The Northwood Glass Company was founded by English-born Harry Northwood, son of a talented glass manufacturer.
Harry left England to work in America in 1880, when he was twenty years old, and founded his own factory in 1887 in Ohio, before eventually moving to Wheeling, West Virginia. Many people believe that it was Harry who brought the technique of iridizations to the USA, having seen it at his father’s glassworks.
By 1908 he was producing a range of iridized glass, using moulds from earlier pressed glass. He began by making a range of marigold Carnival Glass, which he called ‘Golden Iris’. Iris is from the Greek word for rainbow, and Harry thought that this was a good name for a glass which seemed to contain and reflect so many colors.
Northwood proved to be a very productive factory, introducing designs such as grape and cable, fine cut and rose, beaded cable, wild rose, singing birds, peacock at the fountain, leaf and beads, Nippon and rosette. Of all its designs, grape and cable was the most popular, and at one time could be obtained in over seventy shapes of dishes, vases, plates and bowls. Other companies, noting the popularity, copied the designs, which seemed to be quite a common practice at the time. Harry Northwood also introduced some lovely pastel carnival glass, which came in delicate shades of ice blue, ice green and white.
Today, the pastels are highly sought after but are quite rare. White is perhaps the easiest to find and is very pretty with a delicate pearly sheen. Later, in 1915, a range of iridized custard glass appeared. This opaque and cream colored glass has a pastel iridescent overlay, and is now very rare, commanding high prices. Most Carnival Glass is unmarked, but the Northwood company regularly marked their products with a letter ‘N’ in a circle, which makes them easily identifiable even by novice collectors. For a round ten years the Company was at the forefront of the Carnival Glass industry, but then, sadly, Harry contracted a fatal disease. He died in 1918, and without him the company seemed to lose direction, finally foundering to a halt in 1925.
Harry Northwood at one time leased the Dugan Glass Company (when under a different name), and was related to Thomas Dugan, one of the managers. When Harry left, the name was changed to Dugan, and in 1910 the company began to produce Carnival Glass, often using old Northwood moulds. Normally it marked its pieces with a ‘D’ set inside a diamond shape, which is probably why, in 1913, it again changed its name, this time to the Diamond Glass Company. Based in Indiana Pennsylvania, Dugan was responsible for many wonderful pieces of iridescent glass with opalescent edges, using patterns such as fan, cherry, apple blossom twigs, butterfly and tulip, farmyard, fishnet, starfish stippled, pastel swans, raindrops and heavy grape. This company continued production right up until 1931, when the factory was destroyed by a disastrous fire.