American Philatelic Society

Pennsylvania Match Company 1899 - 1922

Photo of the complex in the early days

During the 1890s Bellefonte’s primary industrial base, largely dependent on lumber and iron, changed focus. The two most prominent planning mills, visibly and strategically located to take advantage of Spring Creek’s natural source of water power were diversifying. As the population grew and the construction industry expanded, the demand for finished lumber, window sash, doors, frames, shutters and other decorative wood elements increased.

Likewise, the iron industry experienced a similar trend with the establishment of companies that manufactured end products such as rakes, miner’s picks, farm implements, and scales. It was also during this decade that a Board of Trade was formed to address the need to encourage further and more extensive manufacturing enterprises. Electric streetcars and pottery were two such endeavors, which never came to fruition.

However, it was the influence of Fountain W. Crider, managing partner of P.B. Crider and Son Planing Mill and co-owner of Robbins and Crider Skewer Factory that influenced the establishment of the Pennsylvania Match Factory in Bellefonte. In 1897, P.B. Crider and Son was the largest of two planning mills located along Spring Creek in Bellefonte. Associated with the planning mill was the skewer factory which operated from the Crider lumber yards and made small wooden pins used in fastening meat roasts together. Fifteen employees produced thousands of skewers per hour, shipped to destinations such as the Swift meat packing plant in Chicago. In October 1898, F.W. Crider installed a machine which dramatically increased skewer production. This machine had been used by the Hanover (PA) Match Company in their production of match sticks.

On 27 September 1899, as a result of F.W. Crider’s success with the production of wooden skewers, he, as an equal partner and in conjunction with his father, P.B. Crider, W. Fred Reynolds, and Joseph L. Montgomery organized the Pennsylvania Match Company of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. That same week, ground was broken for the construction of the industrial buildings. Robert Cole, of Bellefonte, was the architect. According to local newspaper accounts, the main factory building was to be 260 feet long by 60 feet wide with separate structures for the boiler, engine house, and chemical building. All structures were to be constructed of brick, one and two stories high, and covered with a slate roof.

By 1911, The Pennsylvania match Company, now incorporated, was one of the eight largest match factories in the United States. Seven registered trademarks: “Sunlight, Phoenix, Automobile, Competitor, Sterling, Keystone, and Quaker” and eight non-registered trade names: “Pennsylvania Noiseless, Pan American, World, Chesapeake, Starlight, Union, Miniers, and Calvert” were listed in the incorporation papers. (Deed Book 112/303 and Misc D. R/299) Twelve years later on January 1, 1923, The Pennsylvania Match Company was sold to the Federal Match Corporation. (Deed Book 130/348)

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