Joseph Bancroft and Sons Company photographsCreation: 1888-1952
Joseph Bancroft (1803-1874), an Englishman trained in textile weaving in Lancashire, established his own cotton mill on the Brandywine near Wilmington in 1831. The operation became the Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company in 1889. The photographs consist of images related to the Joseph Bancroft & Sons textile mills in the Rockford and, later, Kentmere areas on the banks of the Brandywine River. These images include plant exteriors and interiors, officials and employees, aerials, workers' housing, machinery, floods, and dams and races on Brandywine Creek.
- Creation: 1888-1952
- Joseph Bancroft & Sons Co (Organization)
1.5 Linear Feet
General Physical Description
1 photographic print : b&w ; 20 x 100 cm.; 1 photographic print : b&w ; 66 x 82 cm.; 1 photographic print : b&w ; 60 x 50 cm.; 1 photographic print : b&w ; 59 x 46 cm. on 71 x 56 cm. board.; 7 photographic prints : b&w ; 16 x 20 or smaller.; 2 photographic prints : b&w ; 11 x 14 in.; 138 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in.; 153 photographic prints : b&w ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller.; 5 photographic prints on stereocards : stereographs ; 9 x 18 cm.; 3 photographic prints : cabinet photographs ; 17 x 11 cm.; 1 print : etching ; 3 x 6 in.; 1 print : postcard ; 10 x 15 cm.; 1 print : lithograph ; 51 x 80 cm.; 1 print : lithograph ; 43 x 75 cm.; 17 items : cartoons ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller.; 3 items : magazine covers ; approx. 8 x 10 in.; 24 items : labels ; 5 x 6 in. and smaller.; 1 item : fabric swatch ; 6 x 6 in.; 1 item : site plan ; 100 x 129 cm.; and 2 items : site plans ; 78 x 112 cm.
Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company manufactured, bleached, dyed, and finished a variety cotton-made goods. After World War I it added synthetics to its production, and these included rayon and nylon fabrics. The company was incorporated in 1889.
The companies namesake, Joseph Bancroft (1803-1874) began manufacturing cotton cloth at a small mill in Rockford, Delaware, just north of Wilmington, on March 25, 1831. The mill was built in order to take advantage of the Brandywine River's water power and Bancroft adopted the traditional British spinning and weaving technology for use in his operation. The firm expanded steadily during the 1830s and 1840s as it began to produce cotton for both the Philadelphia and New York markets. In the late 1840s, Joseph Bancroft brought his two sons, William (1825-1928) and Samuel (1840-1915), into the business assuring that the company would remain a family enterprise. During the Civil War, when the American market was largely closed to English imports, the Bancroft firm, like most other U.S. textile companies, prospered. After the war, the company developed a new bleaching process and began to concentrate on finishing cotton cloth.
In 1929, the Bancroft Company merged with the Eddystone Manufacturing Company. In the mid-1930s it began producing a line of rayon goods and a cotton finishing process that were marketed under the trade names of "Ban-Lon" and "Everglaze" respectively. The Banlon and Everglaze processes were widely licensed in Europe and America and by the early 1950s foreign royalties accounted for more than seventy per cent of the firm's total profits. In 1961, the Bancroft Company became a division of Indian Head Mills, Inc., of New York City. The Rockford factory closed in 1981.
Scope and Content
The photographs consist of images related to the Joseph Bancroft & Sons textile mills in the Rockford and, later, Kentmere areas on the banks of the Brandywine River. These images include plant exteriors and interiors, officials and employees, aerials, workers' housing, machinery, floods, and dams and races on Brandywine Creek. One notable sketch of the property was done by Richard Rummel. Also included are two schematic plans documenting all the plant operations at Rockford and Kentmere (1961). Some views include the Brandywine Granite Company quarry which was on the opposite bank of the Brandywine. There is one mechanical drawing from Rice, Barton & Fales, Inc. of the ventilated dry tower of a textile printing machine. There are Wilmington plant site plans of the "Layout of Mill Supply & Fire Distribution Water Supply from Filters and Reservoirs" (1961) and "Property of Joseph Bancroft & Sons for proposed sale and leaseback" (1962).
Additional material consists of items related to the Eddystone, Pennsylvania, plant which Bancroft & Sons acquired by absorbing Eddystone Manufacturing Company. The factory was originally constructed in 1874. The following contents are included: photos of awards which the Eddystone Mfg. Co. received at several world's fairs; exterior and interior views of the Eddystone plant including a lithographic sketch of the plant by Frederich Falls (circa 1895); studio portraits of elderly employees who worked for Garner & Company in Reading before the Bancroft take-over; photographs and some originals (lithography by F. Morse, Philadelphia) of nineteenth century textile labels (from Wm. Simpson & Sons and other companies: Atlantic De Laine Co., Niagara Co., Thornton Print Works showing textile mills); original textile tags mounted on board from Washington Prints, Gloucester, New Jersey) which were probably attached to bolts of cloth; textile tags from Gobelin Art Drapery [Co.] and a small fabric swatch; a small engraving labeled "Foxhill Bank Works Lancashire" [England] showing the exterior of a textile mill; some oversize materials relate to the Washington Print Works, the earlier Simpson plant on the Schuykill. There is an undated Hexamer insurance survey of the Schuykill plant.
The smallest portion of the collection contains images related to the Reading, Pennsylvania, cotton mill. This site, which originally was the Reading Cotton Mill, was owned by Garner & Company of New York from 1861 until it was absorbed by Bancroft. There are some views of the block long factory and studio portraits of elderly employees with long service with Garner & Company.
Existence and Location of Copies
View selected images in Hagley Digital Archives
Language of Materials
Conservation Action Note
site plan conserved july 2007 surface cleaned, sponge; tape removed, mechanically; adhesive removed, mechanically; adhesive stain reduced, solvents; humidified, flattened; paper mended (107), japanese paper and wheat starch paste; loss filled (5), japanese paper and wheat starch paste fickeissen
site plan conserved july 2007 surface cleaned, sponge; humidified, flattened; paper mended (89), japanese paper and wheat starch paste; loss filled (2), japanese paper and wheat starch paste fickeissen
site plan conserved july 2007 surface cleaned, sponge; humidified, flattened; paper mended (87), japanese paper and wheat starch paste; loss filled (2), japanese paper and wheat starch paste fickeissen
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Joseph Bancroft and Sons Company photographs
- Laura Bees
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