#11 York Card & Paper Company; The Battle of the Wall Paper Competitors, Part 2
These illustrations, related to the wallpaper manufacturer York Card & Paper Company, are from a 19th Century company letterhead. The September 16, 1898, letter informs a customer that the wallpaper they wished to order is not in stock. The factory viewpoint is as if someone is standing in the intersection of Carlisle Avenue and West Philadelphia Street, looking northeastward in York, PA. The elaborate two-story office is shown at the left side; it fronts Carlisle Avenue. The four-story factory, on the right side, extends back along the railroad tracks.
To understand The Battle of the Wall Paper Competitors, one needs to look no further than the 1903 Atlas of York, PA. I’ve shaded the buildings of The York Card & Paper Company.
In 1903, the neighbor of The York Card & Paper Company is a competitor; i.e. York Wall Paper Company. Many will remember The York Card & Paper Company site, on the corner of Carlisle and Linden Avenues, as the longtime location of the Ammon R. Smith Chevrolet dealership.
The story starts with the building of a small factory along Linden Avenue to produce cardboard and wallpaper. On May 16, 1893, that company incorporates as The York Card & Paper Company; a name in reference to their manufacture of CARDboard and wallPAPER. The demand for their wallpaper product far exceeded their production ability in less than one year. In 1894 they built a much larger four-story factory, stretching all the way to Carlisle Avenue. The company focus was now dominated by wallpaper production.
The original York Card & Paper Company factory was sold, however to their chagrin, the buyers wanted to start a competing wallpaper company. The upstart competitor even had the nerve to call their company: York Wall Paper Company.
The York Card and Paper Company filed a protest against the application for charter of the York Wall Paper Company with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on the grounds of Similarity of Names. The ruling of the commonwealth follows:
A charter will be granted to a proposed corporation under the name of the York Wall Paper Company, notwithstanding a protest by the York Card and Paper Company on the ground of similarity of titles.
Neither company has an exclusive right to the name “York,” nor can the words “paper” and “company” be exclusively used by them.
Where it does not appear that there would be a present injury from the grant of letters-patent (the mere intention to injure or possibility of mistake not being sufficient ground for refusal, there being a remedy at law for any actual injury which may hereafter be sustained), letters-patent will be granted.
The refusal of the application of the York Wall Paper Company would practically decide that it could not designate by the title the kind of business it proposed to carry on.
The York Wall Paper Company was thus allowed to incorporate on January 10, 1895. The upstart company soon found themselves stretched to the limit; demand was also strong for their wallpaper products.
On November 12, 1895, a fire destroyed the small factory of the York Wall Paper Company and also threatened the large factory of their neighbor York Card and Paper Company. Before the end of the same month, the directors of the York Wall Paper Company had orders placed for new machinery to fill a larger factory to be built on the same site. The competitor’s new larger factory threatened to take business away from York Card and Paper Company. The rebuilt larger factory of York Wall Paper Company is the one shown on the 1903 Atlas of York, PA.
Continue reading for photos of The York Card and Paper Company factory through the years and discover how the wallpaper competitors ultimately joined.
In my post Late 1800s Factory Inspection Reports Assist in Identification of an East Prospect Photo I wrote about finding these reports in the State Library of Pennsylvania. For this series on the Top 50 York County Factories at the end of 19th Century, I’m using data from the 10th Report of the Pennsylvania Department of Factory Inspection.
The 10th Factory Inspection Report is for the Department’s year ending October 31st 1899. I ranked the 479 York County factories by numbers of employees; #50 has 47 employees, on up to #1 with 510 employees. In the coming weeks, on Monday and/or Tuesday, I’m counting down to the top employer in York County at the end of 19th Century.
At #11 in the count down of the Top 50 York County Factories at End of 19th Century is The York Card & Paper Company in the west end of York. The 10th Factory Inspection Report notes that on March 27th 1899 the York Card & Paper Company in York has 163 employees; 150 male and 13 female. Of these 163 employees, 25 employees are under 21-years-old; of which 5 males are between 13 and 16-years-old. The goods manufactured are recorded as “Wall Paper.”
A short history of the York Card & Paper Company is told in George Prowell’s 1907 History of York County, PA. Quoting from page 762 of Volume I:
The York Card and Paper Company began the manufacture of wall paper and cardboard in an establishment erected on the site of the York Wall Paper Company. The business prospered and in 1893, a charter of incorporation was obtained with W. F. Bay Stewart, president; John McCoy, vice-president, and John S. McCoy, secretary and treasurer. A large factory was soon after erected at Carlisle and Linden Avenues, and in 1906, an additional building was erected to accommodate the increased business of the company. This factory produces annually 30,000,000 rolls of paper, and is one of the largest establishments of its kind in the world. It has on its pay roll about 450 employees.
