Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fostoria Glass and Fostoria Glass Speciality Company 1903

Fostoria Glassware
I remember this at Granny's. Buy it at MountainThyme1 on Etsy.
Fostoria Glass Company not to be confused with Fostoria Specialty Glass Company

According to Wikipedia, Fostoria Glass Company began in 1887 in Fostoria, Ohio and ended up in Moundsville, WV in 1891.  It produced glassware for 90 years, surviving the Great Depression and hitting it's peak in the 1950's.  At one time, the largest glass producer employing 1000 people, the company went from a furnace/kiln firing 14 pieces at a time to mass production. The company was sold to Lancaster Colony in 1983, who continued to make some of Fostoria's famous patterns, until their demise in 1986.  This was 99 years of glass making.
fostoria lamps
Image courtesy of Online catalog, download it here, free in public domain.
fostoria lamp
And one has survived. Go to BuckeyeAntiques on Etsy to buy this!

I remember as a child in the 70's going to my great grandmother's house which had loads of Fostoria's ruby glass all over. Artful bowls and scalloped candlesticks made Christmas dinner shine.  Ironically, though the company was only in Fostoria, Ohio for about 5 years, it's widely regarded as one of Ohio's great accomplishments and part of the Fostoria Ohio Glass Association's topics for discussion.  You will see pieces in their museum today!

Stock Growth for Fostoria Glass Company,  Business Booms in West Virginia

I happened across a Home Furnishing Review that announced in their January 1903 publication that Fostoria Glass Company (then in West Virginia) had announced a cash divided of 8 percent in addition to the usual 2 percent quarterly dividend.  and increased their total stock worth from $305,000 to $400,000.  That's a lot for back then so we can assume business was booming.
Fostoria Glass Specialty Company
This is an old postcard of the Fostoria Glass Specialty Company credit:
Meanwhile, Back in Fostoria we have the Fostoria Glass Specialty Company, Not Related.

The Fostoria Glass Specialty Company was unrelated except for the fact it started in Fostoria in 1899 (and would have only known it's neighbor Fostoria Glass Company for under two years.)  It was located on 4th and Poplar Streets in Fostoria, Ohio.  Here is a screen shot of that location today, allowing for easy distributing, receiving and shipping via the railroad in it's rear door.

Fostoria Glass Speciality Company
Thank you Mapquest!
This company apparently was a producer of art glass, glass lampshades and hanging lamps. The same journal from January 1903 indicates it had suffered a tragic fire in their "Bowling Green, Ohio" plant.  Bowling Green, Ohio,  is about 35 miles away and so I had to further investigate.   This same journal goes on to state that the company had $17,000 of insurance but took a loss from $40,000  to $50,000 having employed 125 men.

Employees in the office of Fostoria Specialty Glass Company. To see full size image, please go to THIS LINK Credit: 

I'm glad to report the offices in Fostoria actually employed women which you can see shots of the building and inside factory here all courtesy of

The Haunting Irony of Cross Referencing the Fire

The journal states that the fire is the third of it's kind in it's location which makes for a hauntingly eerie thought. I went on to cross reference the actual fire itself, confirming it on this history page which indicates it took place on December 9th, 1902 leaving only one furnace standing. It acknowledges that the site was home to a previous glass plant named "Calcine" had burned twice. Therefore proof that the Fostoria Glass Speciality Company's fire was indeed in the previous Calcine location and not the Fostoria location.

Calcine Plant Leads to the Mystery Solved

The Calcine Plant (which made glass windows) had a location "East of the Hocking Railroad" and "North of the Mamburg Glass Company."   They were listed in Executive Documents for 1891.  They were formed in 1890, but apparently burned twice once in 1892 and again in 1893 according to the historical society. The primary location would be considered Bowling Green area.

This wonderful book by Paul & Nathan Krupp entitled Fostoria Ohio  says this Calcine location was known to Fostoria Specialty Glass Company as the  "lower plant" and the Fostoria was the "upper plant".  Mystery solved, except one begs to wonder was this location that burned down three times haunted?

victorian lamp globe
One can only imagine what kind of glass they were making. Maybe something like this? (Find it at Modishly Vintage)

Where is All the Glass? 

I can't find any examples of their wares, only references to them. According to the annual report of the Commissioner of Patents January 1909 there are patents for glass globes. How would one ever know just what their glass globes looked like? 

The Fostoria Glass Specialty Company was able to sell off everything to GE in 1910 for a pretty penny Reference was made in the Electrical Record of December 1911 to them producing "Iris" illuminating glassware , and one can assume doing work for GE must have been more into electrical bulbs and components.  Sadly, production would stop in both plants within only a few years after the acquisition, halting most operations by 1914.


It appears what both glass companies have in common other than their name and fact they were born in Fostoria Ohio is the common fact that when a business is ran well by it's original owners then sold, it doesn't last long with it's new ones.

'Fostoria Glass A Timeless Tradition' by RetroChalet

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