Tag: Sponge Fishing History

Tarpon Springs History

The City of Tarpon Springs is located at the mouth of the Anclote River on the Gulf of Mexico in central Florida. Probably inspired by the tarpon that inhabit the nearby waters, the name Tarpon Springs was given to the settlement that appeared there sometime in the 1860s or 1870s. The Orange Belt Railway, which served as the major transportation route, arrived in Tarpon Springs in 1887, making it a hub of import and export of both people and cargo. And the same year Tarpon Springs became the first city to be incorporated on the Pinellas peninsula. The construction of Anclote Key lighthouse made transportation to and from Tarpon Springs by sea safer. These improvements in transportation made Tarpon Springs a popular winter resort for wealthy northerners in the late 18th and early 19th century.

The Sponge Diving Industry in Tarpon Springs

Key West fishermen, in search of turtles, accidently discovered the sponge beds off the mouth of the Anclote River in 1873 when their nets became snagged on them. Spongers from Key West relocated to Tarpon Springs to work the newly discovered beds and some of them stayed, helping grow the community. To process and pack the sponges, sponge-packing houses were built in Tarpon Springs during the 1890s and sponge presses were installed, prompting sponge buyers moved to town. The center of the sponge industry gradually shifted its center from Key West, Cuba and the Bahamas to Tarpon Springs and by 1900 the Tarpon Springs was considered the largest sponge port in the country.

The Greek Community in Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs History - Greek Sponge Divers early 1900's
Tarpon Springs History – Greek Sponge Divers early 1900’s

The first mechanized sponge boat was brought to Tarpon Springs in 1905 along with five hundred Greek sponge divers from all over the Greek islands. And over the next few years more immigrants followed and new businesses were established to serve the growing Greek community. Sponge divers, boat-builders, merchants and brokers all came to Tarpon Springs to live and work, creating a highly-integrated industry.

In 1906 the Sponge Exchange Bank was established to support industry activities. And two years later, in 1908, the Sponge Exchange was founded. The Sponge Exchange was an organized system established for grading and selling the sponges. The original Sponge Exchange consisted of storage bins surrounding a central auction block in the center.

Acme Sponge Company in Tarpon Springs

In 1938 by Michael G. Cantonis founded the Acme Sponge and Chamois Company. At age 21, after borrowing $1000 from a friend, he went to New York and began importing and selling natural sponges from the Mediterranean. To be closer to its primary customer base, the company was moved to Chicago in 1947. And in the 1950s, imported natural chamois and synthetic sponges were added to the product line. In 1959 the company began planning a tannery to tan chamois leather, which was finally opened in 1962. And in 1977, Acme’s facilities were consolidated and relocated to Tarpon Springs, Florida, where they remain today.

See All Sea Sponge Products

Acme Sponge Company History

The Acme Sponge Company offers a variety of natural sea sponge, synthetic sponges and related products.  It is headquartered in Tarpon Springs, Florida, which is arguably the sponge diving center of the United States. We pride ourselves on the quality of the materials we use and the products we offer; “the finest products from the finest materials in the world.”

Acme Sponge Company

Acme Sponge company traces its roots back four generations to sea sponge merchants and divers in Greece. But Acme is not just a sponge company anymore.  Over the past 70+ years it has grown into a diverse multi-national company with its headquarters in Florida. Acme now offers a wide variety of different types of products including, natural sponges, synthetic sponges, natural loofahs products, bath and body brushes, and assorted cleaning products and accessories.

Acme Sponge Company Founder

Acme Sponge and Chamois Founder Michael Cantonis
Michael Cantonis

ACME Sponge Company was founded in 1938 by Michael G. Cantonis. Borrowing $1000 from a friend, he went to New York at age 21 and began importing natural sponges from the Mediterranean.  The company was moved to Chicago in 1947 to be closer to its customer base. In the 1950s imported natural chamois were added to the product mix of natural sponges and synthetic sponges. In 1959 the company began planning a tannery to tan chamois leather and this tannery was finally opened in 1962. And in 1977 all or Acme’s facilities were consolidated and moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida.

 

Acme Sponge and Chamois Worldwide Operations

Acme established a New Zealand facility in 1994 specifically to facilitate the procurement of premium New Zealand sheep pelts. New Zealand supplies the highest quality sheepskins available for chamois manufacture, and being the only producer with a facility in the islands is a big advantage. Acme constantly monitors the raw material market to insure uninterrupted flow of the highest quality materials.

In 2005 Acme consolidated its tanning operations in Izmir, Turkey to further improve efficiencies, while continuing to maintain its offices in New Zealand to insure the steady flow of the highest quality raw material.  In January 2012 Acme moved its headquarters facility to the new Tarpon Springs campus.

Over a 79 year history, Acme Sponge and Chamois evolved to become the largest distributor of both natural chamois leather and natural sponges in the United States, and largest chamois tanner in the world.

The Acme Sponge Company

In 2017, Acme Sponge and Chamois returned to its roots with the sale of the Chamois line to Hopkins Manufacturing. The company also returned to its original name, the Acme Sponge Company.  The Acme Chamois Company remains headquartered in Tarpon Springs, Fl. and the largest distributor of natural sea sponges in the world.

About Acme Sponge

Acme Sponge offers a variety of natural sea sponge and cleaning related products.  It is headquartered in Tarpon Springs, Florida, which is arguably the sponge diving center of the United States. We pride ourselves on the quality of the materials we use and the products we offer; “the finest products from the finest materials in the world.”

What Sets Acme Sponge Products Apart

Sponge Diver Mosaic Tarpon Springs Acme Sponge and Chamois
Sponge Diver Mosaic in Tarpon Springs
Acme Sponge Company

Acme Sponge traces its roots back four generations to sea sponge merchants and divers in Greece. But Acme is not just a sponge company anymore.  Over the past 70+ years it has grown into a diverse multi-national company with its headquarters in Florida. Acme now offers a wide variety of different types of products including, natural sponges, synthetic sponges, natural loofahs and loofah products, bath and body brushes, and assorted cleaning products and accessories.

Acme Sponge is the industry leader in natural sponges, and has built a reputation for durable high quality products. As a company, Acme is dedicated to supplying value to our customers not only through our pricing and consistently maintaining the highest quality, but also by offering a wide selection and great customer service.

Acme Sponge Company History

ACME Sponge Company was founded in 1938 by Michael G. Cantonis. Borrowing $1000 from a friend, he went to New York at age 21 and began importing natural sponges from the Mediterranean.  The company was moved to Chicago in 1947 to be closer to its customer base. And in the 1950’s, imported natural chamois were added to the product mix of natural sponges and synthetic sponges. In 1959 the company began planning a tannery to tan chamois leather, which was finally opened in 1962. Then in 1977 all of Acme’s facilities were consolidated and moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida.  Over our 79 year history, Acme has evolved to become the largest distributor of  natural sponges in the United States.