San-KNIT-ary Texile Mills Records
HISTORICAL NOTESimon Muhr started the small Philadelphia family business that would eventually be called San-KNIT-ary Texile Mills under an unknown name. The first reference in the collection to the company is the sale of 30 shares for $3,000 cash by Simon Muhr on February 3, 1879 in the Philadelphia Straw Braid Sewing Machine Company. The next reference is a $500 debt, incurred to a supplier, which was paid off by Julia Friedberger, Muhr’s sister, in 1895. By the early years of the century, the company was known as Unique Textile Mills. On June 6, 1907, Unique Textile Mills’ name was officially changed to San-KNIT-ary Textile Mills.
According to the notes of the last company president, Jean Paul Dalsimer, Muhr was “very creative but a poor business person.” He borrowed so much money from his sister that she became the chief stockholder upon his death in 1935. The company then passed to her son, Paul Dalsimer, in the 1940s. When Paul died in 1987, his sons Walter and Jean Paul inherited the controlling shares. Jean Paul Dalsimer became active in the company in 1982 and continued as president until its liquidation in 1988.
The company produced many textiles such as washcloths, towels, razor wipes, filters, camouflage materials during World War II, pajama girdles, and shoe cleaners in its factory on Lena Street in northern Philadelphia. Shoe cleaners, personalized with a company logo, were sold to hotels and motels. From mid-1970s until mid-1980s San-KNIT-ary had an exclusive arrangement with the Marriott chain of hotels. Marriott was their largest client and accounted for 30-40% of their total client sales; thus when, in the mid 1980’s, Marriott decided to purchase its textiles overseas, San-KNIT-ary suffered significant loss.
In an introductory note that accompanied the donation of the San-KNIT-ary collection, Jean Paul Dalsimer stated that he was not interested in running the company for the rest of his life. When an opportunity for sale of the business presented itself, the business was liquidated in 1988.
COLLECTION OVERVIEWThe records of San-KNIT-ary Textile Mills consist of 3.5 linear feet of material, and cover the years 1879 to 1989, with the bulk of material dating from the late 1930s through the 1980s.
Financial records comprise over one-half of the collection, and include financial statements, federal, state, and city tax returns, and client and general ledgers. Many of these financial records are organized by fiscal year, which for San-KNIT-ary Textile Mills was July 1 to June 30. The Administration series contains such vital information as the company’s by-laws and minutes of the Board of Directors and Stockholders’ meetings, as well as records related to the company’s sale and liquidation in 1988. Regrettably missing from this material are any significant correspondence files with clients or vendors, or any personnel files. The other two series, Memorabilia and Photographs, include examples of shoe cleaners, one of the company’s principle products, particularly in the last decade or so of the company’s existence, and several photographs of the interior of the textile mill in 1985.
Taken as a whole this material should prove valuable to researchers interested in small, family-run businesses operating in Philadelphia, particularly in the textile industry, which was Philadelphia’s most important industry in the years prior to World War II, after which many of the mills migrated south.
ORGANIZATION AND ARRANGEMENT
The collection is broken down into four series: Financial, Administration, Memorabilia, and Photographs.Series I. Financial. The time span for this series is 1937-1988. Includes the subseries Monthly Cash Disbursements; Monthly Accounts Receivable; Investment Statements (includes Advest); Quarterly Balance Sheets and General Ledger, organized by fiscal year; Input to Financial Statements, organized by fiscal year; Journal Entries (July 1987-liquidation); Philadelphia Tax Returns; Federal Tax Returns; Pennsylvania Tax Returns (many tax return folders include correspondence pertaining to tax filing problems); Preferred Stock Certificates (bound); Common Stock Certificates (bound); Client Ledger (arranged alphabetically by client name, date coverage for each client varies); Inventory Report (bound); Price Lists; General Ledger (bound); and Fiscal Year Financial Reports.
See Also Series II, Administration and Organization, subseries Liquidation for Fiscal Year Financial Reports 1983-1989.
Series II. Administration. The time span for this series is 1895-1988. Includes the subseries Deeds (which also includes one lease between San-KNIT-ary and Andrews, Inc. in 1988); Liquidation Documents (1983-1988); Bylaws (missing 1977-78, 1980-81, 1983, and 1987), Board of Director Minutes and Annual Shareholder Meeting Minutes; Sale of Lena Street Building; Buildings; Study for the Use of a Personal Computer; Sale of Business to Sherman Manufacturing (includes contract for sale of business and related correspondence).
Note: Bylaws, Board of Director Minutes and Annual Shareholder Meeting Minutes are grouped together, rather than foldered separately according to activity, to preserve original order: these items were removed from three-ring binders where they were grouped together and arranged chronologically. This subseries ranges from 1938-1988 but is not complete. Study for the Use of a Personal Computer includes a succinct but useful history of the company and provides an overview of the finances, operations and systems of San-KNIT-ary circa 1984.
Series III. Memorabilia. No date. Comprised of Shoe Cleaner samples from the Plaza Towers, the Red Apple Inn and Executive Conference Center, and the Navigator Inn.
Series IV. Photographs. Includes six photographs, two copies each, of the San-KNIT-ary factory interior, including workers. The photographs are dated 1985. Photographs are located in the Miscellaneous Photograph Collection (PC-49).