Queen Cutlery Payroll Records from 1947-1948
Dan Lago, David Krauss, and Fred R. Sampson, DRAFT 6-30-2020
In sad fashion, the bankruptcy of Queen Cutlery at the very beginning of 2018, has provided a window from which we can look into the early post-World War II history of the company. A detailed record of individual pay has been recovered.
1947 -1948 payroll record for Queen Cutlery Company
Although the company records do include Social Security numbers, we have honored them as confidential information and have removed them from all the images that follow. However using those Social Security numbers in a recent search of the Social Security death index (SSDI) shows that an unusually large number of employees (38 persons) are not reported to have died, even though they generally would be well over age 90 – assuming age 18 or older when starting work over 70 years past. (Probably some local person responsible for entering those who had passed into the Social Security Death Index -SSDI, was not too diligent.) Other records and recollections show almost all of these workers are no longer living and we will use their names and earnings (by group) in 1948 as one of the very few records remaining of the company’s history. This story is one of praise for workers who contributed to the success of this Pennsylvania company and do deserve this small footnote. In the rare cases where the news might be seen as negative, we will preserve anonymity as well as personal detailed financial information from 72 years ago.
For incomes noted below, the U.S Census report of 1950 reports that in 1948, the average income of families was $2,950, nationwide (U.S. Census, 1948). The minimum wage was $.40 an hour. The average home value had increased from $$3,205 to almost $6,800. (There was a significant housing shortage after WWII.) For consumers, a gallon of gas was $.16, a loaf of bread was $.14. Compared to the present time, $100 in 1948, was worth $1,152 dollars in 2019.
- C. Erickson served as the President of Queen Cutlery at that time, along with Frank Foresther (Vice President) and Harry Mathews (Treasurer). All three me were paid similarly, so we will look only at the record of Erickson, as President, but all three officers were instrumental in the company’s success. – Erickson helped develop “Queen Stainless Steel” with the local Cyclops steel firm, and produced patterns for highly successful knives such as the “Big Chief” and the Automatic “Jet” knife.