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ANDOVER CHINA CO. INC.

By William A. Greene 2005

        It was officially announced on October 19, 1946 that a new industry was going to open in Andover, N.Y. and that industry would be known as the Andover China Company Inc.  The founders were Leon Coffin a former worker of the Lenox Inc. in Trenton, N.J. and Earl (Doc) Allen and Leonard S. Briggs of Andover.

       Mr. Coffin was a graduate of Alfred University in ceramic engineering and was in charge of the Andover plant.  They had leased from the Steuben Silk Mills Inc. the old stamping plant building on Rochambeau Ave.  They manufactured novelty items, lamps, complete dinnerware sets, ashtrays, soap dishes, vases, bowls, drinking glasses, and mugs, among many other styles.

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       The new plant employed mostly skilled labor and brought a few key men with them and trained about twenty-five local people for the balance. 

       The china was produced in four colors; ivory, and pastel blue, green and pink.  Sometimes an item had more that one color it.  For example, a mug may have had an ivory cup with a pink handle.  Other pieces were hand painted with gold and some had delicate decals affixed to them.

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       Like Lenox china, each piece is translucent and each piece had to be perfect to have the “Andover China” stamp on the bottom. If the stamp was in black, the china was the best, if in blue they were seconds and if they were in green they were thirds. Not all pieces were stamped some were left unmarked.

         The Andover stamp and final decorations were put on the china at the same time, and some pieces did not have additional decorations on them, therefore, they may not have gotten a stamp. Some pieces were not perfect and would not get a stamp.  Even the smallest imperfections like an air bubble in a finished piece or if some glaze ran to the bottom, it would not get a stamp.  They were very fussy.

       Locally, Andover China was available at Baker Hardware and elsewhere, During December of 1947; Baker Hardware sold pieces of Andover China for $.98, and advertised that it made a nice Christmas gift.  Baker Hardware also advertised the Andover China Table Lamp for $7.95.  But Andover China had a much larger market.  The Company’s products were nationally advertised. An example is an Andover China ad in the March 1952 issue of American Home Magazine.

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       Some pieces of china were sold in such places as Chicago, IL, Washington, DC; and New York City.  For example, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. of New York City purchased for resale such diverse items as beer mugs, razor blade holders, Tom and Jerry Cups.  Aerolux Light Corp., also of New York, purchased Andover China, as well as Nellie J Koplan, Inc. of Chicago.  Other major customers of Andover China included L.G. Balfour Co. and Rittenhouse Ware.

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       First quality 10-inch dinner plates in plain white sold at wholesale for $12 per dozen.  Seconds would be purchased for between $6.50 and $7.50 per dozen.  Decorated 10-inch dinner plates sold for $18 per dozen.  Complete service for four consisting of 4 each of 10-inch dinner plates, 7-inch salad plates, 6-inch bread and butter plates, teacups and saucers, fruit dishes, and cereal bowls sold from $23.00 to $27.80, depending of the pattern.

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       The fate of the Andover China Co., Inc. was determined by foreign competition.  Small manufacturing companies like Andover China simply could not survive in a competitive market dominated by inexpensive Japanese products.  The cost of production in post World War II Japan was extremely lower than in the United States. At one time an article produced by Andover China Company had a selling price three times that of a similar article produced in Japan.

       Andover China Company finally closed its doors in September of 1958.  For many years appreciation for the china was primarily limited to owners of the pieces and area residents who remembered the company.  Recently, however, renewed interest in the china has been developing.  Check the prices on E-Bay and see what Andover China is bringing today, you won’t find any piece for under $10.

      

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