was first pressed by machine in approximately 1825. Designs were ornate
in order to hide manufacturing flaws caused by the pressing machine or
its operator. The busy, delicate and attractive patterns featured geometric,
hearts, scrolls, flowers and overall crisscross designs on a finely stippled
background. Among the first pieces made were heavy knobs, cup plates
and master salts. During the later half of the Lacy Period, creamers,
bowls, plates & other large items were manufactured. The glass
houses were located primarily around Boston and Pittsburgh. Lacy
glass had high lead content & was called flint
glass & has a characteristic tone or ring when tapped.
During this time glass was pressed into drawer pull, master salts, & toddy & cup plates but "sets" of
not produced on a large scale.
next twenty years saw great improvements in the pressing machines and
the techniques of the glass artisans. The patterns became more simple
and more elegant. Specific patterns with a wide range of pieces all in
the same pattern were available from glass factories as far west as Ohio
and West Virginia. Glass formulas that added color to the final product
were well guarded secrets of each factory. Most colored glass produced
during this period was milk glass, originally called 'opal' by the artisans.
Glass was also made in amethyst, several shades of blue, canary (yellow)
and red. All colored glass of this period is scarce and red is extremely
During this time in American History--
Part 1. The 'Heyday' of Pressed Glass ca 1865-1891.
By 1865 the manufacturing processes were perfected and the mold craftsmen were designing some fantastic motifs. During the 70's color became common at most factories. Lead rapidly disappeared from the glass formulas- so the story goes- because the lead was in short supply and need for bullets for the War effort. Soda or lime was able to replace the lead and it was cheaper and more plentiful. Glass made by this new formula is referred to by some today as "soda glass" or "lime glass". The products were cheaper & the glass makers were better paid. Pressed glass was very popular with hundreds of patterns being introduced each year. Some patterns included 100 or more different forms.
During this time in America--
Part 2. The Peak & Fall of Pressed Glass ca 1891-1910.
By 1891 the United States was deep into a recession that would last about eight years. The glass factories' overproduction in the previous fifteen years cost them, as the supply exceeded demand and factories went bankrupt almost daily. Two large combines of glass factories were formed. The National Glass Company existed only four years but the U. S. Glass Company, formed in 1891 continued until 1984. Quality of the glass suffered as factories used the molds well past their useful lives. During the "Gay 90's" patterns that imitated cut glass came into favor with the buying public. Glass was sold in department stores and catalogs by Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward.
New colors were developed, especially emerald green, and techniques of applying color after the glass solidified were used to ad red, amber and gold touches to some patterns.
The A. H. Heisey Company was organized in 1896 and other companies responded by improving the quality of their glass. In the early 1900s some spectacular glass was produced in Greentown, Indiana and by the Northwood Company of Wheeling, West Virginia. Several very collectible patterns were made after 1910, but by 1910 the Victorian Era had ended.
During this time in America--