In October 2020, Tim Botos wrote an article in The Repository about an interesting mid-20th century photo album of Republic Stamping & Enameling employees that had somehow found its way to a collector in Brooklyn, New York. The collector had consigned the album to an auction, but it failed to sell for the minimum bid of $1200.
Although we do not have budget for acquisitions, the Museum scrambled to find a donor who would purchase the album for us. Although Kathleen Fernandez generously offered to purchase it for us through her Fernandez Hillibish History Fund at the Stark Community Foundation, we were too late. The album had already been sold to someone else, and we had missed our chance.
A few months later, Executive Director Kim Kenney received an email from Michael Sponhour. He had purchased the album with the intent to donate it to the Museum! But first, he indexed all 281 names that appeared in the captions, and did some preliminary research on Republic Stamping & Enameling.
And the idea for a Keller Gallery exhibition was born.
This exhibition captures a slice of life in a mid-20th century factory, when Canton a national leader in this kind of manufacturing. We will explore the process of creating enamelware, as well as the social side of Republic Stamping & Enameling, including company sponsored social activities like bowling leagues, Christmas parties, and company picnics. There will be a complete reproduction of the entire photo album available for visitors to flip through in the exhibition, as well as the index of names that Sponhour created.
“Snapshots from the Factory Floor” will be on view in the Keller Gallery from June 23 through September 3, 2022.