Oriental Silk Printing Company

Haledon, New Jersey

By Robert J. Baptista, November 25, 2007

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Logo of the Oriental Silk Printing Company
Haledon, New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

The silk industry of Paterson, New Jersey thrived in the early 1900s and was a major employer in the area.   Many of the workers lived in the neighboring town of Haledon and commuted to work by trolley.  Haledon itself had only a few textile mills of which the largest was the Oriental Silk Printing Company on Belmont Avenue.

The textile operations at this site were preceded by a foundry.  In 1825 Benjamin Brunded had a machine shop in Paterson across the street from the present day City Hall.  When the shop burned down around 1832, Brunded moved to the Haledon site, buying the Hedden Bark Mill on Oldham Brook.  The building was a one- story field stone structure.  Two years later Brunded established a foundry and machine shop and named the community Oldham, after a place in Lancashire, England.  He also built his home on the property.

In 1857 Charles and William Hodges purchased the foundry, enlarging the plant and converting it into a woolen and hosiery mill.  The business prospered for some years, but the Hodges met with reverses after the Civil War and the property was sold in 1865 at a Sheriff’s sale.  It became the Oldham Manufacturing Company for a few years.  Later, the mill was sold to M. H. Chapin, a manufacturer of tape and binding until 1876, when Garnetti & Gazzara operated a silk throwing plant there.  Then it became known as the Hoxey Mill until 1879, when the Jute Print Works of Henry L. Butler (father of Nicholas Murry Butler, educator) was established in part of the building, using steam and water power.  Butler was principally engaged in the printing of jute carpets and employed eight men.  Sloan Tapestry also used the old mill. In the early 1900s, velvets were manufactured there.  The Oriental Silk Printing Company eventually took over, enlarging the mill for a thriving business of dyeing and printing silk from China.

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Oriental Silk Printing Company Mill, ca. 1900
Photo: 50th Anniversary History of Haledon 1908-1958

 

 

A brief description of the company’s business is shown in the 1913 trade ad:

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Ad from “Fabric Analysis” by E. A. Posselt Philadelphia. 1913

In 1918 the Oriental Silk Printing Company employed 140 people.  Percival J. Wood (1880-1963) was the vice president and general manager from 1913 to 1934.  During this period Wood helped form the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC), serving as the first chairman of the New York section.

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Percival J. Wood
American Dyestuff Reporter
Man of Merit
1922 page 102

 

 

 

 

 

In 1921, he was named one of the Men of Merit in by AATCC.  Here is what was said:

“Percival J. Wood was born June 21, 1880, in Leeds, England, and received his preliminary education at the Leeds Boy’s Modern School, entering in 1888 and leaving in 1895 to enter the University of Leeds.  Here he took the full course in Dyeing and Tinctorial Chemistry, and on graduating in 1898 began his apprenticeship with William Grandage & Co., the Brownroyd Dyeworks, Bradford, which is now a branch of the Bradford Dyer’s Association.”

In 1901 he became Assistant Lecturer and Demonstrator of Practical Dyeing at the University of Leeds, in which post he spent the next two years, leaving in 1903 to come to this country, where he accepted the position of Chief Chemist to the American Silk Dyeing & Finishing Company, Hawthorne, N. J.  In 1906 he transferred his activities to the Peerless Finishing Company, Nyack, N. Y., of which he was Assistant Superintendent until 1908.”

It was in the latter year that he formed his connection with the Oriental Silk Printing Company, assuming the position of Superintendent and Colorist in the works at Paterson, N. J.  Three years later, in 1911, he was offered the dual responsibilities of Treasurer and General Manager, and in 1913 he assumed the duties of Vice President and General Manager, which positions he occupies to-day.” (6)

Years of labor strife in the Paterson area textile mills led to the shutdown of some mills and the relocation of others to the South.  In 1936 Harmon Colors purchased the 45 acre Oriental Silk Printing facility including Oldham Pond in North Haledon.  Harmon Colors, later acquired by Bayer, manufactured organic pigments there until 1993 when operations were shifted to a new plant in Charleston, South Carolina.

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The Master Silk Printer, trade magazine of the Oriental Silk Printing Company, published 1922-1927, provided fashion information on new silk apparel for women.
Photo:  Courtesy of the Paul J. Gutman
Library of Philadelphia University.

 

 

 

 

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Former Oriental Silk Printing Building in Haledon, NJ Shortly Before Demolition.  Photo: Robert J. Baptista, November 1993

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

  1. “Early Industries”, 50th Anniversary History of Haledon, 1908-1958
  2. Robert J. Baptista, “Harmon Colors”, website at the link http://colorantshistory.org/HarmonColors.html , accessed November 25, 2007
  3. James Chittick, Silk Manufacturing and Its Problems, New York, 1916, p. 65a
  4. Industrial Directory of New Jersey, Trenton, 1918, p. 234
  5. “P. J. Wood Dies at 83”, American Dyestuff Reporter, November 25, 1963, p. 36
  6. Man of Merit, American Dyestuff Reporter, 1921, p102.