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Canton Glass Company
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The Canton Glass Company had a long history of glass production-- more than
80 years-- in several locations in Ohio and Indiana. Known today mostly for
their pressed glass tableware, they were also a maker of prism glass,
claiming on their 1890s letterhead, "The Largest Manufacturers in the World
of PRESSED VAULT, SIDEWALK & SKYLIGHT GLASS".
Founded in 1883 on Marion Avenue in Canton, Ohio by Joseph K. Brown, A. M. Bacon, and noted designer David Barker, the Canton Glass Company produced a wide variety of glassware: lantern globes, bar goods, drug sundries, tableware, novelties, the patent Ribbed Filtering Funnel, and their Canton Domestic Fruit Jar (in clear and cobalt). Perhaps best known is their fruit jar, the cobalt version of which is a very rare, selling today for ~$5,000.
The plant burned to the ground on March 23, 1890, a total loss. To keep the Canton name and product line alive, 120 workers and equipment were sent to the idle Beaver Falls Glass Company in Pennsylvania to continue production; there they operated a 15-pot furnace, two press shops, and one blow shop. The owners decided not to rebuild in Canton, but instead move to Marion, Indiana, where a plentiful natural gas supply was located.
By August the new works was built on the 1800 block of Spencer Avenue, producing an expanded line of wares: lamps, knob pulls, bird baths, percolator tops, mortars & pestles, ink wells, fish globes, glass infant coffins, roofing tiles, glass spoons, etc. See the Wares page for a complete list. The company employed about 150 people and turned out 125 barrels of goods per day. Sand came from Millington, Illinois until 1896 when a 15 million ton deposit of white sand was located near Terre Haute, Indiana (halving the sand cost). The company was very successful: in 1892 they had more orders than could be filled, and were forced to expand. A new 15-pot furnace and four new lehrs were operating by August, 1893. Workforce now numbered 235 persons.
Towards the end of the 1890s conditions had changed and the glass industry was suffering. To survive, smaller companies joined together in combines. In 1899 the National Glass Company was founded from 19 smaller companies which together had produced about half of the pressed tableware, novelties and tumblers in the U.S. Canton was not one of the 19, but joined in November. By 1902 only 12 members remained, but in that year National shut down the Canton Works, citing a shortage of fuel. (In 1907, National went into receivership, and by 1911 was out of business, largely due to poor management; the other large combine, U.S. Glass, lived on.)
In 1902, glassworkers and townspeople met and decided to open a new factory to replace the old Canton-- directly across the street on Spencer Avenue from the old works! Former Marion bedstead manufacturer Leo Nussbaum provided the final capital needed, and by February 1903 the new Canton Glass Company was running with 165 employees. Nussbaum was its president, secretary-treasurer, and business manager. The new Canton made basically the same wares as the old. Canton No. 2 was the first to use Swindell gas producers, which could produce gas from a high grade of Virginia coal when the natural gas supply was short. By 1909 the plant was running night and day shifts with 185 employees and producing an even larger variety of wares; by 1910, there were 200 workers.
Canton No. 2 thrived, and continued under the Nussbaums until 1946 when Berthold M. (who replacing his father Leo as president) died. New officers were elected: Earl Knightlinger, president and general manager, and William M. Wright, vice-president and treasurer. In 1952 Wright took over the presidency, and in 1958 he moved the company to Hartford City. In 1969 they were running six continuous tanks and six day tanks, producing mainly wares for restaurants, hospitals, lighting fixture companies, and other industrial firms. In 1971, the company was listed as the Canton Glass Division of David Lilly and Company, Inc. 20 years later, the company was still listed; in 1999 the company still maintained an office but was no longer producing glass.
The Lion's share of this information came from Marg Iwen's two-part article "Canton: The Glass Company That Refused to Die!" in Glass Collector's Digest Volume XII Numbers 4 and 5 (Dec/Jan and Feb/Mar 1999).