902, Fred's small company was ready to expand. However, additional capital was needed. As a result, the company reorganized and became the Automatic Pin Ticketing Company. Also with the new name came a change of location. The company relocated to 310 East Second Street, Dayton.
As Kohnle was hard at work during these years, another Dayton inventor William G. Metcalf, was busy also creating a pricing ticket machine. Metcalf's design would create a ticket from a supply roll of paper stock and imprint information. The tag would then be applied to the garment or product with a wire staple. In 1900 the Metcalf-Snyder Manufacturing Company of Dayton became the owner of the patents for this machine. In 1903, the patents were sold to Frederick Kohnle's company; the Automatic Pin Ticketing Company.
Before the formal purchase of Metcalf-Snyder's patent rights, Kohnle was using those ideas and his own knowledge to improve upon his pricing machines. Responding to customer comments that the hand operated attaching machine was awkward to use, a foot operated pedestal type machine was introduced in 1903. This left the clerks' hands free to handle the merchandise while operating the machine. It is believed the predominate company testing and giving feedback for the device was Elder & Johnson, a department store in Dayton Ohio.
A list of notable U.S. Patents to be developed and granted during this time:
#457783, the already mentioned original Kohnle machine.
#607119 and #619773, Metcalf's ticketing machine.
#762322, Kohnle's floor petal operated unit.
*In 1990, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers designated the Pin Ticketing Machine the 98th National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. ASME member Gilbert A. Neubauer, a retired Director of Engineering for Monarch Marking Systems, put together A full explanation of the pin ticketing machine circa 1902. Please click this link to read his wonderful historical documentation: https://www.asme.org/getmedia/46f6b343-2c49-45b9-b18e-ee8784c1b49b/150-Pin-Ticketing-Machine-1902.aspx
Product improvement continued for Fred and his company. In late 1903 or early 1904 the Automatic Pin Ticketing Company subcontracts machine fabrication to the Weinman & Euchenhofer Company of Dayton, Ohio. Almost 150 units of the new motorized machine are completed, but in 1904, the company facility at 310 East Second St. was destroyed by fire. The company was out of business for about a year, and in 1907 Kohnle sold the company (minus the European patent rights) to the American Tag Company of Chicago, Illinois. In 1909, Fred Kohnle represented the Automatic Pin Ticket Company in Europe. Then in 1912 the company was reformed as the Monarch Tag Company.
A new building was erected at 216 South Torrence Street, Dayton in 1916. Soon after, some very successful machines were built there. Among them were the M-1 "H.O. Jr." which was a hand operated machine that produced four lines of information on the strip tags. This machine was so well accepted that in 1921, a similar model (M-3) was introduced that utilized an electrically driven motor. Also during 1921, building improvements were made and the company became The Monarch Marking System Company. Sales during 1921 totaled $350,000.
During World War II, a portion of the Torrence Street Plant was converted for the manufacture of rifle bolts for military carbines. For performing that work, Monarch was awarded the coveted "Army-Navy E" for excellence.
Through the years many interesting and innovative products issued from the Torrence Street Facility. Among them were the M-4 Pathfinder (a hand operated machine that could produce 100 impressions per minute) and the M-100 (a ready-to-wear ticket printer).
By 1966 a new manufacturing plant was built a few miles south of Dayton, in Miamisburg, Ohio. Then in 1968, Monarch became a subsidiary of Pitney Bowes Incorporated.
Pitney Bowes had become a fortune 500 company through the manufacture of postage metering equipment. Pitney Bowes' resources and support provided Monarch the opportunity to continue to grow and prosper. Research and Development stayed busy during the sixties to give way to the innovative products soon to follow that would define price marking for the next several decades.
Hand Held Price Marking
In 1972, Monarch introduced a machine that revolutionized the price marking industry. The machine was the model 1110, a plastic, hand-held labeler that was light in weight, easily portable, and durable. The model 1110 is one of the most successful products that Monarch as ever produced. That plastic hand-held machine grew into a complete product line of efficient, low cost marking equipment.
Creativity and innovation did not end with the introduction of the 1110. Throughout the years of the seventies and into the eighties, Monarch consistently developed new equipment and systems to meet the more sophisticated needs of its customers. New labeling applications were addressed and the hand held tools continued to offered excellent solutions.
Further Product Improvement
In 1995 Pitney Bowes sold Monarch Marking to Paxar. This deal was structured with Paxar controlling 49% with option and Odyssey Partners having 51%. However, Paxar has the naming rights. In 1996, a new Monarch price gun style was introduced to market; the Crown Series. Label guns like the 1131, 1136, 1151 and the 1153 just to name a few are sold. Almost every notable functional featured is improved in order to have a better user experience with the labeler. In 1997 Paxar acquired full ownership of Monarch Marking. The new Crown design helps to ensure Monarch as the #1 market share leader moving into the 21st century.
In 2007 Avery Dennison acquires Paxar. The appeal of the purchase was mostly centered on the apparel identification business that Paxar had. The Monarch brand was viewed as a simple afterthought because Avery truly wanted to expand into the whole pipeline of the retail and industrial supply chain. Monarch has turned out to be a very pleasant surprise for Avery and investment continues into the company. All pricing guns and labels are produced and assembled in Ohio. Hand held labeling equipment remains the dominate product line for Monarch. Current products (in addition to conventional pricing guns and labels) include electronic thermal printing systems and supplies, data collection systems, and security systems. These products incorporate state-of-the-art industry technology such as RFID.
Monarch Company History produced September 10th 1989
ASME by Gilbert A Neubauer published November 15th 1990.
Never Dies the Dream by Margaret Ann Ahlers and Esther B. Kohnle, published in 1950 by Charles McLean, Dayton, Ohio and the Antioch Press, Yellow Springs, Ohio.