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Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gilbert Paper Company



The Gilbert Paper Company was established in 1887 by William Gilbert Sr. and his sons William Jr., Albert, Theodore and George.  Gilbert Jr. had previously been in business with George A.Whiting, who operated the George Whiting Co. paper mill on River Street in Menasha. The Gilbert concern was built on the Lawson Canal the year of the canal’s completion and was the third paper manufacturing operation in the city. Designed by the Chicago firm of Childs & Smith, the front portion of the office was completed in 1919 and the rear by no later than 1926. The gatehouse to the northeast was also completed by 1926. In 1960, the firm was purchased by the Mead Corporation and, in 2001, by the Fox River Paper Company but ceased production later that year. Throughout its history, the company produced “higher quality, cotton-fiber content papers including bond, ledger, index and onion skin papers."  The former paper company office currently serves as the law offices for a number of attorneys.

16 comments:

  1. I remember sorting paper there in the early 50's & we sorted some currency too.People don't usually believe me but a gal I worked with remembers it too.When you checked the watermark you saw tiny blue & red speckles...I also modeled with a ream of paper for them but they never gave me a picture of my own.I DID recieve $25.00 tho &our wages at the time were only $1.25 per hr.

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  2. Hey Anonymous. You are NOT crazy! My father worked in the boiler room that generated steam for the plant and for the turbine that generated electricity for the mill. In the 1960s, my father used to tell me stories about Gilberts making paper for US currency.

    When this paper was produced, the Secret Service had agents on duty all the time to prevent somebody from taking any of it. Even the waste from the process was carefully guarded.

    An agent would accompany the waste paper to the powerhouse and watch as my father would put the stuff into the furnace that heated the boiler. Once the paper was incinerated, which I presume did not take very long, the ashes were removed from the hotbox and the agent poked through the ashes to ensure that the waste paper had been totally incinerated.

    If I recall, my father told me that Gilberts also made paper for several foreign currencies, although I don't remember the details. Unfortunately, he passed away 25 years ago so I can't ask him any more questions.

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  3. What ever happened to Bill Robinson who was a foreman in finishing dept? I will be checking for a reply because I would like to contact him.

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    1. Was he married to Darlene Robinson who worked in the office? If so they had built a house on Caman Islands for their retirement. Unsure of their wearabouts or if still living.
      I worked at Gilbert from abuot 1991 to 2000 just before they closed.
      Definitely true about them making paper for the currency. I believe there where samples hanging on the wall in sample room.

      Was alot of fun back then.

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    2. Hey I am Darlene (Snell) Robinson I work there from 1954 to 1997.. I married Bill in 1966, he passed away April 1st, 2001.. I still live on Cayman Brac one of the Cayman Islands.. I do get back to The Fox Valley in the summer for my "Spring Tune ups" with my doctors....Will be back Mid June, July maybe part of august 2014
      1-920-202-6571 e-mail sno4sun@candw.ky

      Yes we did make US currency, I worked on it as I was in the Mill for 13 years before going to the Main Office.

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  4. My uncle was a salesman for the Louisville Paper Company and passed away in the mid 80's. His wife just passed away in January 2012. While going through the estate belongings I came across a 1963 dollar bill in a money clip/wallet with this note attached:

    A memento from the Gilbert Paper Co. Mehasha, Wisconsin

    More than thirty years ago Congress passed a law providing that the Director of the Bureau of Engraving & Printing establish a second source of supply for Currency Paper which would meet Government requirements. In more than 85 years only one mill met those requirements and has been the only supplier for this type of paper.

    As a result of continued approach to the Director, and educational contract was given to our company in 1963. This contract arranged for trial lots of Currency Paper to be manufactured and printed into U.S. Currency Paper. The second trial lot shipped to the Bureau was accepted by the Government agencies and completely printed into one dollar bill, which are now in circulation.

    The enclosed bill is printed on Gilbert made "Distinctive Fibre Currency Paper".

    Pretty cool that I have this now...

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    1. I have several of the mementos given out by the Gilbert Paper Company to employees, and executives of Mead. I also wrote an article for Paper Money Magazine about Gilbert Security paper being used to print US currency. I'd like to know more, but haven't been able to speak to any past employees.

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    2. I worked there 1954 to 1997 I worked on the US Currency

      Darlene (Snell) Robinson sno4sun@candw.ky

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  5. In addition, if anyone has information concerning the Gilbert Paper Company's manufacturing of security paper used in the printing of US Currency, or has any of the one dollar bills or mementos given out in the 1960's, please contact me at stdege@verizon.net. Thank you

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  6. There were two people named Gary who worked in the finishing dept. back in the early 70's and also a guy they called Ace. Does any one know if they are still alive and if so how to contact any of them? I think one was Gary Howard. Another person was Lenny Heckner.

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    1. I think Gary Howard took care of the grounds in the late 80s. I worked with him occasionally killing weeds, etc. Nice guy… I think he went to our church too, because I think I went to Awana with his son at Calvary Bible in Neenah.

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  7. My dad worked there from the late 60s till the end. I worked at Gilbert(s) for three summers from 88-90 while I was going to college. I worked with the millwrights so I got to go everywhere on the grounds and never was questioned. One of the summers during shutdown we had to clean out the attic of the office. I remember a chute going from one of the upper windows down to a trash bin. All kinds of old stuff just got dumped, including foreign currency from one nation (can't remember what it was) that was nicely framed. Too many pieces of history gone just like that. Loved working there as did my dad and uncle Butch. They took the closing pretty hard.

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  8. It's very interesting to read through everyone's comments about the Gilbert Paper Company - I've been volunteering in the archives at the Paper Discovery Center in Appleton and sorting through loads of Gilbert paper work, documents, photographs, and records. If anyone is looking for more information, please stop by! The exhibit is on the river level. However, I haven't come across any information about printing currency so this was great to discover!

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  9. Amber V,
    They did not print currency at Gilbert paper Co they made the paper used in the printing of the US Currency. I hope this helps.

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  10. will pay top dollar for 1963 $1 ......over $700......these notes were made with Gilbert Paper and had serial numbers that started C6XXXXXXXA RH 708-447-7689 they were passed out by the company in the mid 1960's.

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  11. Note; The Gilbert Paper Series 1963 Serial Number Block is C60800001A to C61440000A (640,000 notes).
    I hope this information helps in your search, I gave up looking.
    Vernon Peterson

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