- Creighton, PA (1883)
- ca.1899 catalog:
Carnegie Building, PITTSBURGH; 49-53 Lafayette Place, NEW YORK;
30 Sudbury St., BOSTON; 442-452 Wabash Ave., CHICAGO;
115-117 W. Front St., CINCINNATI;
Cor. 12th and St. Charles Sts., ST. LOUIS;
124-128 N. 3d St., MINNEAPOLIS; 138-140 Jefferson Ave., DETROIT;
1012-18 Filbert St., PHILADELPHIA
- 62-68 Vandam St, New York (ca.1900)
|PPG Seal (1923)
||Pliny's Tale of the Tyrian Mariners
||Current PPG Logo
- 1883 · New York City Plate Glass Company founded in Creighton,
PA (Works #1); Name changed to
Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company
on August 17
- 1886 · Works #2 founded at Tarentum, PA
- 1887 · Ford City, PA mapped (named after Capt. Ford)
- 1888 · Ford City Plate Glass Company operational
- 1890 · Ford City PGC bought by PPG becoming Works #3;
Works #4 built on adjacent property.
- 1893 · Panic and collapse of industry (too rapid expansion)
- 1895 · PPG buys four other plate glass companies; reorganized,
capital stock increased to $10M
- 1900 · PPG buys Patton Paint Company of Milwaukee
- 1901 · PPG buys Rennous, Kleinle and Company, Baltimore
- 1902 · PPG buys glass factory at Courcelles, Belgium
- ...much more...see the 1946 PPG Glass Manual...
- 1968 · name changed to PPG Industries, Inc.
...and many more at The Internet Archive
Glass, Paints, Oils
and Painters' Sundries
New York, ca.1900, 310p
Columbia University Libraries
via The Internet Archive
|Glass, Paints, Varnishes and Brushes
Pittsburgh, 1923, 432p
MBJ collection via
The Internet Archive
Pittsburgh, 1946, 552p
MBJ collection via
The Internet Archive
Captain John B. Ford & John Pitcairn, Jr.
- "The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG) began as the New York
City Plate Glass Company when it was founded in 1880 by
Captain John B. Ford (1811-1903),
an entrepreneur, and John Pitcairn, Jr. (1841-1916),
a railroad official. The first plant was located northeast of Pittsburgh
on the Allegheny River in Creighton, Pennsylvania. By 1883 the company
headquarters were moved to Pittsburgh, and the plants were producing 20
million square feet of plate glass per year. PPG quickly moved into
research and development, building its first research center in 1910.
To insure a continuous flow of new glass products, the Glass Division
built this new research and development facility in 1958."
- "Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company was founded in 1883 by
Captain John Baptiste Ford
and John Pitcairn, Jr.,
at Creighton, Pennsylvania.
Based in Creighton (about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh along
the Allegheny River), PPG soon became the United States' first
commercially successful producer of high-quality, thick flat glass
using the plate process. PPG was also the world's first plate glass
plant to power its furnaces with locally produced natural gas, an
innovation which rapidly stimulated widespread industrial use of
the cleaner-burning fuel.
PPG expanded quickly. By 1900, known as the
Glass Trust, it
included 10 plants, had a 65 percent share of the U.S. plate glass
market, and had become the nation's second largest producer of paint.
Today, known as PPG Industries, the company is a multibillion-dollar,
Fortune 500 corporation with 150 manufacturing locations around the
world. It now produces coatings, glass, fiberglass, and chemicals.
