Lustroware’s Mom and Dad - Columbus Plastics at Mama’s Treasures Gebhard W. Keny went to work at the Paul A. Norris Company in Wellston, Ohio for what he thought would be a summer job. It was 1938 and by the fall everything had changed for him.
News-Antique.com - Feb 28,2008 - Gebhard W. Keny went to work at the Paul A. Norris Company in Wellston, Ohio for what he thought would be a summer job. It was 1938 and by the fall everything had changed for him. The company was going out of business and instead of heading back to Cambridge, he started a small plastics company with another Norris employee, W. J. Braley. They named it Columbus Plastics, Incorporated and it began with four
employees and two second hand injection molding machines.
At first, the company produced only plastic components to the specifications of other companies. Within a couple of years it was decided that they would develop, produce, and market their own line of plastic products. By 1946 the custom order business was phased out and the Columbus brand was changed in favor of Lustroware. Sales soared and by the late 1940s the company was recognized as having the most complete line of thermoplastic housewares. One reason for this is that they made development of new products a priority. They had developed their own design staff in 1939.
Columbus was responsible for many firsts in the industry. It pioneered blow molding of houseware items such as waste baskets and watering cans. It also engineered many innovative and cost effective technological developments in the plastics molding
industry. They helped make better, less costly plastic products a reality. In 1966 Columbus Plastic was acquired by the Borden Company. At that time they had over three hundred items in their product line. employed seven hundred people, and sales were $14 million annually.
I grew up on plastic and I never thought of it being an amazing, innovative product. I was just happy it didn’t shatter when I dropped it. Now it's one of the hottest collectibles in the vintage market. It began with the simple idea of making a product that was less expensive than glass. Today plastic can be found in every household. This product’s history leaves me in awe. If you’d like to now more about the history of plastics, I recommend “The Housewares Story,” Earl Lifshey, 1973, National
Housewares Manufacturers Association.
At Mama’s Treasures we specialize in plastics of the 1940s through the 1980s. I am especially fond of Lustroware. It’s hard to find in good condition. The products were practical as well as just plain fun to use everyday. You can’t help but smile when you see
a bright red Lustroware clothesline reel, salt and pepper or reamer in your kitchen. We’re proud of the plastics we carry and would like you to come and browse our products. If nothing else, they’re sure to bring back a memory or two. Right now prices have been reduced 15%-40% on over 1000 items in the store. Layaway is now being offered too. So why not take a break, grab some coffee, and take a stroll to a less complicated time at Mama's Treasures.