The subtle beauty of Castleton patterns, (of which we have a great selection on our web site) belies the toughness and tenacity required on the part of the founders of Castleton to create and grow a company that was to become a legend in the tableware industry.
In 1901, the New Castle China company was created via the purchase of the New Castle Shovel Works Factory in New Castle, PA. The company soon acquired another pottery manufacturer, Shenango Pottery. The New Castle factory focused on producing hotelwares and semi-porcelain dinnerware services. Although the company primarily focused on the production of dinnerware services, the New Castle factories also produced industrial tiles, odd dishes, and home fixtures.
The first years of Castleton’s existence were marked by financial difficulties. The company was reorganized several times, and in 1909 one of these reorganizations led to the New Castle factories emerging under the name “Shenango Pottery Company.” Under the astute leadership of James MacMath Smith, Shenango Pottery was quickly turned into a productive and successful business.
By 1912, the company had outgrown its two small factories in New Castle and in 1913, the New Castle factories were merged into one location on Grant Street. Soon after manufacturing equipment was installed in the Grant Street location, a large flood swept through the New Castle area. On the day of its grand opening, the floor of the new factory was covered in three feet of water. Smith, a man deterred neither by adversity nor this flood, committed himself to growing the New Castle factory and the Shenango Pottery name in spite of his misfortune.
The years following the 1913 flood were marked by a steady increase in production and in sales. Then the Great Depression came and created problems for the fledgling company. Coal and other resources used to make fine china were expensive and often unattainable. James MacMath Smith was a man who never gave up though, and as president of the company, he spent many hours researching new ways to produce glazes that required less of the resources that were hard to find at that time. When machines broke or equipment failed, Smith would often leave his office to fix the problem himself – tasks not often handled by executive staff.
Smith’s dedication paid off in 1936 when Haviland China of Limoges, France sought the services of the New Castle factories. For close to 100 years, Haviland worked to develop an international reputation for producing the very best fine china. Fearing that France would soon be invaded by Hitler and the Nazi forces, William Haviland requested that Shenango Pottery and the New Castle Potteries begin producing Haviland products. Also, increasing duties on Haviland’s products that were shipped from France to the United States were making it cost prohibitive to manufacture Haviland items in France and ship them to the United States.
From 1936 until 1958, Shenango produced Haviland products bearing the name “Haviland – Made in America.” These products were immensely popular throughout America, and allowed for continued growth of the Shenango and New Castle names. Rosenthal China of Germany also felt that an impending German war would stall production. Rosenthal contacted Shenango and arranged a deal similar to the one created for Haviland. The pieces, molds, formulas, shapes, and patterns of Rosenthal were marketed under the Castleton China name. In 1951, Shenango purchased all of its US holdings of the Rosenthal Company and continued producing Castleton tableware products. So, armed with this in-depth knowledge of Castleton, you are now prepared to really enjoy browsing the selection of Castleton patterns on our web site.