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Bakewell, Pears Glass Company
In 1808, two hundred years after the first glass house was built at Jamestown, Bakewell and Company,later Bakewell Pears and Company, was established in Pittsburgh. For more than seventy years this company continued in operation and made some of the best American tableware.
Among the first products was cut and engraved table glass which was recognized here and abroad as the equal of imported ware. Bakewell's procured the finest materials and hired skilled English and Irish cutters. When General Lafayette toured the United States in 1825, he visited the factory and was presented with some of its glass which he said was equal to the French. Other early travelers to the Midwest considered the Bakewell factory one of the sights, and often wrote about its "elegant" glass. Deming Jarves, who founded the Boston and Sandwich Glass factory, visited the Pittsburgh glasshouses in 1824 and "paid special attention" to this company. Services were made there for President James Monroe and President Andrew Jackson. Most of the products were sold in the district, which was rapidly increasing in population, or shipped down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. From New Orleans huge quantities of glass went on to the West Indies, South America, and all over the world.
Besides cut and engraved glass, Bakewell's output consisted of free-blown and molded ware in both clear and colored. Sometime during its existence the factory tried practically every kind of decoration. As early as 1825, Bakewell recognized the advantage of mechanical pressing and applied for a patent to improve the making of glass knobs. As pressed ware became popular and profitable, Bakewell's made it on a large scale, always following trends in patterns from lacy and simple designs to fancy Victorian ware. Bottles, flasks, and window glass were also manufactured. Indeed, this company was one of the most diversified manufacturers of glass in the early nineteenth century.