Mercury Boat Motor Magnets Vintage 1958 Advertisement

Fridge magnets picture our different 1958 Mercury outboard engines
Mark 10 Kiekhaefer Mercury Outboard Engine Magnet Mark 28 Kiekhaefer Mercury Outboard Engine Magnet Kiekhaefer Mercury Outboard Engine Magnet Set of 4 Mark 58 Kiekhaefer Mercury Outboard Engine Magnet If purchase set of four for gifting or resale, specify separate poly bags at checkout Mark 78 Kiekhaefer Mercury Outboard Engine Magnet
Brand: Magnetfun
Product Code: 1152
Availability: In Stock
Price: $5.90

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Magnets picture four different Mercury outboard engines, models Mark 10, Mark 28, Mark 58 and Mark 78.  Choose one or a full set.

The illustrations come from a 1958 Mercury advertisement when the company was named Kiekhaefer Corporation, after it's founder.  

Wikipedia tells me that the Mark 78 was a 70hp redesign of the Mark 75.  That same year the Mark 75, the first 6-cylinder, with 25hp more than its competitors, won a speed record, so the 78 had a hard act to follow.

The advertisement included text-only mentions of the Mark 6, Mark 25, Mark 30, Mark 55 and Mark 75, referring to them as "proved and improved."  You could choose from nine models and take one home for ten percent down and a twenty-four month payment plan.

The company website offers a video about Mercury Marine's history as well as interesting historical information about Mercury firsts.

The day that his second daughter was born, Elmer Karl Kiekhaefer (1906 – 1983), a Wisconsin-born electrical engineer, purchased the remains of Cedarburg Manufacturing in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, near his family's farm, twenty miles north of Milwaukee, WI.  Since 1935 Cedarburg Manufacturing had produced Thor boat motors, privately labeled for such retailers as Sears and Montgomery Ward.  The motors Thor produced for Montgomery Ward were named Sea King but the units performed so poorly that Montgomery Ward (MW) had returned them – contributing, with the Depression, to Cedarburg Manufacturing going out of business. 

Kiekhaefer wasn't interested in manufacturing outboard motors.  He had spent the last eleven years working for Stearns Magnetics (today associated with Ohio Magnetics), a manufacturer of separation equipment, and planned for his new company to manufacture cream separators.  Kiekhaefer would have had some moneyed competitors, including McCormick-Deering and International Harvester.  Based on descriptions of Kiekhaefer's personality, however, it is likely he'd designed what he thought was a better mousetrap.  When his attention was diverted from the dairy industry to sporting goods, boats may have won but milk probably lost.

When Kiekhaefer took possession of the Cedarburg Manufacturing building, there sat the 300 crated Sea King motors, returned by MW.  Needing capital to fund his plans for building dairy equipment, Karl and a small group of employees rebuilt the Sea Kings and persuaded MW to give them another try.  They did, they liked, they reordered and Kiekhaefer was in the boat motor business.  A year later, at the New York boat show, Kiekhaefer wrote orders for over 15,000 of his new 2- and 3-hp Mercury motors.

A year before this advertisement appeared, the Kiekhaefer family moved from Wisconsin to Winterhaven, Florida, location of their second home.  An hour away was a 10,000 acre site Kiekhaefer had purchased on 1,400-acre Lake Conlin in St. Cloud, FL on which to test Mercury engines.  


During world War II "Mr. K" as Kiekhaefer was called by employees, had become concerned about industrial piracy so Lake Conlin was referred to as "Lake X," had an unlisted telephone number and a security guard.  In the early 1970s nearly 500 people were employed at the St. Cloud facility.  In addition to testing, the St. Cloud plant produced parts, promotional items provided to Mercury dealers and fuel tanks for a boats and snowmobiles.  Sadly, the St. Cloud plant was closed in 2004 when a new test facility on a larger lake was opened in Panama City, FL

In August, 1961, based since 1946 in Fond Du Lac, WI and producing sales estimated at around $50 million, Kiekhaefer sold his company to Chicago-based Brunswick, creating the second largest corporation in the U.S.  Corporate press releases stated that Kiekhaefer got $34 million in Brunswick stock, a board seat and a Brunswick vice presidency, while remaining as president and CEO of the Mercury subsidiary.  At that time, Mercury employed 1,000 workers in four Wisconsin and two Florida plants, and there were 3,500 US dealers.*  Mercury became a division of Brunswick, as it continues today.  Brunswick was a $360 million company, making sports equipment for billiards, boating and bowling, as well as products for defense and surgery.  Two divisions manufactured boats – Owens Yacht and Brunswick Boats.

1961 also marked the introduction of the enormously successful Mercruiser line.

In 1969 Kiekhaefer retired and in 1971 the company was renamed "Mercury Marine."  In the obituary for Freda Kiekhaefer, Karl's wife, he was described as having been a perfectionist – a characteristic that contributed much to the success of his products – and as a volatile, iron-fisted genius.  


*By 1970 there were 8,000 Mercury dealers worldwide, in 118 countries.

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