Pitcairn served as a director of PPG from its start, its president
from 1897 to 1905, and chairman of the board from 1894 until his
- Still operating as PPG Industries, Inc.:
"PPG Industries, Inc. is an American Fortune 500 company and
global supplier of paints, coatings, and specialty materials. With
headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, PPG operates in more than
70 countries around the globe. By revenue it is the second largest
coatings company in the world... It is headquartered in PPG Place,
an office and retail complex in downtown Pittsburgh, and is known
for its glass facade designed by Philip Johnson." —Wikipedia
The Hand of Destiny
Guided the Selection of those entrusted
with the making of Glass
The plan, wherein glass was conceived as man's servant,
could not have provided that its making be left to chance. History
has shown that such was not the case for though many were called, few
were chosen to succeed in this noble profession. Among the foremost
of the chosen few was John Pitcairn—founder of the Pittsburgh
Plate Glass Company.
IT WAS in 1880 that Mr. Pitcairn, then an official of the
Pennsylvania Railroad became interested in the making of Glass. He
listened attentively to Captain John B. Ford, former owner of a
steamboat fleet on the Ohio River, who outlined an alluring prospect.
Grinding sand dredged from the
river, limestone quarries, salt beds, soda ash, natural gas to
melt the batch, coal for power to turn the machinery, all cheap
and conveniently available. Mr. Pitcairn became intrigued and
seriously considered the matter.
He was aware that John Ford had already
failed twice in similar ventures; first, at New Albany, Indiana,
across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky, and later at
He knew, too, that businessmen and
investors looked askance at such undertakings because millions of
dollars had already been lost in no less than a dozen unsuccessful
attempts, dating back to 1850 when a company in possession of
European patents started plate glass manufacture in Cheshire,
The reasons for those failures were
obvious. The process of plate glassmaking was intricate. All the
latest machinery was built abroad; experienced workmen had to
be imported. Expert technical supervision was lacking. Foreign
competition was keen.
All these difficulties could be overcome
with sufficient capital. Plants could be built, and with proper
management the making of plate glass could become a successful and
profitable American enterprise. There would be increasing need of
glass for the residential, industrial, commercial, and institutional
buildings of this rapidly expanding young nation.
So John Pitcairn made the fateful decision
which launched his industrial career and laid
the foundation for one of the most successful manufacturing institutions
of the present day.
Works No. 1, Creighton, Pa. The first commercially successful plate
glass factory in the United States. The site is now occupied by a
modern giant plant, and known today as Works No. 1.
He invested some two hundred thousand
dollars with Captain Ford and associates who organized the New York
City Plate Glass Company. Construction of a glass plant already
started by Ford at Creighton, Pennsylvania, was then completed, and
in 1883 the new factory went into production. Determined that this
enterprise should not go the way of its predecessors, Mr. Pitcairn
became active in its management.
Plate glass was now being produced
on a successful basis for the first time in American history.
This original plant was to continue in operation for forty years
before being dismantled and replaced with the modern factory in
existence today and still known as Works No. 1.
On August 17, 1883, the corporate
name was changed to
Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, as it is
Captain John Ford who by this time had
formed the habit of building glass plants now left his interest in
the hands of his two sons and journeyed up the Allegheny River to
Tarentum, Pennsylvania, where he undertook to build another glass
plant. Again it was John Pitcairn whose financial support made the
venture possible and enabled it to succeed.
The new plant at Tarentum, when
completed, about 1886, was sold to the Pittsburgh Plate Glass
Company for one million dollars in common stock and became Works
No. 2, whereupon Captain Ford proceeded up the river to build still
This time he selected an unsettled
site on the east bank of the Allegheny River about forty miles
above Pittsburgh. Here Captain Ford built not only a glass plant,
but a town as well.
Ford City, Pennsylvania, is named
in honor of this adventurous, pioneer builder of glass plants.
Aside from the glass plants which still constitute its principal
industry, a feature of the town is its park. Originally planned
when the site of the town was mapped in 1887, it contains a statue
of John B. Ford, standing, his hands clasped behind him, facing the
factory he built.
Hardly had operations begun in 1888
as the Ford City Plate Glass Company, when negotiations to buy the
property began. In 1890 the payment of one million five hundred
thousand dollars in stocks and bonds purchased Works No. 3.
