I found what I thought I had seen in Nase Rodina

Posted: Sat, 03/19/2011 - 19:13
Author Email: 
frka100@aol.com

A couple of months ago I left a message asking if anyone had seen an article concerning the pearl button manufacturing from Zirovnice and winding up in New York City area.
Well, I found that there is an article from the book: THE CECH (BOHEMIAN) COMMUNITY OF NEW YORK by Thomas Capek (1921) and here is the quote I was looking for:

“…Pearl button makers. Excellent showing has been made in that other distinctively Cech industry, the pearl button manufacture. Though neither as old as cigar making — it was introduced here by workmen from Zirovnice, in Bohemia, after the passage in Congress of McKinley’s protective tariff — nor as voluminous (it gives employment to not more than 1,500 or 1,600 operatives), pearl button making has contrived to school not only factory hands but factory bosses as well. The number of Cech manufacturers is 67, located as follows: Connecticut (West Willington, Stafford- ville, Higganum), 6; New Jersey (North Bergen, Secaucus, Little Ferry, Cliffside, Guttenberg, New Durham), 20; Illinois (Chicago), 1. Of the 40 plants in Greater New York, 19 are situated in Manhattan, 12 in Winfield, 7 in Astoria, 1 in Maspeth, 1 in Islip. These 67 concerns represent an investment of from $1,500,000 to $1,750,000: 12 manufac- turers have invested $25,000 and over; 15 manufacturers have invested $10,000 to $20,000; 15 manufacturers have invested $5,000 to $10,000; 25 manufacturers have invested $1,500 to $5,000. Several of the smaller manufacturers do not employ”, Statement by Joseph Wodicka, Secretary of No. 141 of the Cigar Makers’ International Union of Americ. “any outside help, relying solely upon members of their own families for labor”. The number of operatives is 1,550. In normal times this figure would be considerably higher. **The volume of business as based on statistics for 1920 is between $3,000,000 and $3,500,000, and it represents,’‘ says Mr. W. E. Schwanda, “slightly less than one-half of the total value of ocean pearl buttons produced in the United States. …”

In case anyone is interested, here is another piece of information about Zirovnice:

Castle Zirovnice. Originally it was a Gothic castle founded here in the second half of the 13th century. It had a triangular layout with a round tower and the chapel on its southern side. In the end second half of the 14th century it was enlarged and fortified. During the 16th and 17th centuries it was continuously being reconstructed and it was finally rebuilt into the chateau. In 1910 the town bought it and the town museum was located here. In the 1960’s the chateau burnt down, but it was quickly and completely restored.
A lot of owners changed there. The Sternberk family – one of the most important proprietors – owned it from 1693 till 1910.
… and furthermore:
The town of Zirovnice is famed for its manufacture of mother-of-pearl buttons. The Museum of Buttons and Pearlwork can be visited in the town chateau, itself dating from the mid-13th century.