TABLE OF CONTENTS
Walter Tips Company Records
An Inventory of the Collection
The Walter Tips Company was a hardware firm that operated in Austin, Texas, for 127 years. The company sold not only hardware, but also automobile accessories, mill supplies, and sporting goods. They covered a large trade area throughout Texas.
Walter Tips was the youngest son of Johann Conrad Tips and Anna Caroline Brown Tips, born in Elberfield, Prussia in 1841. The Tips family emigrated to Indianola (Port Lavaca), Texas in 1849. Before the Civil War, Walter’s older brother Edward Tips moved to Austin and opened a hardware store on what is now Congress Avenue. After serving in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, Walter went into the hardware business with William Clemens in New Braunfels, Texas. After Edward Tips died in 1872, Walter Tips and his partners, William Clemens and Joseph Faust, bought the hardware business in Austin, renaming it “Walter Tips & Company.” Tips bought out his two partners to become the sole owner of the Austin store in 1881.
The Walter Tips Company building at 712 Congress Avenue was constructed on the site of Edward Tips’ previous store in 1876-1877. Designed by Austin architect Jasper N. Preston, it is now a registered Texas Historic Landmark. The Walter Tips Company remained at the location on Congress Avenue until 1927 and the building was later bought by Franklin Savings Association in 1978 and restored it for use as their home office. In 1927, the company moved into a newly constructed warehouse at 200 Colorado Street and moved to selling solely wholesale hardware and automotive parts.
Walter Tips operated the company until his death in 1911. Soon after, in 1914, the company was incorporated and a Board of Directors elected. Adolf C. Goeth, son-in-law of Walter Tips, served as president of the company until his death in 1927. Successive presidents included George Groos, Frank W. Posey, Dan F. Searight, and Carl Johnson.
In 1984, the company stakeholders approved the sale of downtown company property due to the rising land prices. After selling the properties, they ended up deciding to sell the company to two companies rather than buy more real estate elsewhere. The automobile division that was operating at 115 W. 2nd Street was sold to Mount Joy Auto Parts Company of Houston. The hardware division which operated at 200 Colorado was sold to Wyeth Hardware Company in St. Josephs, Missouri. At the time of its closing, the company had more than 130 stockholders.
Sales catalogs from 1918, 1970-1976, and 1981-1984 make up the bulk of the collection. The company largely operated as a wholesale dealer and the catalogs are very large. Materials related to the purchasing of land and construction of a new warehouse in 1927 are well documented through deeds, titles, correspondence, bills, and contracts. The deeds and abstracts of titles are for Lots No. 1-6 Block 20 in the City of Austin, or 200 Colorado Street, where the Walter Tips Company warehouse was constructed. Page & Brothers Architects and contractors H.E. Wattinger and Fox-Schmidt held contracts with the company to build the warehouse. Correspondence with Brown Brothers loan company is also included in regard to the warehouse construction.
Correspondence and employee contracts from 1915 to 1930, including information about the company’s profit sharing, is of note. Employee correspondence consists largely of of agreements on salary and profit sharing for the company's salesmen. Numerous letters from other hardware stores concern compensation agreements for traveling salesmen. Responses from San Antonio Machine & Supply Co., McLendon Hardware Co. of Waco, Nash Hardware Co. of Fort Worth, and others are represented. Minutes from the Board of Directors meetings from 1915-1985 make up a large part of the collection. The stock dispute materials concern a feud between Walter H. Tips and his mother Kathryn S. Tips, who owned 100 shares of stock that she put up for sale in the 1930s. Correspondence and recipts dating from the 1870s document the purchasing of the Hampton property in Austin, though it is unclear the location and relation to the Walter Tips Company. J. H. Hutchins is the point of contact regarding the payments for the land.
Open to all users
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
The bulk of the collection was donated in 1985 by a former president of the Walter Tips Company, one of the catalogs was given by another donor, and company blank stationary was given by another. Additional materials were donated in 2017 from a descendent of the last president of the company.
Walter Tips Company Records (AR.X.021). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1968/012; DO/1985/037; DO/1995/025; DO/2017/002
Donation Date: May 1985 ; March 1987; January 1994; January 2017
Initial inventory by Holley White in November 1987. Final processing by Ruth Baker in February 2002. Finding aid updated by Kelly Hanus in January 2019.