Chilton Publishing Company

Chilton Publishing Company

Chilton Company (AKA Chilton Printing Co., Chilton Publishing Co., Chilton Book Co. and Chilton Research Services) traces its origins back to July 1896 and the first issue of Cycle Trade Journal published by Cycle Trade Publishing Co. The editor of the Cycle Trade Journal was James Artman, the first president of the future Chilton Company. In 1899 the magazine’s name changed to Cycle & Automobile Trade Journal. A 1900 magazine masthead listed Musselman & Buzby as the exclusive advertising representatives for Cycle & Automobile Trade Journal. In 1900 George Buzby, C. A. Musselman and James Artman merged their companies and changed the corporate name to Trade Advertising & Publishing Co. The new company expanded its product offerings to include automotive catalogs, booklets, circulars and posters.

The earliest date Chilton Company was used as a corporation name is 1904. That date is established by a corporate seal which reads “Chilton Company of Pennsylvania, incorporated March 31, 1904”. In 1907 the three partners purchased a printing company which they name Chilton Printing Company. The name Chilton was selected from a list of the passenger names on the Mayflower. The name which was used to publicly identify the company was ‘Chilton Printing Company’. In 1910 the company started to use their official corporate name Chilton Company. In March 1911 Chilton published the first issue of Commercial Car Journal. This was the first magazine created by the new Chilton Company. In February 1912 Cycle & Automobile Trade Journal was changed to Automobile Trade Journal which was eventually merged into Motor Age magazine.

In 1923 Chilton was sold to United Publishers Corp of New York for $1,635,000. In 1923 Chilton also opened their new printing plant located at 56th and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia. This location was to serve as the Chilton Company corporate headquarters starting in the late 1940’s. Artman and Buzby retired in 1923. Shortly after the purchase United Publishers merged their Class Journal subsidiary and Chilton into what became known as the Chilton Class Journal Co. C. A. Musselman became president of new subsidiary. This merger brought several future flag ship magazines (such as Iron Age, Motor Age, Dry Goods Economist, Jewelers Circular, Hardware Age and Automotive Industries) into the Chilton stable of magazines. In 1934 a complete reorganization of the company took place. J. Howard Pew provided an infusion of cash and saved the company from bankruptcy. In return he received a majority of the stock. After that reorganization all subsidiaries were merged into one company and incorporated in the state of Delaware as Chilton Company. While the cash infusion from J. Howard Pew saved the company, it also proved to be the single biggest inhibitor to its growth. Pew did not permit Chilton to seek outside funding for acquisitions. All acquisitions had to be funded internally. As a result Chilton Company’s growth over the next thirty years lagged behind other competitors such as McGraw Hill and Penton. George Buzby’s son G. C. (Carroll) Buzby became president of Chilton in the early 50’s and remained the Chief Executive Officer until his retirement in the early 1970’s.

After the acquisition by United Publishers in 1923, the corporate office moved to New York City. In 1955 all the former United Publishers magazines and their staffs relocated from New York City to the corporate headquarters at 56th and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia. In 1968 Chilton moved their corporate offices to Decker Square in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. This served as temporary headquarters until 1972 when Chilton moved into its new corporate headquarters building in Radnor, Pennsylvania. In 1979 Chilton Company was purchased by the American Broadcasting Company. The ABC purchase proved to be the beginning of the end for Chilton. Chilton became an operating unit of ABC Publishing. In 1985 Capital Cities purchased ABC and in 1996 the Walt Disney Company purchased Capital Cities/ABC. Chilton which had achieved status and recognition as an excellent business to business magazine publisher was not considered a core business by Disney. Over-extended financially by its acquisition of Capital Cities ABC, Disney needed to sell assets in order to reduce its debt. It decided to split up and sell the Chilton Company profit centers to multiple buyers. Reed Elsevier purchased the Chilton building and the magazine division for $444 million in 1997. The Hearst Corporation purchased the assets of the Chilton Professional Automotive group. Nichols Publishing purchased the Chilton Consumer Automotive group. In 2003 Nichols sold the do-it-yourself automotive print manuals to Haynes and the remaining automotive assets to Thompson Learning. In 2007 Thomson Learning became Cengage Learning.

In its 93 years, Chilton grew from a small single magazine publisher to a leading publisher of business to business magazines, consumer and professional automotive manuals, craft and hobby books and a large well know marketing research company. Iron Age was the flagship magazine for most of those years. 1955 was the first year that Chilton’s profit reached $1 million. Iron Age accounted for $750,000 of that profit. By 1980 Jewelers Circular Keystone captured the position of most profitable magazine. Iron Age revenue and status had declined due to the reduction in the size of the US metalworking manufacturing industry. While Chilton had leading magazines in several different industries, the Chilton name was most strongly associated with the consumer and professional automotive manuals. That is why the Chilton brand of do-it-yourself automotive manuals still exists ten years after the Chilton Company has ceased operations.


After many years of publishing business to business magazines and automotive manuals, Chilton published the celebrated science fiction novels "Dune" by Frank Herbert (1965) and "The Witches of Karres" (1966) by James H. Schmitz. Each was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel in its respective year, and "Dune" won the award. "Dune" became the first of a series of six novels by Frank Herbert, which were followed by many books, mostly prequels, by his son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin Anderson, an unrelated but experienced author. Of these books, Chilton only published the first. In this respect, Chilton resembled the Naval Institute Press, which normally publishes naval history books and other textbooks used at the United States Naval Academy but in 1984 unaccountably published Tom Clancy's first novel—a surprise best seller—then allowed other publishers to handle his later books and returned to obscurity. The other choice was followed by Scholastic Press, which formerly published children's books and magazines but in 1997 published the first Harry Potter book in the U.S. and has continued to publish them, in the process becoming a much larger publisher, which has developed new strategies for dealing with bestsellers and the vast amounts of money they bring in.

ee also

* Clymer repair manual
* Haynes Manuals

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