#19 York Wall Paper Company; The Battle of the Wall Paper Competitors
This illustration of the York Wall Paper Factory is from an 1899 Trade Publication. It is a view looking southeast. The streetcar in the lower left is running along Linden Avenue.
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 York Wall Paper Company buildings along Linden Avenue.
In 1903, the neighbor of the York Wall Paper Company is The York Card & Paper Company; they also produced wallpaper. 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 York Card & Paper Company building a factory in 1893 to manufacture cardboard and wallpaper. The demand for their wallpaper product far exceeded their production ability in less than one year. In 1894 they built a larger factory stretching all the way to Carlisle Avenue. The company focus was 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 factory of the York Wall Paper Company and also threatened the 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 the larger factory to be built on the same site. That new larger factory is shown in the illustration at the beginning of this post.
Continue reading for early photos of the York Wall Paper factory and discover how those 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 #19 in the count down of the Top 50 York County Factories at End of 19th Century is the York Wall Paper Company, in west end of York. The 10th Factory Inspection Report notes that on March 27th 1899 the York Wall Paper Company in York has 101 employees; 95 male and 6 female. Of these 101 employees, 54 employees are under 21-years-old; of which 10 males are between 13 and 16-years-old. The goods manufactured are recorded as “Wall Paper.”
A 1904 ad for the York Wall Paper Company contains an early photograph of the factory. The view is along the Linden Avenue side of the buildings.
A short history of the York Wall Paper Company is told in George Prowell’s 1907 History of York County, PA. Quoting from page 762 of Volume I:
The York Wall Paper Company was incorporated January 10, 1895, with George W. Bell, president; P. C. Wiest, treasurer; Andrew Watt, secretary. This enterprise with James H. Findley as president, P. J. Gilbert, secretary, and Charles H. Stallman, treasurer, has been constantly developing and has an annual output of about 12,000,000 rolls of paper.
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 1930s, The York Card and Paper Company was still the largest wallpaper factory in York, although they were now the York factory; within an out-of-town corporation and ultimately that corporation would move work within their York factory out-of-town. The York Wall Paper Company was the largest locally owned wallpaper factory, with Gilbert Wall Paper Company and Barnes Wall Paper Company as their local competition. The following is a 1930s Linden Avenue view of the York Wall Paper Company, from the collections of the York County Heritage Trust.
The present incarnation of the York Wall Paper Company 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 32 factories provided employment for 2,358 people in York County during 1899.
- #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