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History - Factory
History

Company History

As a schoolboy, J.H. (Jack) Keeney learned about coin machines. His Father J.B. Keeney, was one of the largest operators in the country. In 1900 the elder Mr. Kenney and his two sons Jack and Bill, were opeating Mills Novelty Co. "Owl" and "Dewey" machines over a territory extending from Detroit to the west coast. The company was located at Jefferson, Iowa, at that time.

In 1916 the firm moved their headquarters to Chicago, where, under the name Keeney and Sons, it inaugurared a mail order system whic enabled them to cover the entire United States as operators and distributors. This plan of operating and selling coin machines by mail was so successfull that Keeney and Sons established all-time records for coin machines sales before World War II.

In 1926 Mr. J. B. Keeney retired from the firm and the business was continued by Bill and Jack Keeney. In 1930 the firm began their first manufacturing activities with the first pin game and were highly instrumental in pioneering the pin game market.

The firm of Keeney and Sons was terminated in November, 1933, and in January, 1934, Jack Keeney organized his own company know as J.H. Keeney and Company, with offices and factory at 2900 S. Michigan Avenue.

J.H. (Jack) Keeney in 1934
J.H. (Jack) Keeney in 1934

In 1937 the company opened up a new plant located at 2001 Calumet Avenue, Chicago. The factory occupied 30,000 sq. ft. and was serviced by a private Illinois Central Switch Track which ran right into the plant. It also had an eight truck covered loading platform, huge sun-light windows on all four sides, and complete ventilation more than meeting the requirements for healthy and wholesome working conditions at that time.

J.H. (Jack) Keeney in 1939
J.H. (Jack) Keeney in 1939

With a growing market for jukeboxes, J.H. Keeney & Co. saw an opportunity to produce and sell accessories for the Coin-Op industry. It launched a pipe-organ type remote speaker and a wall box. Although they immediatelt reported that their Keeney Remote Selector Wall Box for jukeboxes was experiencing a sudden rise in popularity, the start of WWII brought their plans to a sudden halt.

On March 16, 1942, the War Production Board ordered the shutdown of all manufacture of pinball games, jukeboxes, weighing machines, and other amusement machines, effective May 1, 1942, to concentrate materials for the war effort. Approximately thirty companies, mostly in the Chicago area, and employing about 10,000 people, were affected by this order. J.H. Keeney & Co. was tasked with the production of a "Planning Device" for the Special Devices Division USN Bureau of Aeronautics

After WWII, J.H. Keeney & Co. didn't explore the jukebox accessories any further but expanded into numerous fields of intricate electronic and electro-mechanical devices. Besides producing new electric upright or pin ball models for the amusement trade, they also produced complex electronic computing equipment for the U. S. government.

In August 1948, Jack Keeney, the pioneering head of J.H. Keeney and Company, passed away not long after suffering a debilitating stroke. The last pin game by J.H. Keeney & Co. was the Keeney's 1964 'Arrowhead' which was first and only listed on August 29, 1964. Keeney provided no further advertising support for the 'Arrowhead' and it remains an obscure game. Most likley shortly after this announcement the company went bankrupt and ceased to exist.

Factory
Keeney & Sons - Factory (1916-1934): 700 East 40th Street, Chicago, IL 60653

J.H. Keeney & Co. - Factory (1934-1937): 2900 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60616

J.H. Keeney & Co. - Factory (1937-1964): 2100 (now South) Calumet Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616