Syracuse China

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Syracuse China Corporation
TypeChina and Pottery Manufacturing
IndustryPottery
GenreRestaurant dinnerware
Founded1871
Defunct2009
FateBought out by Libbey Inc. of Toledo, Ohio - all production moved from North America
Headquarters,
United States
Area served
United States
Key people
Lyman W. Clark, Richard H. Pass, James Pass, Bert E. Salisbury
ProductsVitreous China tableware, earthenware & bone china
SubsidiariesCountry Ware Corp. (1975)

Syracuse China, located in Lyncourt, New York (a suburb of Syracuse), was a manufacturer of fine china. Founded in 1871 as Onondaga Pottery Company (O.P. Co.) in the town of Geddes, the company initially produced earthenware; in the late 19th century, O.P.Co., began producing fine china, for which it found a strong market particularly in hotels, restaurants, and railroad dining cars. The company closed in 2009.

History[edit]

In 1841, W. H. Farrar started a small pottery business in the town of Geddes, New York. Seventeen years later he moved the business to the location of what would become the Onondaga Pottery Company and eventually Syracuse China. Mr. Farrar produced whiskey jugs, butter crocks, and mixing bowls in stoneware. A few years later the Empire Pottery company was organized to take over the Farrar Pottery. A line of "whiteware" for table use was added. Like most pottery of the time, it was susceptible to "crazing" - small cracks in the glazed surface. The company struggled along until 1871 at which time Onondaga Pottery Company was organized and took over.

Popular taste demanded a finer ceramic tableware than the heavy pottery made by these companies. Onondaga Pottery started producing a heavy earthenware called "Ironstone" but struggle to succeed. In 1873, they began manufacturing a "white graniteware" and then in 1885 a semi-vitreous ware. A year later they replaced this with high fired china and a guarantee that the glaze would not crackle or craze - the first time American-made tableware carried such a warranty. It was at this point, 45 years after the start of pottery production in Syracuse that the pottery business showed a stable and profitable prospect.

Under President James Pass, O.P.Co. developed a new china body and won the medal for translucent china at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. In 1897 production turned to the vitreous china body. Its first colored china body, "Old Ivory," appeared in 1926. The company thrived with its hotel and railroad sales. The narrow-bodied "Econo-Rim" was tailored for the cramped table space of dining cars. Highly sought after collectible patterns sell regularly on eBay and at estate sales. The company was renowned for its fine china designs until 1970 when it limited its production to mostly restaurant dinnerware.

End of production[edit]

On April 9, 2009, after 138 years of production, the Syracuse China factory was shut down by Libbey, Inc. of Toledo Ohio, and all production of Syracuse China moved from North America. At that time, the plant had 275 employees.

On the last day of production, each employee was given a commemorative plate with a montage of images from throughout the company's history and eight of the company logos used over the course of the company's history. The face of the plate states, "Though the world may change around us, our history remains the same."

The back of each plate was stamped "38-A," the last date stamp to appear on a Syracuse China product made in Syracuse. The "38" is code for the year it was made (1971, the company's centennial year, plus 38 years). The "A" stands for the first quarter of the year. The back of each plate also has text indicating it was one of the last "pieces to be made in Syracuse, N.Y."

The archives and china collections were donated to the Onondaga Historical Association.

The "Turner-Over Club"[edit]

Syracuse China sponsored the Turner-Over Club (later the Turn-Over Club) as a promotion for decades. The company gave out membership cards, with the idea that wherever members traveled, they would "turn over" their dinnerware to see if it was Syracuse China; witnesses to this curious behavior would then be treated to the story of the club and thus introduced to the brand name.

References[edit]

  • Reed, Cleota and Skoczen, Stan. Syracuse China. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1997.
  • "Syracuse China plant clatters to a close today". Syracuse Online LLC. 2009-04-06. Retrieved 2009-04-06. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • "The Turner-Over Club: A talisman of home". Syracuse Post-Standard. Syracuse Newspapers. 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2009-05-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • Syracuse China Corp. History of Syracuse China. Syracuse, NY. 1970.

External links[edit]