by Barbara Rauck Bartlett
As seen in Antiques & Art Around Florida,
Some of the finest glassware ever
made by hand was produced in our hometown, Newark,
Ohio. This high quality glassware, known as Heisey, was produced
from 1896 through 1957. The founder of the company, Augustus
H. Heisey, born in 1842, emigrated from Germany one hundred fifty-five
years ago. He was interested in the making of glass as a career.
Starting with the King Glass Company in Pittsburgh, Pa., he later
went to work for the George Duncan Company. He married Duncans
daughter, Susan, in 1870. Upon George Duncans death, he
bequeathed his company to Susan and Augustus, and his son, James
After his marriage, Heiseys
next goal was to build his own glass company. He found the elements
he needed to produce glass were abundant in Ohio. The limestone
deposits in northern and western Ohio were said to be the purest
of many such deposits in America. His research indicated the
area around central Ohio was rich in natural gas and silica.
With this important information, he approached the Newark, Ohio,
Board of Trade and told them of his desire to build a glass factory
there. The city purchased land for him and totally subsidized
the building of the factory. Heisey was especially pleased to
locate in Newark because labor costs were low and the city of
Newark was pleased with the potential of many jobs being created
for its citizens.
When the Heisey Company opened
its doors in April, 1896, they had orders to be filled! Mr. Heisey
had taken examples of his glass to a trade show held the previous
year. The buyers at the show were excited to see this pressed
glassware, which had the sharpness of design and the appearance
of cut glass.
Heiseys son, George Duncan,
designed the Companys trademark in 1900 and it was put
into use at the end of that year, although it was not officially
registered until 1901. Heiseys ads proclaimed every piece
of their glassware was marked with an H in the center
of a diamond. Since not all of its pieces had the trademark in
the molds, a paper label was applied. If collectors are looking
only for pieces with the diamond H, they might overlook
a very valuable piece of Heisey glassware!
A. H. Heisey died in 1922 and
his son, E. Wilson Heisey, became the next president of the company.
The brilliant colors that are so popular with todays collectors
were produced when Wils was president. When Wilson
Heisey died in 1942, those brilliant colors had all but disappeared
from production and the market place.
After Wilsons death, his brother, T. Clarence Heisey, became
the companys president. It was during his presidency in
the forties and fifties the famous figurines, mostly animals,
It was also during T.C.s
era that foreign competition was taking its toll on many
glass companies. Increasing costs were another of the many problems
that led to the companys eventual demise in 1957. They
closed their doors for Christmas vacation
in 1957 and reopened only to sell out the remaining stock.
About this same time, a group
of Heisey collectors in Newark decided to start a collectors
club. One of their goals was to establish a museum for Heisey
glass, in the town where it was produced. This dream was soon
a reality. A lovely old home that was in the path of an expressway
under construction was offered to the group at no charge. The
one stipulation of ownership was that they would have to move
it immediately! Wheels went into motion and the King House was
moved to its present location in Veterans Park where
it was transformed into the beautiful structure we have as our
Heisey Museum today. Fund-raising efforts include an annual convention
which is now in its twenty-seventh year.
A special find is a favor
vase. During the forties, when ladies auxiliaries or other
groups would plan a get-together they would contact the Heisey
Company to produce a party favor or gift for the attendees. These
three-inch vases were made in six shapes and six different colors.
The company sold them to the groups for about 25 cents or whatever
their budget might permit. Today, these vases could sell for
over a thousand dollars if you happen to be looking for the scarce
Some Heisey collectors enjoy the
challenge of collecting a specific item or items. They will hunt
for that item in every pattern and/or color in which it is known
to exist including candlestick holders, oil and vinegar cruets,
pitchers, jugs, and cologne bottles. Decanters, shot glasses,
stemware, toothpick holders, candy jars and figurines are especially
appealing to men.
Other Heisey collectors enjoy
focusing upon a particular pattern. These collectors will sometimes
try acquiring every item they can possibly find within that pattern.
One wonders if the Heisey Company had future collectors in mind
as they designed an article of glass for just about every food
and beverage served.
Some of the names of the larger
and popular patterns of the dinnerware collected today are; Greek
Key, Banded Flute, Colonial, Twist, Empress, Ridgeleigh, with
150 items and Crystolite, with 300 items. At the time the company
closed, they were heavy into producing the popular Orchids and
Roses plate etchings on the Queen Ann and Waverly blanks.
their sixty years in the business, the Heisey Company produced
several formulas for colors to use in the making of colored glassware.
The first color they introduced during their start up year was
Emerald, a beautiful deep green. Colors such as Milk Opaque,
Custard Opaque, Vaseline and Amber were produced until as late
as 1910. Most of the colors that collectors are seeking today
were produced from 1925 until 1941. One can almost imagine the
shade of the color by its name; Moongleam, Flamingo, Hawthorne
(lavender-like), Marigold, Sahara, Alexandrite, Tangerine, Cobalt
and Zircon. There were other colors made, but they were only
experimental shades of blue, red, gold and black. Items in one
of these colors would be considered scare! Moongleam, described
as the green of moonlight on the sea, Flamingo and
Sahara, were the colors which proved to be the best sellers for
A brief chronology will indicate
some of the major changes Heiseys experienced. Starting
with their pressed ware of the early years, they changed to the
Colonial lines. These items were probably produced for commercial
use. This line of heavy pressed glass exhibits panels, ribs,
scallops and pleats. At least one of these Colonial style patterns
was produced every year the company was in business. It has been
written that over fifty per cent of all the glass produced at
the Heisey Company was derived from one of the Colonial patterns.
After World War I, bright colors and color schemes became very
fashionable and desirable in homes. Heisey accommodated their
customers in the mid-twenties by providing them with dinnerware
in the brilliant colors previously discussed. It was the roaring
twenties! During that same period glassware with etchings,
carvings and intricate cuttings done by skilled artisans was
marketed. The Heisey Company brought the Krall brothers to the
United States from Austria to work for them. Emil Krall was famous
for his beautiful birds, butterflies and floral designs he cut
in the glass. He would travel the country and demonstrate his
glass cutting skills in department stores to amaze and delight
During the Second World War, the
popularity of the animal figurines and the successes of the Ridgeleigh
and Crystolite patterns kept the company afloat.
After the Heisey Company closed, its molds were sold to the
Imperial Glass Company in Bellaire,
Ohio. Imperial used the molds to fill the remaining orders taken
by the Heisey sales force.
One of the goals of the Heisey
Collectors of America Club was to purchase the molds from Imperial.
The funds to make the purchase were raised and this dream came
true. The many thousands of pounds of Heisey molds were brought
back to Newark, Ohio and are now controlled by HCA.
Over the years, a new two-story
building was erected beside the existing museum. Presently, there
are over 4800 pieces of Heisey being displayed in the two buildings.
There is an extensive library at the museum for the over 4000
club members to use and enjoy. The Heisey Company efficiently
kept daily production records, called turn books.
These records are available at the museum for research purposes.
All the glassware was assigned a number; however, many items
share the same number. Not all patterns have a name. As you can
see, identifying some of the glass can be confusing. This makes
the library very important to the serious collectors.
The National Heisey Glass Museum,
169 West Church Street, Newark, is worth a visit. One walk through
this Heisey heaven makes it easy to understand this collectors
" Love Affair with Heisey".
About the authors:
Irene and Edward Rauck were the founders of Moundbuilders
Antiques in Newark, Ohio. The present owners are Barbara and
Richard Bartlett of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. For more information
call 904-280-0450 or contact the Heisey Collectors of America,
P.O. Box 27GF, Newark, OH 43055, 740-345-2932. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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