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Hot off the Presses: American Pattern Glass!

By Suzanne Skwarski

Prior to the mid 1700's, England was the the premier glass manufacturer of the world. However, as the United States grew and immigrants brought their trades to the various regions, the United States surpassed its former colonial master in the manufacturing of fine pressed glass. Artisans began domestic production of high quality glassware that grew into a thriving and prosperous industry.

Molds were designed with unique patterns that were copied across the various glass industrial regions in New England, primarily, in the Boston and Sandwich Glass Companies. These pockets of industry used a technique of mixing lead with molten glass that gave a grey hue to the solid, user-friendly, glass products that were quickly adopted and highly valued by East Coast residents. This "flint" glass adorned many affluent Post Colonial homes featuring salts, spooners, sugar servers, creamers, whiskey mugs, and goblets. As the resources of wood burning fuel gave way to the more economical natural gas fired furnaces, the glass production trade moved west to Pittsburgh and The Ohio River Valley, where natural gas was both prolific and cheaper than wood.

The industry continued to grow and offered jobs to many men and young boys, as a single piece would take at least six workers to complete. Glass blowers emigrated from Europe to work in the mills along the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny Rivers, while furnace and steel workers built the factories that produced the tons of household glass products. Molds were copied and patterns were renamed as glass manufacturers produced at least 2300 different patterns from 1800-1880.

The Early American Pattern Glass era ended as consumer tastes changed and glass production became more efficient. Corning, Libby, and Fenton glass factories remain today still producing high quality glass with replicated patterns of the 18th and 19th century molds. Many collectors search for these treasures, however, unfortunately, many forgeries exist and represent reproductions as authentic Early American Glass. Therefore, the buyer should research extensively before any large purchase is made. (References available upon request.)

Early America Pattern Glass from the collection of Norma Carnahan, Dibbleville Questers #617

Early American Pattern Glass