I’ve been adding a lot of glassware recently to the Vintage Eve’s shop when I realized I never did a post on Federal Glass. I did touch on it briefly in my post about Depression Glass but it deserves a post of its own.
In 1900, George and Robert J. Beatty, who came from a successful glass-making family, banded together with some other glass makers to start Federal Glass in Columbus, Ohio. At that time, they were only making tumblers and jellies.
By 1906 they had expanded their line to include bottles and jars. Mostly utilitarian stuff which was common around this time in a number of glass houses. By 1914 they were making some pressed glass pieces. According to the Glass Encyclopedia, many of their designs were from molds acquired from other companies.
They used a lot of designs that originated with US Glass Company such as “Peacock Feather,” “Kansas,” and “Caledonia” all of which were made originally by US Glass. Their glassware was still clear flint glass at this point, they hadn’t made any colored glass. Some other companies were using the same patterns as Federal during this time, too, which can be slightly confusing.
Around 1913, old catalogs show that they were also making items for groceries such as salt, pepper and spice shakers. They also made measuring jugs and other items. I was not able to track down a picture of the catalog but it’s out there somewhere.
During the early years they were plagued with union strikes from the flint workers. One strike lasted almost 2 years. They tried to keep their shop non-union while paying their workers more than most people in the business (www.FOHBC.org).
During the 1920s they continued to expand their lines into full tableware sets, colored glass, and more. By the 1920s and 1930s they were creating some patterns in Depression Glass that are looked for by collectors today. Some of those patterns are “Diana (1937-1941),” “Mayfair (1934),” “Parrot (1931-1932),” “Sharon,” and a number of others. One of their more popular designs in 1940s was the “Park Avenue.”
Around 1927 the Federal Glass mark started being used in catalogs. It is an “F” inside a shield. The mark itself was not registered until 1944.
From what I uncovered in my research, Federal Glass Company was good to its employees. When their employees returned from WWII, they were given back their jobs or received better ones, and they closed for a day to honor those who had died in the war.
In 1949, Corning Glass Works sued Federal saying they had infringed on 2 of their patents. Both patents were related to heat-treated glass they used in their tumblers under the “STURDEE” name. It took 6 years to bring to trial and was dismissed as unfounded in 1956. Then there was a company named “Federal Glass Company” in Dover, Delaware that Federal Glass sued asking them to stop using the “Federal” name. The Ohio Federal Glass won and was awarded the right to rename the Delaware company (www.FOHBC.org).
They were quite prosperous through the 1950s and 1960s. So why did they go out of business? One reason, according to FOHBC, is that a lot of their business was wrapped up in premiums that gas stations gave away. When the gas shortages hit in the early 1970s, their business took a $5 million hit. Then the Federal Paper Board, with whom they had merged in 1957, decided to sell the glass division to Lancaster Colony. That sale didn’t go through.
After a lot of back and forth, Lancaster tried again but wanted the right to reduce wages and remove pensions. The results were that in 1979 they ceased making glass. FOHBC goes into a lot more detail on what caused the complete collapse such as the wide-spread use of plastics and more. They had made it through the Great Depression but after 79 years in business, the doors closed.
Well, that is a quick look at the Federal Glass Company. They made some great and enduring pieces that we still love today. I hope you enjoyed reading and remember to join me at the link parties on the right this week! Have a great week!