The 1906 two-story addition filled the vacant space between the 1894 four-story factory and Linden Avenue. This addition allowed the payroll to grow from 163 employees in 1899 to 450 employees by 1907. The two-story addition can be seen on the far left side of a pre-1946 photo; this photo is from the same viewpoint as the 1898 illustration at the beginning of this post. Also note the addition of a water tower on the roof, for the fire sprinkler system.
By 1911, P. J. Gilbert left the York Wall Paper Company to form the Gilbert Wall Paper Company. Now there were three wallpaper manufacturers in York, PA. By the late 1920s, the establishment of Barnes Wall Paper Company made it four wallpaper manufacturers in York, PA.
The York Card and Paper Company was still, by far, largest wallpaper factory in York. In 1927, the company joined in a merger of several other companies and formed the United Wallpaper Factories, Inc. This name was changed in 1944 to United Wallpaper, Inc., with the York Plant the largest of the three plants manufacturing wallpaper.
In the early 1940s, the factories of all four wallpaper companies were still in York. During WWII, the United Wallpaper plants switched to war production; making incendiary bombs, smoke bombs, flares, tank parts, and mechanisms for loading and unloading convoy cargo. After the war, the York Plant expanded again; building a large single story facility on the lot across Carlisle Avenue.
United Wallpaper, Incorporated, moved production from the York Plant to another of their facilities during November of 1953. The following 1955 photo of the former York Card and Paper Company factory is from the viewpoint of a person standing in the intersection of Carlisle Avenue and Linden Avenue, looking eastward.
In 1955, Trans Lease purchased the former York Card and Paper Company factory, containing 257,000 square feet of floor space. Trans Lease rented the bulk of the facility to Ammon R. Smith Auto Company, as shown in the following photo.
The present incarnation of the York Wall Paper Company (The Battle of the Wall Paper Competitors, Part 1) is known as York Wallcoverings, Inc. After Ammon R. Smith closed, York Wallcoverings purchased the former York Card and Paper Company building and connected it with the York Wall Paper building. Those long-ago wallpaper competitors were thus symbolically physically joined, as of 1990.
A review of my count down, thus far, of the 50 top factories in York County at the end of 19th Century follows. As a group, these 40 factories provided employment for 3,427 people in York County during 1899.
- #11 York Card & Paper Company in York; 163 employees
- #12 The Hench & Dromgold Company in York; 145 employees
- #13 Hanover Match Company in Hanover; 143 employees
- #14 Baugher, Kurtz & Stewart in York; 140 employees
- #15 Wrightsville Hardware Company in Wrightsville; 130 employees
- #16 John C. Schmidt & Company in York; 120 employees
- #17 Celestino, Costello & Company in York; 114 employees
- #18 Holtzman Manufacturing Company in York; 114 employees
- #19 York Wall Paper Company in York; 101 employees
- #20 Wells Whip Company in Wellsville; 100 employees
- #21 Billmeyer & Small Company in York; 100 employees
- #22 Nes Chain Manufacturing Company in York; 100 employees
- #23 Variety Iron Works in York; 100 employees
- #24 Oppenheim, Oberndorf and Company in York; 98 employees
- #25 Industrial Sewing Company of Glen Rock; 96 employees
- #26 New York Wire Cloth Company in York; 90 employees
- #27 Peter C. Fulweiler & Brothers Cigar Factory in York; 89 employees
- #28 York Safe & Lock Company in Spring Garden Township; 89 employees
- #29 Keystone Farm Machine Company in York; 87 employees
- #30 J. E. Williams & Company in York; 85 employees
- #31 Acme Wagon Company in Emigsville; 80 employees
- #32 Columbia Embroidery Works in Wrightsville; 80 employees
- #33 Hanover Silk Company in Hanover; 75 employees
- #34 George A. Kohler & Company Cigar Factory in York; 74 employees
- #35 Weaver Organ & Piano Company in York; 71 employees
- #36 York Knitting Mills in York; 67 employees
- #37 D. F. Stauffer Bakery in York; 66 employees
- #38 LaButa Cigar Factory in York; 65 employees
- #39 A. F. Hostetter Cigar Factory in Hanover; 64 employees
- #40 Broomell, Schmidt & Company Factory in York; 62 employees
- #41 William H. Raab Cigar Factory in Dallastown; 59 employees
- #42 Edwin Myers & Co. Cigar Box & Lithographic Works in York; 56 employees
- #43 Paragon Cigar Factory in York; 54 employees
- #44 York Cracker Bakery in York; 53 employees
- #45 Penn Heel & Innersole Factory in Hanover; 52 employees
- #46 George W. Gable Cigar Factory in Windsor; 50 employees
- #47 Charles P. Ketterer Wagon Factory in Hanover; 50 employees
- #48 National Cigar Manufacturing Company in West Manchester; 50 employees
- #49 George W. Hoover Wagon Factory in York; 48 employees
- #50 David S. Detwiler Cigar Factory in Wrightsville; 47 employees
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