Manufacturer: Scammell China
User: Ellis Island
Date of plate: circa 1935 – 1940
Notes: According to Wikipedia, the Federal Government opened its new immigration on Ellis Island, New York, on January 1, 1892. It was destroyed by a fire in 1897, and a new fire-proof brick station opened on December 17, 1900.
During the early years the conditions for immigrants were extremely bad. In the article The Uprooted: A Century of Immigrants…and Scandal by rblumenthal posted December 30, 2015, he writes: "New arrivals were robbed in the halls, shortchanged at the currency-exchange windows, and overcharged in the restaurant and railroad ticket booths. Agents took bribes to let the unfit pass or avoid questioning. Dishes weren't washed between meals and the floors were littered with bones and food debris.
"The government had dealt with the scandalous conditions at Ellis Island by bidding out food service, currency-exchange and baggage handling to private contractors. Until 1908, when the contracts came up for re-bidding, the food contractor, Harry Balfe, was paid by the steamship lines, 24 cents a day to feed each person at Ellis Island."
The commissary contractor who used the Scammell plate shown above is not known.
In 1922 Charles A. May created a border design that Maddock wanted to market to a large number of customers, so Maddock applied for a patent in hopes of keeping other china companies from copying it. The patent, #62,090, was issued on May 13, 1923. One of this pattern's many customers was the unknown caterer that had the Ellis Island contract. Photographs from as early as 1926 to as late as 1931 show this pattern in use at Ellis Island. This china service, based on the photographs, seems to have been limited to 9 1/2" plates, soup plates, and handless cups. All of these pieces are fully backstamped for the Commissary Contractor on Ellis Island. There are also cups with handles. These may have been used in the employee dining room, which was located on the second floor of the Powerhouse Building. It cannot be assumed that any china with this pattern without the Ellis Island backstamp was used there.
City University of New York
New Public Library
For more info:
Ellis Island by Scammell
ID and photos contributed by Paul Trosko
Research contributed by Larry Paul