Being a transplant to the Syracuse area, I found interesting decorative items made out of plastic or faux wood; such as wall art, sconces and mirrors while shopping at my local thrift stores, yard sales, etc. Most of the pieces were tagged “Syroco” on the back. Naturally, as Syroco was based out of Syracuse, NY. The more I hunted, the more I found; similar items made by different manufacturers, sometimes even identical. Found some made out of metal. In attempting to research these items, I found there was very little information about most of these companies.
Here’s what I was able to round up / sort out / dig up:
Who or what is Syroco?
History from Syracuse University
“The Syracuse Ornamental Company, known as Syroco, was an American manufacturing company based in Syracuse, New York. They were best known for their molded wood-pulp products that resembled hand-carving.
Founded in Syracuse, New York in 1890 by immigrant Adolph Holstein, the Syracuse Ornamental Company (Syroco) specialized in decorative wood carving, especially for the local residential market. Products included fireplace mantelpieces and other types of interior decoration popular in late Victorian homes. To meet increasing market demand and sales opportunities Holstein developed a material looked and felt like wood but that which could be shaped, allowing multiple pieces to be produced through a molding process. The new product, which combined wood pulp brought from the Adirondacks with flour as a binder and other materials to give it strength, was extruded and then cut to fit compression molds, which had were made from original carvings in real wood.
Production of this new molded product, known as SyrocoWood, was the mainstay of the company’s production through the 1940s. The finished material could be smoothed and varnished to look like wood, or it could be painted. Sales catalogues from the early 1900s through the 1920s offer hundreds of varieties of moldings, capitals, brackets, volutes, and reliefs of vases, garlands, cartouches, scrollwork, and other details in a variety of styles.
By the 1930s the company had also developed an extensive line of gift and novelty items made of “SyrocoWood” and also “Woodite,” a combination of wood flour and polymer. In the 1960s the company began to use injection molding for some of its products, but did not entirely abandon its old processes.
Syroco added more lines of injection molded plastics when a new plant was opened in nearby Baldwinsville in 1963 which was entirely geared to plastics production, especially PVCs and polystyrene. The company began to use plastic in new “modern” designs and new forms for clocks, mirrors, tables and a range of household items.
In 1965 the company was bought by Rexall Drug and Chemical Company (which soon changed its name to Dart Industries). Dart owned Tupperware, from which Syroco gained more knowledge of injection molding.”
“C” and “D” are from at least 1939, they were used on all of the pieces for the New York World’s Fair in 1939.
The “J” and “K” stickers are from after 1964, when that new logo (the “S” with a chisel through it) was trademarked.
You will find some Dart and Crestyle pieces identical to Syroco. This was common; because Dart and Crestyle were both subsidies of Rexall Drugs (The parent company), so they reused old Syroco dies and just changed the manufacturer name. Syroco purchased Burwood and some of it’s assets in 1997. It’s unknown if they ever did anything with the name.