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Glass (UVWXYZ) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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UNION GLASS COMPANY: A company organized in 1854 by members of the Houghton family, at Somerville, Massachusetts. This company made only flint glass and their pressed tableware patterns corresponded closely with those of other factories. They also produced silvered glass for reflectors, knobs and other purposes. Later, cut-glass and ornamental vases and an iridescent glass after the style of Tiffany glass (q.v.) were also made. Competition with Western factories producing glassware under more favorable conditions compelled the factory to close in 1924.

VAUXHALL GLASS: This glass was made at the factory of Dawson, Bowles & Co., located near the famous Vauxhall gardens in London, late in the 17th century. Glass-makers from Venice were brought to supervise the work. The production was a glass with a bluish tinge used chiefly for mirrors. The reflecting quality was obtained by attaching thin sheets of tin foil coated with mercury to one side of the glass. Many of these mirrors were used as wall panels, and they are still to be seen in some of the old palaces. Beveling of the edge was about one inch wide and hand ground.

VENETIAN GLASS: Glass-making at Venice received its impulse from Constantinople where glass-making flourished throughout the Dark Ages. The earliest known date for glass-making at Venice is 1083. The glass-makers were incorporated in 1268 and at the close of the century they were segregated on the island of Murano, near the city. The history of modern glass begins with the Venetian crystal glass of the 16th century, the first since the time of the Romans. They also produced at about the same time milk-white glass in imitation of the porcelain of the Orient and crackled glass. Rigid laws were passed to prevent workmen from going to other countries but the rewards for breaking them were very tempting, and apparently flight was not uncommon.

Venetian glass enjoyed for a long time the monopoly of commerce and it became the marvel of the civilized world. The making of mirrors started in the 13th century and during the 16th century the metal of their glass was improved, it was made thinner, and different colors were employed. In the 18th century they engraved and cut glass with the wheel. Although during the 17th century the trade was still very large, by the end of the century the fortunes of Venice began to wane. By that time every country in Europe was making its own glass to a great extent and the competition of Bohemian glass (q.v.) was particularly strong. Old Venetian glass represents the most wonderful achievement of the glass-blowers' art. Its characteristics are its extremely light weight, its fragility, a slight cloudiness in hue, and in the design a sense of perfect poise and balance. During the 19th century the industry has been revived and it is now again one of the foremost artistic crafts in the world.



WATERFORD (Ireland) GLASS: The making of glass at Waterford, Ireland, was begun in 1729 and continued for eleven years. From 1740 to 1783 no glass was made there, but from that time until 1851, when the works were closed, the output was very large. The early glass was common green glass with only a very small quantity of flint glass. The later Waterford glass is described by some writers as having a bluish tinge in its body, although Mr. Westropp, an authority on Irish glass, disputes this claim, and its style is sim' ilar to English glass of the Georgian period. Cut glass became the chief part of the Waterford product, although glass was made for every use to which glass was adapted. As early as 1786 Waterford was sending large quantities of glass to American ports, which business continued increasing until about 1822, after which the trade dwindled. Besides Waterford, there were flourishing glassworks at Belfast, Cork and Dublin. See IRISH GLASS.

WATERFORD (New Jersey) GLASS WORKS: The manufacture of window glass was carried on here as early as 1825-30. At a later period glass bottles and flasks were made. Their quart flasks are among the rarest of American flasks. Different proprittors carried on the works until about 1880. One of the early owners, Joseph Porter, introduced many innovations into the glass industry; among them certain alterations permitted Sunday shut-down, where previously all glass plants operated on Sundays. This change spread rapidly to other plants until Sunday shut-down became general. Porter also increased the wages of his employes, enabling them to enjoy a better mode of living. This, too, spread and before long other employers were obliged to adopt the new scale of wages.

WELLSBURG (West Virginia) GLASS HOUSES: Isaac Duval & Co. operated a glassworks here from 1813 to 1828, when Duval died. An excellent grade of flint glass was blown. Cobalt blue and amber were the usual colors. Others became interested in glass-making at this place and the industry was active for a number of years.

WESTFORD (Connecticut) GLASS WORKS: From 1857 to 1873 glass-works here produced flasks in three sizes in various shades of amber.

WESTMORELAND GLASS CO.: At Grapeville, Pennsylvania-a factory still producing glass, some of which is from the original molds of the Sandwich Glass Co.

WHEELING (West Virginia) GLASS WORKS: Various glass-works were established in this region from 1810 onward, which resulted in its becoming the world's greatest bottle-producing section up to 1860. In 1864 a Wheeling concern brought about a great change in the manufacture of glass by making a clear, brilliant glass with the aid of bicarbonate of soda and lime, at about one-third the cost of lead or flint glass. This discovery was made by a chemist formerly employed at the New England Glass Co. at Cambridge, but then at work for Hobbs, Brockunier & Co.


WHITE GLASS WORKS: This factory was started in 1815 at Zanesville, Ohio, by Isaac Van Horn, and continued under various managers until 1851. They made bottles, flasks and domestic hollow ware, turning out much of the fine early glass which is to be found in Ohio. Of their production, the best known are the Masonic and reverse Eagle flasks, and their bulbous bottles in various colors.


WILLINGTON (Connecticut) GLASS WORKS: In operation at West Willington from 1815 until 1872. Hollow ware such as bottles and jars was produced of amber and green. The product is of little interest.

WISTARBERG GLASS: Caspar Wistar started making glass in Salem County, New Jersey, in 1739. He brought from Holland four skilled glass-makers and the earliest production was undoubtedly Dutch in design. Bottles, bowls, pitchers and drinking glasses were made, although window glass and bottles were the chief products. The other articles were more in the nature of by-products made by individual workmen for their own use or for gifts to others. The factory was in successful operation until about 1780, being carried on after the death of Caspar Wistar in 1752 by his son Richard. Wistar is credited with having made the first flint glass in this country. Although plain colors were preferred, he made two and three-color pieces by fusing. The usual colors were turquoise, amber, greens, browns and blue. Characteristic marks of Wistar glass are the thin threads of glass wound spirally near the top and the wave design of decoration.

One of the best authorities on early American glass (McKearin) doubts that there are in existence half a dozen pieces of glass which can be authenticated as the product of the factory of Caspar Wistar and his son Richard. With the possible exception of Stiegel, not any word in the realm of American glass has been so loosely used as Wistarberg. Examples of Wistarberg glass are to be seen in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and in the Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, and some other Museums.

ZANESVILLE GLASS: In 1815 the White Glass Works (q.v.) started a factory here, and in 1816 the New Granite Glass Works began producing bottles, flasks and hollow ware, continuing operations until 1848.