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Deming Jarves, Manufacture Of Pressed Glass
During the War of 1812 to 1814, Anglo-Irish glasshouses stored up a quantity of glass which was dumped on the American market in the years immediately following the peace treaty. This supplied the immediate demands. By 1820, however, industries of the new republic had partially recovered and measures were taken to encourage manufacturers. Legislators were urged to protect the young industries by passing high tariffs. The Franklin Institute was formed in Philadelphia to encourage American production. Emigration went westward and industries expanded in that direction. Glass manufacturers sought cheaper processes to satisfy the ever increasing American demand. Blown Three-mold glass was probably the first successful line of American glassware to reach extensive production. It was less expensive than imported cut ware, but still not cheap enough.Pressed glass was the answer.
In the early nineteenth century both in American and foreign glasshouses a hand press was in use. Pressed feet were attached to such blown articles as bowls and candlesticks. A few small items, such as salts and stoppers, were completely pressed. Deming Jarves himself mentions the importation of salts pressed in "metallic molds." Although a hand press was used in Europe, records point to this country as the place where it was mechanized.
Whether an American glassworker, moldmaker, carpenter, or the glasshouse owner himself, whether the inventor was alone or had a partner, just who was the first to mechanically press glass we do not know. As so often happens, experiments with the pressing machine may have been simultaneously successful in several factories. Certainly from 1825 on there was a plethora of patents for the pressing of glass, most of them stating the claim as an "improvement."
Regardless of the inventor, it was Jarves who first saw the possibilities of the glass press. By the time he had obtained his first patent in December, 1828, for an improved glass press, there were a number of companies using the new method. By 1830 so many improvements had been made that mass production of pressed glass was well underway. Pressed glass is characterized by a smooth surface (made by the plunger) opposite the patterned surface (made by the mold).
Deming Jarves was responsible for a great deal of beautiful glass prized by modern collectors. In 1825 he founded the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company on Cape Cod. Although blown and cut ware was made there from the beginning, the idea of pressing articles larger than salts was in Jarves's mind. Other glasshouse owners were also thinking about pressed glass, for patents were taken out in successive years by Bakewell's of Pittsburgh, the New England Glass Company at Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company. Jarves patented many improvements and his factory produced greater and greater quantities of it, eventuallv including sets of stemware and tableware, as well as candlesticks, vases, lamps, bowls, and souvenirs, in clear and colored glass.