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Location:

  • 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) Discovery of glass · Pliny's tale of the Tyrian mariners PPG logo
PPG Seal (1923) Pliny's Tale of the Tyrian Mariners Current PPG Logo

Timeline:

  • 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 brush manufacturers
  • 1902 · PPG buys glass factory at Courcelles, Belgium
  • ...much more...see the 1946 PPG Glass Manual...
  • 1968 · name changed to PPG Industries, Inc.

Catalogs:

Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company · Catalogue A · Glass, Paints, Oils and Painters' Sundries · ca.1900 Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co · Glass · Paints, Varnishes and Brushes Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co · Glass Manual · 1946
Catalogue A
Glass, Paints, Oils

and Painters' Sundries

New York, ca.1900, 310p
Columbia University Libraries
via The Internet Archive
~18MB pdf
Glass, Paints, Varnishes and Brushes
Pittsburgh, 1923, 432p
MBJ collection via
The Internet Archive
~477MB: pdf
Glass Manual
Pittsburgh, 1946, 552p
MBJ collection via
The Internet Archive
~60MB: pdf
...and many more at The Internet Archive

History:

Captain John B. Ford and John Pitcairn, Jr.
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." —Historic Pittsburgh
  • "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 death." —Wikipedia
  • 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 Jeffersonville, Indiana.
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, Massachusetts.
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.
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 known today.
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 another.
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, Pa.
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 City, Missouri.
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 President.
... Keep reading in the 1946 PPG Glass Manual

Stained Glass Examples from Catalogue A:

PPG stained glass · BB · ca.1900 PPG stained glass · DD · ca.1900 PPG stained glass · EE · ca.1900 PPG stained glass · FF · ca.1900

Millet's Prism Tile ca.1900:

PRISM GLASStoltec

Reflex Co prism tile

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.
Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company · Catalogue A · ca.1900
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 Official Hand Book, City Hall, Philadelphia gives this address and Henry E Sealey as manager. By 1912 another tenant occupied the space."


Reflex Co prism tile (Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company) Reflex Co prism tile (Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company) Reflex Co prism tile (Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company)
eBay #302533007438
  • 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." —Wikipedia
  • "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:

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