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American Cut GlassAuthor: Albert Christian Revi
( Article orginally published December 1963 )
WILLIAM Henry Gibbs and Michael J. Kelly opened a glass cutting shop in the W. W. Weston Building on Race Street in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, in July 1895. Two months later, Frank Steinman joined the firm and it was known as Gibbs, Kelly & Company.
Messrs. Gibbs, Kelley, and Steinman were very fine craftsmen, well trained in the art of cutting glass in the intricate patterns so popular between 1880 and 1905. They were also ambitious, and it wasn't long before their factory grew to such proportions that they occupied the entire W. W. Weston Building. They then employed about 30 hands and had established sales offices in New York City at 35 Warren Street. Since all the members of the firm were practical glass cutters and they knew just how to produce the most brilliant designs in rich cut glass, their products were second to none in the trade at that time.
At a later date when Kelly and Steinman moved out of Honesdale and established their own cutting shop-the Peerless Cut Glass Company, in Deposit, New York - Mr. Gibbs continued the firm under the name William H. Gibbs & Company, with the financial assistance of another partner, William G. Sell. At this period, the company occupied smaller quarters in another section of Honesdale. Mr. Gibbs moved again in 1909, opening a shop in Hawley, Pennsylvania, a few miles north of Honesdale. Just a few years before the company was dissolved, he again moved the shop, this time to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Apparently Mr. Gibbs built another factory in Barryville, New York, about 1910, but it was sold to Krantz & Sell Company in 1912.
William Henry Gibbs was born in Indian Orchard, Wayne County, Pennsylvania. At an early age he was apprenticed to a glass cutter at the Dorflinger Works in White Mills, Pennsylvania, in April 1882. He followed his trade throughout his lifetime, working in New York City, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Wheeling, West Virginia, Corning, New York, and Toledo, Ohio. He was the general superintendent of the Gibbs, Kelly & Company factory.
Michael J. Kelly was born in Ireland and came to the United States in 1881, landing just about the time President Garfield was assassinated. He learned the glass cutting trade in Meriden, Connecticut, and afterwards was employed at Monaca, Pennsylvania (possibly working for the Phoenix Glass Company), New Bedford, Massachusetts (at either the Mt. Washington Glass Works, Smith Brothers, or the Blackmer Cut Glass Company), and Toledo, Ohio (possibly at Libbey's). For many years he was a foreman at the old Bergen & Niland cut glass factory in Meriden, Connecticut. During his association with Gibbs, Kelly & Company, he held the position of general salesman.
Frank Steinman was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received his early training in glass cutting at one of the several small cutting shops in that area. He was a foreman for Whitall, Tatum & Company in Millville, New Jersey, and was employed as a glass cutter in factories in Monaca, Pennsylvania (possibly at the Phoenix Glass Company), and Toledo, Ohio, (where he may have worked for Libbey), before coming to Honesdale. Mr. Steinman was bookkeeper for Gibbs, Kelly & Company.
On November 7, 1899, a design patent for a beautiful cut glass bowl was registered by William Henry Gibbs of Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The pattern consists of three large brilliantly cut rosettes with panels of bright cut buttons arranged four in a panel between the rosettes. The bottom of the bowl is decorated with another large and brilliantly cut rosette. (See illustration.) There is nothing very distinctive about Mr. Gibb's design for it combines two very popular motifs in cut glass of the Brilliant Period. The bright cut and diamond-faceted buttons are clearly associated with the popular Harvard pattern. A very similar design can be seen in pieces signed by the Taylor Brothers cut glass shop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
A bowl in the collection of Mr. Charles P. Huber was purchased from William H. Gibbs & Company in Honesdale, many years ago. It appears to be a variant of the White Rose pattern patented for The Irving Cut Glass Company of the same place. In this instance the petals of the rose and the leaves have been left unpolished, giving them a mat-like finish, while the center of the blossom is represented by coarse brilliant cutting, not quite so finely executed as the centers of the Irving Cut Glass Company's White Rose.
The cruet bottle illustrated, from the collection of the Wayne County Historical Society, also combines patterns common to most American cut glass skops of the period. The handsome two-part punch bowl, from the collection of Mrs. J. H. Tumlinson, was originally in the collection of Mrs. Charles E. Gibbs. It, too, combines two popular cut glass pat terns of the late period in an elegant design.