As we continue to look at Beaver County Memories, we turn our attention to “industrial strength” memories. This segment is part of a special series showcasing the manufacturing sector. Beaver County Memories brought to you by St. Barnabas.
Beaver County is well known for making steel. Behemoth mills bearing the names of Jones and Laughlin, Crucible and Babcock and Wilcox became legendary for their contributions to the local economy as well as keeping the world supplied with top quality products, as only Beaver County workers could produce. But there were other things that were made in Beaver County. Everything from fine china to chocolates, to bricks to cork and many other products were created by local residents through the years.
Even as this segment was being written, a quick search on one of the prominent online auction sites found over eleven hundred items listed for sale bearing the name of Mayer China. The listing of items included everything from cups, saucers, bowls, plates, teapots, coffee mugs and other items that were created at Mayer China’s plant located in Beaver Falls. Some of the locally produced dinnerware was priced, in some cases, over a thousand dollars for a complete table setting.
Mayer China continues to be a very popular and well recognized brand as it was back in the day. The company had a very successful run for around a hundred years that began in 1881 when Ernest and Joseph Mayer bought Economy Pottery, a small company that was originally set up by The Harmonist Society. By the 1920’s Mayer China was recognized around the world as being a top quality product and was used in cruise ships, railroads, fancy hotels and later on airlines. Mayer China even supplied its signature place settings for the The White Star Line, the famous British ship builder that built the RMS Titanic.
Mayer China was located near the Beaver River along second avenue in Beaver Falls. That location enabled the plant to harness water power from the river in the early days to run its machines. At its height, around three hundred people worked in the factory and they helped create a lasting legacy. A tradition especially common among people from Beaver Falls, continues to be flipping over plates and saucers in restaurants to see if the chinaware has the Mayer China name imprinted on the bottom. In addition, Beaver County grandparents would bequeath their precious sets of Mayer China to their grandkids. The chinaware produced by Mayer China seemed to have special value simply because it was made locally in Beaver Falls.
Mayer China closed in 1990, but was reopened a couple of times up through about 2000 under different ownerships before closing for good. The factory has since been torn down, but the former office building and warehouse store still stands and houses a used auto parts business.
Here is one tip from the writer, wait until you are completely done with that cup of coffee before you turn it upside down to inspect it for the Mayer China name. A suggestion learned from experience.
This “industrial strength” Beaver County memory has been presented by St. Barnabas. Archived transcripts of this and other Beaver County Memories can be found at Beaver County Radio dot com. Tune in everyday for another Beaver County Memory on WBVP, WMBA, 99.3 F.M., and online through google play and iTunes apps, and Alexa smart devices.