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Indiana Glass


The Early Years 1895 – 1922

1895, the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. built a large building in Dunkirk, Indiana. It was named the Dunkirk Locomotive and Car Repair Works and the intended use was to build and repair railroad cars. This idea was soon abandoned and George Brady and James Beatty purchased the building and property in 1896. Together they formed the Beatty – Brady Glass Company. They produced glass lamps, glass chimney tops, vases and some household glass.

In the early 1900’s, the Beatty – Brady Glass Co. merged into the National Glass Combine. National Glass was a large combine consisting of nineteen different glass companies. Competition was keen in the glass making business. These companies pooled their resources and their moulds in an effort to survive. The Beatty – Brady name was changed to the Indiana Glass Company. An Indiana inspection book, dated 1904, lists inspections as having been done at the “Indiana Glass Co., pressed and blown glass. ”The Beatty – Brady company name is not listed.

In 1907 the National Glass Combine failed due to the depressed economy and several bank failures and was placed in receivership. The Indiana Glass Company was sold to a group consisting of Frank Merry, (President), Harry Batsch, Harold Phillips (Sec. – Treas.), Charles Smalley, Rathburn Fuller and James Merry Overleaf. A document dated Oct 11, 1907 stated, “Indiana Glass Co., manufacturers of Pressed and Blown Glassware, Frank W. Merry, Pres; H. H. Phillips, Sec- Treas.” Frank Merry remained President of the Indiana Glass Company until 1931. The founding date of 1907 occurred when the plant was purchased and the company incorporated. The early company letterhead stated, “Est. 1907″.

The Indiana Glass Company made pressed and blown glassware. They made lamps and press molded decorative plates and bowls. Indiana Glass is believed to be the longest producer of “Goofus Glass”. Goofus Glass was a very inexpensive way to make colored, decorative glass. Pressed, patterned glass items were “cold painted” (not fired) and the paint was not permanent. If used or washed, the paint soon flaked off. A bowl or plate was painted gold on the exterior and the pattern on the interior was filled in with paint. Red and gold seemed to be the standard colors and sometimes green.

It is believed that Northwood applied for a patent on Goofus Glass in 1903. Northwood and Dugan produced Goofus from about1905 until 1908. Westmoreland also made Goofus, mainly painted milk glass items and Imperial made a few rose patterns. When Fenton introduced carnival glass in 1907, Northwood, Dugan and Imperial soon followed Fenton’s lead. While the other major glassmakers were producing carnival glass, Indiana Glass continued to produce Goofus. Their Goofus glass production continued well into the 1920’s.

The main buyers for Goofus Glass were businesses, not household consumers. Businesses bought the stuff by the barrels full. Buy a house, get a set of dishes, go to the movies, get a bowl, buy new furniture, get a plate, start a new account at the bank and get a vase! The general public may have thought it was goofy glass but businesses loved it and continued to give it away for many years. Goofus Glass was America’s “First Carnival Glass”. It was given away at carnivals as prizes long before the pretty iridescent glass we know today as carnival glass. Carnivals were major buyers of Goofus glass.

The “bar goods” included beer mugs, shot glasses and carnival glass ashtrays. There was still a considerable surplus of carnival glass ashtrays stockpiled in the 60’s and 70’s. Some of these were bolted together and made into clocks. They bolted together carnival ashtrays were the housing for the clock mechanism. The novelty items included such things as small glass telephones, trains, rocking chairs and other small furniture items. These were intended as play items for children and girls often used the small furniture items to decorate their dollhouses. The novelty items were often advertised to shop owners and businesses as souvenir items. Many of these items were offered with an optional marigold carnival glass finish. The ads below are from a 1914 Butler Brother Wholesale Catalog.

Indiana Glass made beautiful water sets, tumblers and berry sets. These were pressed, geometric pattern glass much like Imperial’s designs. They were made of crystal and decorated with gold trim and the pattern was accented with a red stain or flashing. Below are two of the early Indiana decorated patterns. These patterns are seldom seen today. There is a carnival glass tumbler listed in the carnival glass books that greatly resembles the Indiana Ferris Wheel pattern. The tumbler is called Lucile and it is thought to have an Argentina maker. It has been suggested by the Thistle woods that perhaps Indiana Glass sold the mold to the Argentina maker. The tumblers look like the same pattern but they came from two totally different molds. The Argentina maker did not buy the Indiana mold they stole the pattern.

The Flower Medallion pattern was reproduced by Indiana Glass and offered thru the Tiara Line. The pitcher, goblets, small compote or wine and a swan were reissued in lime green carnival glass, no other colors. The reproductions were offered in very limited quantities. The Tiara Line was sold thru home parties. The Flower Medallion items were “Preferred Hostess” items, gifts that could be earned for exceptional sales. The Flower Medallion reissues are almost as rare as the early Flower Medallion items.

In 1919, Indiana Glass added more vases to their line. Their Goofus vases are highly collectible now and much loved among Goofus Glass collectors. Their “Fancy Decorated Lamps” are also highly prized among glass collectors. Indiana Glass did not make it easy for anyone to trace their past. Another pattern that is believed to be made by the Indiana Glass Company is the Bird and Grape Pattern. This pattern was made in Goofus vases; Goofus wall pockets and carnival glass wall pockets as well. Indiana Glass also added soda fountain supplies to their line of glassware. Their soda fountain line included the now famous and very familiar A&W Root Beer Mugs. The first A&W Mug was Indiana Glass, #1504, and a 10-ounce mug. In 1921 the Baby A&W Root Beer Mug was added. It was Indiana, #1505, and a 3 1/2 ounce mug. Indiana Glass continued to make the A&W Root Beer Mugs until about 1980.