Almost at once, another factory was built
on a site immediately adjoining Works No. 3. This new plant, Works
No. 4, was equipped with the newest type of grinding and polishing
machinery which was installed by skilled mechanics specially imported
for the purpose.
Charleroi, Pennsylvania, 1898—named for its sister glass city of
Belgium was once identified as Works Nos. 6 and 7. Here the army in
the first World War conducted research on military optical glass.
This was a period of great industrial
and commercial expansion—instant demands for plate glass exceeded
production capacity. Lack of experience, among other factors, was the
principal handicap of most of the newer glassmaking organizations that
had come into being. The expansion was too rapid and resulted in the
panic of 1893 causing the collapse of all but a few manufacturers in
the industry. The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company in 1895 acquired
four other plate glass companies with plants located at Charleroi and
Duquesne, Pennsylvania; Elwood and Kokomo, Indiana; and at Crystal
The Company now had nine plants with a
combined annual production capacity of twenty million square feet of
polished plate glass. Its already extensive resources were rapidly
employed to develop the facilities of these new units. There remained
only three other companies which continued to operate with a combined
capacity of five million square feet annually.
The history of glassmaking at Crystal
City dates back to 1871, and is somewhat similar to Ford City in
that it also involved the founding of a town. Failing completely in
1876 it was taken over by new interests and was producing some plate
glass by 1880 although not on a commercially successful basis.
The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company,
as we know it today, had its beginning in 1895.
The Company was then reorganized;
the capital stock increased to ten million dollars; Edward Ford
was elected President; Artemus Pitcairn (brother of John), Vice
... Keep reading in the 1946 PPG Glass Manual
Stained Glass Examples from Catalogue A:
Millet's Prism Tile ca.1900:
Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company · Catalogue A · ca.1900
SPREADS LIGHT IN DARK PLACES.
What is Prismatic Glass?
It is an
arrangement of sections of clear glass, having one side smooth
and the inner side grooved deeply into prisms. The rays of
light, upon entering through the window, are thus bent and
deflected into all parts of the room.
Catalog Notes: "The catalog is undated. It gives the manager's name and
business address of their Philadelphia warehouse, 1012-18 Filbert St.
PPG was at this address from 1899 to 1905, and the 1910 |
Book, City Hall, Philadelphia gives this address and Henry E Sealey as
manager. By 1912 another tenant occupied the space."
- Embossed on the bottom prism: "REFLEX CO PAT JUNE 98 5",
referring to design patent D28,909
by Louis J. Millet
(1853-1923) of Chicago, dated June 21, 1898. The
"5" is perhaps a mold# or
indicates the prescription (refraction angle).
- "Reflex Co" is the "Reflex Glass Company",
incorporated in 1898, but the tiles were apparently made by PPG:
it's the same tile shown in their Catalogue A ca.1900 (above).
- "Louis J. Millet was an educator, industrial art school founder,
and interior designer in the United States. He was a celebrated
stained glass artist. He worked on Louis Sullivan and George W. Maher
projects and went into business with portraitist George Healy at the
interior design firm Healy & Millet offering services including
interior decoration, floor tiling, and wood mantels. Millet was
nationally known for his decorative work, frescoes, and stained glass."
- "For the stained glass and other interior decoration of the
National Farmers' Bank
[at Owatonna, Minnesota, built 1907-08], architect Louis Sullivan
turned to Louis J. Millet, an old friend from his student days in
Paris. Millet and Sullivan met at the École de Beaux-Arts
around 1874 and formed a lifetime friendship. In concert with
George Grant Elmslie,
Millet executed the bank's stained-glass windows incorporating several
unique innovations in his mosaic-like American Glass. The two
panes were removed from the northeast corner of the lobby, presumably
in the 1940 remodeling, trimmed at the bottom and refitted in the
stairwell. Each section is presently installed on its side."
—Information Plaque at the Farmers' Bank
Prism Glass 1923: