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Commemorative Ribbon for 100th anniversary of American Silk Label Mfg. Co.
C.1975-Manufactured by American Silk Label Manufacturing Company.
The Declaration of Independence had 56 signatures including 8 of our founding fathers, this showcases the fine line detail that can be achieved by using the jacquard embroidery, using multiple punch cards to capture each signature brushstroke with precision in woven silk.
“Fac-similes of the signatures to the Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776 taken from saving history of the US which John Quincy Adams certified were exact imitations of the original.”
“This historical reproduction was first woven by us in 1876 for the centennial exhibition at Philadelphia and was given an award for outstanding workmanship. The original has hung in the Smithsonian institute in Washington D.C. we are proud to weave it again in commemoration of our 100th anniversary and the coming of the bicentennial of the United States of America” -American Silk Label Mfg. Co.
American Silk Industry History:
The history of the American Silk Industry occurred in three distinct phases. The first was before the revolutionary war in which colonists, having received land grants from the Crown, cultivated silk for England’s silk mills. The second has been referred to as the “silk craze” and occurred in the decades following the Revolutionary War, lasting well into the first half of the 19th century. In this period, many of America’s most respected and intelligent personages invested in the cultivation of silk. The labor-intensive nature and resulting limited profitability of the industry made it hard for it to bounce back once the primary source of silk worm food (mulberry trees imported from France and Italy) had been wiped out by blight in the 1840’s. It all but disappeared by the beginning of the Civil War.
The third, final, largest and most successful wave of the American Silk Industry, referred to as its “Golden Age”, has its roots in Paterson, NJ. It was here that the first center of silk production emerged in the U.S. in the 1860s. In the decades following the Civil War, silk manufacturing quickly became more industrialized, fueled by the emergence of more efficient technology and transportation and the importation of silk from Asia. The number of silk mills grew to number more than 300 in Paterson by 1900. Simultaneously, silk manufacturers began to look eastward for other, potentially more cost effective sites to build their mills in the 1870’s and 80’s; places with an abundance of cheap labor (women and children, namely), that still offered easy access to NY.
The decline of many of the predominant industries of the late 18th and early 19th centuries in eastern PA (i.e. iron, coal mining, etc.), made it an ideal location for the expansion and relocation of the silk industry, and the mills a welcome addition to the local economy and way of life. Beginning with the construction of the first silk mill in PA in Scranton in 1873, and the first in the Lehigh Valley in Allentown in 1881, the eastern PA silk industry experienced a dotcom-like boom through the 1920’s.
By the 1910s, PA was the epicenter of the American Silk Industry, boasting more than 300 silk mills by 1916 and a third of the nation’s silk workers by 1920; most of which were concentrated in and around the Lehigh Valley. In fact, the silk industry was the primary employer and industry in the region by 1920. The silk boom hit its bust during the Depression, when the importation of Japanese silk products and the advent of synthetic fibers like nylon and rayon resulted in declining demand and silk prices.
Most of the mills closed or transitioned to the production of synthetic fibers, with a small percentage shifting their silk production towards more specialized, luxury items. Since the 1980’s, there has been a movement to preserve the many abandoned mills that dot the eastern PA landscape and the history they embody, repurposing them into cultural centers, offices and apartments.