Blue Ribbon Factory

Blue Ribbon Factory (p. 1)


Blue Ribbon Factory (p. 1)


[page 1]

[corresponds to cover of The Columbus Dispatch Sunday Magazine, July 12, 1959]


Sunday MAGAZINE July 12, 1959




Little Ashley Firm's Prize Symbols

Used Far and Wide at Fairs and Hobby Shows

By BOB WALDRON Photos by Jack Hutton
Blue Ribbon Factory (p. 2)


Blue Ribbon Factory (p. 2)


[page 2]

[corresponds to page 6 of The Columbus Dispatch Sunday Magazine, July 12, 1959]

[photo: Engravings of state seals and organization insigne are kept on

hand for reproduction in gold on the prize ribbons and badges.]

WHEN the chips are down and the judge steps for-

ward to hand out the blue ribbon for first prize--whether

it be at the county fair or a school track meet or a beauty

contest--chances are the colorful award with its all-

important gold legend is a product of the quiet town of

Ashley, Ohio, in upper Delaware County.

From a sturdy old two-story brick schoolhouse, long

since abandoned as a seat of learning, the R.B. Powers

Company now supplies prize ribbons by the hundreds of

thousands for events of every description all over the

United States and halfway around the world.

"Our firm was one of the first in the country to pro-

duce printed ribbons as awards," says the present owner,

A.F. Powers. "The business was started back in 1880 by

the late R.B. Powers, who first got the idea of supplying

ribbon prizes at the Ashley Independent Fair, which in its

day was known for its early opening date--the first one

in Ohio every summer.

"The plant was a one-man operation in its early days,

and was down to three during World War II, but now in

peak summer periods employment climbs to about 50,

including a number of college students home on vacation.

Regular employes are mostly local people, many of whom

have been with us for years and are expert technicians in

their phase of the work. Foreman Webb Welch, for in-

stance, is a 25-year veteran.

"We are one of the four largest companies in this

business in the United States. Every year we supply award

ribbons to 70 per cent of the county fairs in Ohio, we

have been the winning bidder for the Ohio State Fair's

business for the past several years, and we have good cov-
Blue Ribbon Factory (p. 3)


Blue Ribbon Factory (p. 3)


[page 3]

[corresponds to page 7 of The Columbus Dispatch Sunday Magazine, July 12, 1959]

[photo: A.F. Powers, owner

of the Ashley concern, looks

over the stockroom where

large supplies of ribbons are kept.]

erage in Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania,

where our sales representatives operate directly from the

local plant.

"California, too, has become a major market for us,

and we ship to Alaska, the Dominican Republic, and as

far away as the Philippines. We can't do much in Canada

or Great Britain because of their high tariffs. Spanish let-

tering for ribbons going to the Dominican Republic give

us a little trouble sometimes, and we keep a dictionary

handy to check the spelling.

"We use over a million yards of ribbon a year. I think

it is safe to say our employes handle two to three times

that many different pieces of varying widths and lengths

in a year's time. Satin and a combination of satin and

silk are used for the bulk of our orders, but there are a

few customers who demand pure silk.

"Beside fairs, such events as horse, dog and cat shows,

hobbies, stamps, antiques, flowers, live stock, track meets,

school science fairs and bathing beauty competitions help

make prize-ribbons manufacturing a year-around business.

Twenty years ago rabbit shows were very popular, and

made us a good winter business, but these have died out,

and we keep looking for something else to take their place.

Our production is at lowest ebb from November through

March, picking up then as fairs open in southern states

and hitting a peak in mid-July."

In the process of making award ribbons, the desired

wordage first is hand-set in brass or bronze type, which is

in itself quite expensive--some of the pieces being worth

as much as $1.50 each. The type is placed in either an

automatic machine or hand operated press, depending on


[photo: Rosettes, which adorn

the more elaborate prize ribbons,

require a special sewing

machine on which ribbon is pleated.]
Blue Ribbon Factory (p. 4)


Blue Ribbon Factory (p. 4)


[page 4]

[corresponds to page 8 of The Columbus Dispatch Sunday Magazine, July 12, 1959]

The Columbus Dispatch Magazine--July 12, 1959

RIBBONS, continued

the size of the order, and gold-leaf lettering is pressed on

the abric with the aid of heat, which helps to make it

adhere properly.

Since many prize ribbons are a one-of-a-kind proposi-

tion, necessitating frequent changes in legend and color

of fabric, the gas heated tipple, or tip, presses get plenty

of use. On the machines used in turning out larger orders,

both the ribbon and gold leaf move into position over the

type automatically.

Actually, "gold" leaf is somewhat of a misnomer, for

on most jobs a composition leaf is employed quite satis-

factorily and at lower cost to the customer. Where pure

gold leaf is required, all unused portions are carefully

saved and returned to the manufacturer for salvage and


Several of the machines used int he Powers plant have

been adapted to the ribbon business from other industries

such as shoe manufacturing, bookbinding and automobile

brake-band cutting.

After printing, flat ribbons go to the sewing room for

hemming and pressing.

Rosettes, which are enjoying great popularity, are a

special art. They require a special sewing machine for

pleating the ribbon, and as high as 78 different hand and

machine operations are required in making some of the

most complicated designs.

To meet the varied requirements of their many clients,

the Powers company has added convention badges, ban-

ners and silk screen posters to its production, besides

handling a line of trophies. Another natural forward step

would be the ticket business, Powers believes.

Competition has many rewards. Every time a prize

ribbon is handed out, there are two winners--the fellow

who gets the award, and the ribbon maker in Asley, Ohio.

(The End)

Dublin Core


Blue Ribbon Factory


Local business--Village of Ashley--Delaware County--Ohio
Newspapers--Columbus Dispatch--Ohio
Village of Ashley--Delaware County--Ohio


Columbus Dispatch story of the Blue Ribbon Factory in Ashley, Ohio.


Reporter Bob Waldron; Photographer Jack Hutton


The Columbus Dispatch Sunday Magazine, July 12, 1959


The Columbus Dispatch; Columbus, Ohio


July 12,1959







Still Image





Reporter Bob Waldron; Photographer Jack Hutton, “Blue Ribbon Factory,” Delaware County Memory, accessed July 15, 2024,

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