The Middle Years 1923 – 1950

In 1923 Indiana Glass introduced a pattern of glassware called Avocado. This is important because Avocado is considered to be the very first Depression Glass Pattern. It is an Art Nouveau pattern that was made for 11 years in four colors: green, pink, crystal and white milk glass. It is a luncheon and serving set comprised of 16 pieces. In 1925 and 1926, Indiana Glass introduced three more Depression Glass patterns. The Indiana Sandwich pattern was made in five colors. The pattern number #610, Pyramid, as made in four colors and the Tea Room pattern was made in five different colors. The Sandwich pattern is more of a classic design but it was extremely popular. The other two are dramatic Art Deco designs.

In 1929, the Indiana Glass Company introduced the Lorain #615 pattern to their glassware line. This pattern is important because it is the first mold-etched design. The Lorain pattern is a beautiful blend of Floral and Art Deco. This pattern was produced in three colors, crystal, yellow and green and it was only produced for four years.

In the 1930’s, Indiana starting making those Hens or Hon on a Nest. They continued to make those for 70 plus years. Indiana Glass only made one style hen but it can be found with or without beading. The older hens have no beading around the top edge of the nest. According to Indiana Hon collectors, these can be found in 80 different colors.

During the World War II era Indiana Glass may have made headlights, lens and other industrial glass items. These items were needed in abundance during World War II. I have been told that many of the glass making companies stopped making wares and switched to making industrial glass items that were needed for the war. During peace times the big warehouse doors would be open day and night and all were welcome to stand outside and view the operations inside. During war times, the big doors were closed and the workers were sworn to secrecy. The Oleander Pattern was made for Montgomery Wards in the 1940’s. The line was sometimes called Willow and Magnolia. Some collectors call it WOM, a combination of all three names. The Constellation Pattern was reissued in the Tiara line.

Post World War II 1950 – 1970

During the 1950’s, milk glass seemed to be the craze so they brought out their old custard glass molds and reproduced them in white milk glass and renamed the pattern Orange Blossom. They also produced a very pretty glassware pattern called Christmas Candy. Indiana Glass continued to make restaurant ware, soda fountain and bar supplies and they added heat resistant glass to their line (oven proof cookware). But times were getting tough and the Indiana Glass Co. was floundering. They had no major contracts and none on the horizon. There were rumors and notes testifying to financial difficulties. There were furnace reductions and officer layoffs. The future did not look bright for Indiana Glass.

In 1957, the Lancaster Glass Corporation purchased the Indiana Glass Company. Lancaster Glass owned several glass companies including Colony Glass. Colony Glass was having great success with their Harvest Pattern milk glass line. It was so successful they could not keep up with the demand. Some of the Harvest molds were moved to the Indiana Glass Factory to be retooled for machine use. Indiana Glass was soon producing great quantities of Harvest pattern milk glass. It was packaged and sold under the Colony Glass name.

By 1960, new money and new contracts were flowing into Indiana Glass and production was increased. They were producing tableware, milk glass, crystal, plain and decorated glassware and tumblers, lamps, stemware, hotel supplies, soda fountain and bar supplies (A&W Root Beer and regular beer mugs), novelty items and private and promotional mold work of all kinds. Business was booming! In 1962, Lancaster Glass was one of five companies merged to form the Lancaster Colony Corporation. The reference of “Lancaster” was taken from Lancaster Glass and the “Colony” was taken from the well- recognized trade name of Colony Glass.

In 1963, the glassware boxes were changed so they read, Indiana Glass, a subsidiary of the Lancaster Colony Corporation. Indiana Glass added many new and very successful glassware lines and colors in the 1960’s. And if you are as old as I am (late 40’s), you remember quite a few of them. Remember all those red flashed candleholders on the tables of almost every restaurant? Yep, in the fine tradition of Goofus Glass, Indiana Glass started producing ruby red flash glass. Clear glass items were sprayed with a red finish to make them appear like red glass. Sometimes amber items were sprayed with the red finish to make them appear to be Amberina. If the red items were used or washed with harsh detergents, the red finish soon flaked off.

Indiana Glass started making the now highly collectible King’s Crown Pattern and Ruby Band Diamond Point pattern; they had the “flashing” process mastered. The flashing is not entirely permanent but it does not flake off as easily as the first flashed items. The 60’s were a very productive time for the Indiana Glass Co. Many of our familiar carnival glass molds were produced in a variety of different colors. Olive greens, ambers, frosty satin blue and greens called Satin Mist.

The Final Years 1980 – 2002

When Tiara closed in 1998, things went downhill for Indiana Glass. Foreign competition and the bankruptcy of retail stores like Kmart were also contributing factors. They tried to establish some new candleholder and vase contracts but the economy was slow. They were still producing glass for Wal-Mart. Indiana Glass workers had given in to the demands of Lancaster Colony over the years. They had given until they could give no more. On October 8, 2001 The American Flint Glass workers Local 501 voted 267 to 63 to strike.

The factory itself was 100 years old and little was done to update or replace machinery. Health and safety issues were key factors that triggered the strike. The strike lasted 97 days. Work resumed in January 2002 but it was a very short-lived victory for the workers of Indiana Glass. In November 2002, Lancaster Colony announced it was halting all glass making operations at Indiana Glass in Dunkirk, IN. The operation would be consolidated into the company’s Sapulpa, OK factory. On November 26, 2002 they snuffed out the fires under the furnaces at the E Street factory in Dunkirk, IN ending more than 100 years of glassmaking.