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LANDCASTER GLASS WORKS

landcaster marker

Historical marker located at the corner of James and Lake Avenue.

Here is a Barrel from the Landcaster Glassworks.

landcaster barrel 1a

Below are excerpts from the "Glass Lancaster and Lockport New York By, Jean W. Dunn"

LANDCASTER GLASS FACTORIES

The glass works in Lancaster was started in 1849 on a three acre site at what is now the corner of Lake Avenue and James Place by eight blowers from Pittsburgh, an area which had been a training center for glassworkers. The promoter of the enterprise was Charles Reed, and the management of the pioneer company apparently included some of the workmen, as it was called Reed, Allen, Cox and Company. The duration of the first company’s operations is not known. Evidently some of the founders of the original cooperative company sold to Samuel S. Shinn, for the second recorded name is Reed, Shinn and Company. Destroyed by fire in 1859, the plant was rebuilt at once and continued under the same control until 1863 when Dr. Frank H. James purchased the interest of Shinn and carried on the business with N. B. Gatchell under the name James, Gatchell and Company. This partnership continued until after the Civil War when James and Gatchell purchased the holdings of Reed and manufactured glass under their own names, James & Gatchell, in 1866. Later the interests of Gatchell were purchased by Dr. James, and the firm was then known as The James Glass Works. Dr. James retired in 1881 when his company was purchased by some of the workmen and called the Lancaster Cooperative Glass Works.

In the early days of Lancaster the glassworks was among the most prominent of the town’s industries, and it flourished until 1904. The buildings stood idle for a number of years serving only as shelter for tramps moving through the area. In 1912 the plant was demolished except for one building thought to have been the company store; it is an apartment house today. Part of the old brick furnace lies under the driveways of two homes.

In 1907 a new factory was started in Lancaster at the corner of Sheldon and Drullard Streets. Its major products were food and beverage containers. The plant operated under the following names until 1965 when it consolidated with another plant in Pennsylvania: Industrial Glass Co. (1907), Hygeia Glass Co. (1921), Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. (1929), Continental Can Co. (1956), Brockway Glass Co. (1963).

Glass Products

The commercial products of most early glass factories were window glass and bottles. Such items were more important in the rugged life of the settlers than fancy, decorative items. Flasks in quart, pint, and half-pint sizes and bottles were made at both Lancaster and Lockport. It is believed that these were the only products of both factories, except for a period during the Civil War when Lancaster made large quantities of telegraph insulators. The bottles were used for medicines, soda pop, and beer, and the flasks were used for liquor. The flasks were often purchased empty at a general store and then filled or refilled at a tavern as glass was too valuable to be discarded.

Lancaster Flasks

Early in the 1830's the steam locomotive was beginning to replace horsepower and was the subject of twelve known varieties of flasks. The Lancaster pint flask has on both sides a steam locomotive with the words “Success to the Railroad.” Although the railroad flasks are not marked to indicate that they were made in Lancaster, they do occur in the same range of colors as flasks that are marked with the Lancaster identification. For example, Lancaster’s “Cornucopia and Urn” flask made between 1850 and 1860, marked “Lancaster Glass Works, N.Y.,” is found in the same distinctive blue as their railroad flask. The colors listed for the Lancaster railroad flask include its typical olive-greens and ambers and show the nuances of color categories used by the collectors: olive-yellow, light sapphire blue, golden amber, deep amber, clear green, clear olive-green, aquamarine, clear with pale yellow tint, olive-amber, cloudy yellowish or mustard green almost opaque, all of which are comparatively scarce, and a clear dark olive-green which is rare.

The “Pike's Peak” flask made at Lancaster and other factories represents another dramatic event in our economic history, a gold rush in Colorado in 1859 at a time when our country was in one of its periodic financial depressions. Hordes of unemployed workmen, bankrupt businessmen, and adventurers had nothing to lose and hurried West. Because the gold find was in the area of the mountain called Pike's Peak many easterners traveled to that point, crying “Pike's Peak or Bust.” The flask shows the figure of a prospector carrying a staff in his left hand and a pack over his right shoulder. Above his head are the words, “For Pike's Peak.” It is believed that Lancaster’s design showed the traveller, but not the inscription. The Pike's Peak flask is usually categorized under the American eagle flasks, as the eagle appears on the reverse.

