Fostoria Glass Company
For close to 90 years, the Fostoria Glass Company made hand-molded, blown, and pressed tableware and glassware. The company was established on December 15, 1887 in Fostoria, Ohio, USA.
The lot where its first facility was located was donated by the townspeople of Fostoria. When natural resources in Fostoria started to become scarce, the company had no choice but to move another site in Moundsville, West Virginia in the year 1891.
In 1891 Fostoria was able to construct a furnace that could simultaneously fire 14 glass pieces, which at that time was considered extraordinary. From 1887 to 1909, the company produced and sold fruit jars, fingerbowls, vases, sponge cups, inkwells, colognes, tableware, stationers' glassware and candelabra. A lot of the stemware designs that the company used and employed during this period were either wheel cut or needle cut, styles which were highly popular during the early part of the 20th century.
By the year 1925, the company had already added five more furnaces. The company experienced hardships during World War II and the Great Depression. It was able to keep itself afloat during these trying times by making depression ware and milk glasses. During these periods, Fostoria also managed to produce several distinctive glass patterns, such as Holly (1945), Romance (1942), Colony (1940), and (Chintz) (1940).
Production was at its highest in the year 1950 when the company manufactured more than 8 million pieces of crystal and glass. At its peak Fostoria employed 1,000 workers and made various decorative lamps, coloured stemware, container glass, and dinnerware.
The company further grew in the 1950s, inspiring them to produce new crystal patterns such as Jamestown, Wedding Ring, Rose, and Century. During the 1960s and 1970s, Fostoria expanded their reach by displaying wares in display rooms and boutiques located in department stores and jewelry shops. It also started to publish its own magazine entitled, “Creating with Crystal” during this period.
It has been reported that all US Presidents starting from Dwight Eisenhower up to Ronald Reagan bought and owned Fostoria glassware.
Competition began to tighten in the 1970s, when foreign companies started to enter the market. In 1983, Lancaster Colony Corporation of Columbus, Ohio bought Fostoria’s factory. In the year 1986, Lancaster Colony shut down the facility and sold to consumers the remaining stock.
American, which was introduced in the year 1915, is recognized as the best selling glassware pattern of the company. After the company’s factory was closed down, Lancaster Colony commissioned Dalzell Viking Company of West Virginia to continue producing a number of Fostoria glass patterns, including the highly popular American. Later, the moulds of American were sold to L.E. Smith Glass Company of Pennsylvania.
Fostoria dinnerware and stemware are highly sought after by collectors, with coloured items being much more expensive than clear ones. Older American wares are also considered to be more valuable than later models.
The Fostoria Glass Society of America bought the Anna B. Smith House in Moundsville and in 1990, converted it to a Fostoria museum.
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