In 1871, the Onondaga Pottery Company was incorporated in Syracuse, New York and purchase the struggling Empire Crockery Manufacturing Company. The company was managed by an English potter, Lyman Clark, who hired English potters and began training local men. The company produced undecorated pottery, mainly stoneware until 1886, when fire destroyed a nearby decorating shop and Onondaga Pottery Company took on its employees to establish one of the first in-house decorating departments in America.
In 1885, James Pass joined the Company as Superintendent and, later, President. He transformed the Company into a leader in ceramic research. By 1891, they were turning out a “vitrified” china that was white, thin, translucent, and stronger than any European porcelain. At first called Imperial Geddo, in 1895, these wares were given the name Syracuse China.
In 1896, the company unveiled its “rolled edge” china which became a standard in the commercial food industry.
In 1933, Roy Cowan became chief designer and developed an art deco Econo-Rim shape which was especially suited for use in confined spaces and consequently captured 70% of the railroad market
During the Second World War, the Company produced ceramic anti-tank mines and, in the late 1950s, ceramic components for radio and television.
For the next six decades, Syracuse continued to expand and prosper until 1970 when the company closed its consumer division, giving in to the cheaper, Japanese imports and focusing on the commercial market. In 1978, the Company was purchased by Canadian Pacific Investments, a multinational conglomerate. It is now a subsidiary of Libbey Inc.