A rare pint flask made at Lancaster, called the “Traveler’s Companion,” was made in olive-yellow, deep bluish-green, and aquamarine. The words “Traveler’s” and “Companion” are separated by an eight-pointed star on one side, and on the reverse “Lancaster” and “Erie Co. N.Y.” are separated by an eight-pointed star.

A fairly common flask called “Clasped Hands” or “Union” was made at Lancaster and in many other places in various colors and sizes during the Civil War to encourage unity. One side shows a shield with hands clasped in reconciliation with the word “union” and the reverse shows an eagle. This flask is often grouped with the “Masonic” category which honors a fraternal organization called “Free and Accepted Masons,” a secret society founded on the practice of social and moral virtues and using the square and compass as part of their symbol.

Lancaster Bottles

During the 1870’s Lancaster was a large producer of brown bottles for some of these medicines. It should be noted that these brands were not exclusively Lancaster products. Manufacturers purchased their supply of bottles from the maker who quoted the best price. Examples of the Lancaster bottles were: Burdock Bitters; Clarissy's White Oil Liniment; Dr. Fish Bitters; Flora Temple; Hostetter’s Bitters; G. W. Merchant, Lockport, N.Y. (also made in Lockport); Monitor Inks; Picnic; Plantation Bitters; John Roach Bitters; Shilo's Cough Cure; Shoo-Fly; Stimson and Hebblewhite Blacking; Summerville Horse Medium, Buffalo, N.Y. (shape of horse’s hoof); Warner's Safe Bitters; Warner's Tippecanoe Bitters; Wishart's Pine Tree Cordial; C. B. Woodworth, Rochester, N.Y. (many shapes including boots and slippers); and a barrel shaped bottle.

The Lancaster bottle showing the famous harness trotting horse, “Flora Temple,” has been found in several colors and in quart and pint sizes with or without a handle. Her world record of 2.19-3/4 (a mile in two minutes, nineteen and three-fourths seconds) and the date it was set, October 15, 1859, appear on the bottle, although the entire date is omitted in some cases. Two other bottles made at Lancaster in the 1890’s were the “Picnic” with the word “picnic,” on one side, and the “Shoo-Fly” which contained a thick syrup used by the Amish people to catch flies. The lower portion of the bottle is diamond latticed.

End-of-Day Glass

Although bottles and flasks were the main products of Lancaster glass factories, workers were allowed to use the glass left at the end of the day to make items of their own creation to take home such as bowls, pitchers, sugar bowls, and many novelty items.

Novelty items found in the homes of former Lancaster glass blowers and their friends were canes, pipes, hats, water hammers, flowers, cigar and cigarette holders, doorstops in the form of turtles, and paperweights. The majority of them, especially canes, hats and pipes, were made of brown glass such as was used in bitters bottles. The paperweights came in many colors: clear, smoky, aquamarine, and deep sapphire blue. Lockport also made “whimsies” such as rolling pins, canes, glass chains used as curtain tie-backs, stars, paperweights, and other small objects.

Many choice take-home pieces made by blowers at Lockport and Lancaster have survived. The pitchers are perhaps the finest examples. Some are found with a lily-pad decoration, a gather of glass placed in a swirled design on a pitcher or vase after it was blown. These free-blown lily-pad items are rare and very valuable today. Why Did These Glass Factories Close? The invention of the automatic glass blowing machine in 1903 made plants such as the first ones in Lancaster obsolete, and their final days were spent making fruit jars. Although the new plants converted to modern equipment, they finally succumbed to the pressures of big business. Continental Can Co. with a branch in Lancaster was forced to dissolve its glass container operation in 1963 by federal anti-trust laws. To achieve economy in operations smaller plants often consolidated or moved nearer to the customer who purchased the containers.


landcaster glassworks

Glass Factory in Landcaster.


References:


Glass Lancaster and Lockprt New York By, Jean w. Dunn















































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