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The Champion Coated Paper Company

Peter G. Thomson pursued the idea of starting a coated paper mill because he saw that paper and printing demands were changing, pushed by such improvements as the halftone process. Starting in the late 1880s, halftones began replacing wood cuts and steel or copper engravings in newspapers, magazines and catalogs. But existing rough grades of paper were inadequate to achieve a good print quality. He believed that the market would demand coated paper (sometimes called enameled paper). The coating filled hollow spots and provided a smooth, ink-receptive surface for the varied shades of the halftones. Thomson thought that an inexpensive coated paper would have unlimited market potential.

In his research, Thomson learned that patents for coating machines were owned by Charles H. Gage, president of the Champion Card and Paper Co. of Pepperell, Mass. Thomson acquired perpetual rights to the patents by granting Gage half interest in a mill he proposed to operate in Hamilton Ohio.

Thomson incorporated The Champion Coated Paper Co. in 1893 with $100,000 of capital stock. He opened a plant in Hamilton Ohio, 20 miles north of Cincinnati on the Great Miami River. There were also other paper mills lining the east shore of the river. In those days, the Miami Valley was the third largest paper manufacturing region in the nation. The river supplied hydraulic power and the Miami-Erie Canal provided shipping routes to major markets.

Peter G. Thomson -- in addition to gaining patent rights and financial backing from the Champion Card and Paper Company in Massachusetts -- also asked the company's president to send some experienced workers to help start the Hamilton coating mill.

A seven-man crew, reporting to Frank Williams as mill superintendent, began production the morning of April 15, 1894 at the plant on Seven Mile Pike (now North B Street). Workers in the gas-lit plant were paid $1 for a 10-hour day. Within three weeks, there were 25 employees.

The first paper to be coated -- a 25-inch, 300-pound roll -- had been made in the Fordham Mill, opposite Champion on the east side of the Great Miami River. The first order -- for the Chatfield and Wood Company in Cincinnati -- was shipped May 4,1894.

Thomson's announcement to prospective customers stated that his Hamilton firm was "the western branch of the Champion Card and Paper Company of East Pepperell, Mass., and is intended to supply the trade with coated papers."

Thomson said "the specialty of this mill (Hamilton) will be enameled paper, the consumption of which is increasing constantly, printers having found that no other paper will give such excellent results."

Hamilton was chosen as the site of the western mill, Thomson explained, because of "the purity of its water, its proximity to numerous paper mills in the Miami Valley, its central location and nearness to the principal dealers, and the excellence of its shipping facilities."

"Its territory," he said, "covers all the west and south, west of Buffalo and Pittsburgh (including the latter), and hereafter orders for enameled book, lithograph and label papers will be supplied from this mill, while the mill at East Pepperell, Mass., will confine its trade in these goods to the eastern market."