Monday, October 3, 2011

I is for Imperial Glass

Katy Blue Lace Edge pattern, 1930

Scroll Fluted pattern, late 1920's-early 1930's

Nu-Cut Pattern, 1920's

Genie Lace Edge pattern, 1950's

Imperial Glass Company was founded in 1904 by J.N. Vance of New Crystal Glass (1901). With the help of Edward Muhleman in Bellaire, OH it produced beautiful handmade glassware and continued manufacturing pressed glass with the advent of machinery during the early 20th C. Rapid growth and demand for glass continued and in 1909 Imperial introduced its first line of Carnival Glass, popularized by Fenton and others. It became known as one of the most elegant glassware companies in the US. The most recognized pattern from Imperial Glass is Candlewick (1939) whose design was inspired by a Colonial needlework technique and is often confused with the similar Anchor Hocking Burple pattern. More than 200 items were produced in the Candlewick line, competing with Fostoria Glass America and Cambridge Glass Rosepoint as the most collectible patterns of all time. It also launched the Cape Cod pattern as giveaway items in conjunction with the Quaker Oats Company and supplied F.W. Woolworth with much of its utilitarian glassware. During the 1920's, Imperial introduced its elegant and art glass lines known respectively as Nu-Cut and Nu-Art, imitating higher-end crystal and Tiffany glass. Yet despite the quality and popularity of its glassware the recession of the 1950's, coupled with the availability of inexpensive glassware from abroad strained the company to the breaking point. Although it filed for bankruptcy in 1931 and was able to recover, the global market changes of the mid 20th C proved too much. Lenox Glass of NJ bought out Imperial Glass in 1973, keeping it going until 1984 when production of all patterns from Imperial ceased. Although I recently came across a 6" Candlewick clear blown glass Candy Box with lid listed for $400.00 (!), generally pieces of Imperial Glassware are affordably available as elegant accents for your home. Happy Hunting!


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