Cottons for Spring 1952 from South Carolina Mills

I was interested in this little catalog because I’d never heard of the company, South Carolina Mills, located in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Spartanburg is a quick trip down the mountain, in the SC Upstate, or piedmont.  It was at the beginning of cotton country, and a lot of cotton is still grown in the region today.

Unfortunately the generic name of the company brought up every mill that ever existed in South Carolina in a google search.  But after a careful consideration of the contents of the catalog, I’ve pretty much decided that there was not a “South Carolina Mill,”  but that the company was a sales outlet for many of the region’s textile and garment factories.

In the catalog there is a wide variety of cotton-based products – clothing for the entire family, towels, carpets, blankets, curtains, and fabrics.   All of these are products that were made throughout the Carolinas.

One of the few brand names mentioned in the catalog was Startex.  Startex was located just west of Spartanburg, and made printed cotton towels and tablecloths.   Today the factory is gone, but there is still a village remaining by the name of Startex.

The catalog does not give us the brand name, but these sure look like Beacon blankets to me.  It could be that because that mill is in North Carolina, they did not want to mention it.  Or it could be that they were made by another company.  There were lots of small blanket makers in the area.

There were several pages of fabrics for the home sewer.  A few of them are labeled as being from Springs, which was a large mill in Lancaster, South Carolina.  They are the makers of Springmaid.

The catalog clearly shows the diversity of products that were being produced from cotton.  And here is a look at some of the clothing:

Probably my favorite page from the catalog was this one showing clothes for boys.  Is that argyle shirt nifty or what?

I did a Google maps search for the address given in the catalog of where to send the order.  Today it is an empty lot.


Filed under Collecting, Textiles

17 responses to “Cottons for Spring 1952 from South Carolina Mills

  1. So sad to hear that it is just an empty lot today. Although, we can’t expect anything different.


  2. I love vintage clothing catalogues. I have a couple from department stores in Australia that I should share. The things you could buy via mail order were amazing!

    And the skirt on the front of this catalgue is AMAZING!


  3. I’m with you on the Argyle shirts…..remember the Norwegian Mens’ Curling Team pants at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010?….we thought they were ‘new’.


    • Lynne, you constantly amaze me! Thanks so much. So I was right; it is a catalog company that sold only cotton products. It opened in 1946, and was located on Crescent Avenue in a two-story building. And as I noted in the post, that address is now vacant.


  4. Hey there, How ironic I was ‘working’ in Lancaster, SC today! Over my time visiting there I have met many people who have worked or had a relative work at this mill! At one time, there were at least 5 other mills in the city! If, I am not mistaken, only one remains functional today! The loss of the textile industry has taken a toll on the area! But, I think it is a diamond in the rough! A sleepy little gem right outside of Charoltte, NC! I will be back there in a few weeks, I will try to send you a few pictures!

    Love your blog!



    • Hi April, That is ironic. And yes I’d love photos. I know Springmaid is still open as a business, but I do not know if they still produce anything here is the US. At one time it was one of the biggest mills in the South. They even built a railroad to connect the two mills.


  5. What a treasure! I love collections of fabric designs.


  6. Thank you for sharing this gem. How fun to see the linen and clothing designs and especially the fabric swatches.


  7. I love this. Since it’s a fabric catalog and shows all the different color/print possibilities, it’s even more exciting than a regular fashion catalog.


  8. I love looking at old catalogues, I especially love looking at all the different prints. It’s do sad thinking that all the mills are no longer there. It’s the same here in the UK where the whole textile industry vanished completely.


  9. What a trip down memory lane. I agree – that argyle shirt makes quite a statement.


  10. Sam

    I recently purchased a random square of nearly perfect condition fabric at my local vintage shop and noticed to my delight there was still a tag on it — Startex WonderDri Kitchen Towels. When I buy vintage items I like to learn the history of the companies and such. This has been a super helpful post on my search! It was nearly impossible to find literally ANYTHING on Startex thanks to the number of websites selling towels, the energy company in Texas, etc etc. I’m so glad they had at least SOME catalog activity. I’ve spent several hours looking for info, so this gives me hope! There is an effort now in that village to renew the area and get it marked as a historical place, etc. If anyone is interested in the efforts, the Startex-Tucapau Preservation Foundation has more information on their website!


  11. Steve Graham

    Was I remodeling my garage (in Washington state) I found a postcard one would mail for a free catalog for South Carolina Mills at Crescent Ave. The post card calls for a 1 cent stamp, so I guess that means it was before 1952. The card said “Do a Friend a Favor… Just give her this Card to she can send for a Free Catalogue”. So I googled the name and found your site. Interesting read. I was going to put a stamp on it and mail it, but there is no zip code and the place is gone, as you point out. Have good day.


  12. Hello Everyone !!! Donald here with Startex-Tucapau Preservation Foundation We are in the process in revitalizing this once thriving cotton mill community in Upstate South Carolina. This cotton mill produced the famous ” Startex” Towels and Tablecloths. Tucapau was the original name of the mill and village. It’s Indian for ” Strong Cloth” We do have a Facebook page: Startex Tucapau Mill. If anyone has specific questions about the mill, the village or the history of the area, please feel free to contact me directly. Many Thanks, Donald Jones 205-807-3548

    Liked by 1 person

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