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Fostoria Glass Company was once a massive glass producing plant of over 1000 employees, but foreign competition and outdated equipment forced its closure in 1986

David Goran

Natural gas was a desirable fuel for glass manufacturing, and many firms were drawn to northwest Ohio during the 1880s to exploit this newly discovered resource. One of those companies was Fostoria Glass Company, founded on December 15, 1887.

The Fostoria Glass Company manufactured pressed, blown and hand-molded glassware and tableware for almost 100 years. Source

The Fostoria Glass Company manufactured pressed, blown and hand-molded glassware and tableware for almost 100 years. Source

During the early 1920s, the company’s focus had shifted from pressed ware to fine quality blown stemware. Fostoria advertised that it manufactured “tableware, colognes, stationers’ glassware and candelabra”, as well as inkwells, sponge cups, vases, fingerbowls and fruit jars. Many of the stemware designs were needle etched or wheel cut, popular styles during the early 20th century. The company received national fame for its products, even having contracts with the White House. Fostoria’s best-selling pattern was American, introduced in 1915.

Fostoria American Glassware. Source

Vintage Fostoria American Glassware. Source

 

Some Fostoria oil and electric lamps and hand-decorated vases, 1904. Source

Some Fostoria oil and electric lamps and hand-decorated vases, 1904. Source

Unfortunately for the area glass factories, Northwest Ohio’s gas boom was short lived. Gas shortages started occurring during the winter of 1890–91 and during April 1891, Fostoria Glass executives decided to move to Moundsville, West Virginia. Fostoria struggled through the Great Depression and World War II, but survived, producing milk glass and depression ware.

Major Hanson Walker Hunter. He served as Marshall Co. Assessor , Deputy Sheriff, Sheriff and organized several banks where he served as cashier. He was member of the group that persuade the Fostoria Glass Company to relocate from Fostoria, Ohio to Moundsville, West Virginia. Source

Major Hanson Walker Hunter. He served as Marshall Co. Assessor , Deputy Sheriff, Sheriff and organized several banks where he served as cashier. He was a member of the group that persuaded the Fostoria Glass Company to relocate from Fostoria, Ohio to Moundsville, West Virginia. Source

 

At one time Fostoria Glass Company employed 1000 workers who produced millions of pieces of handcrafted glassware annually. Source

At one time Fostoria Glass Company employed 1000 workers who produced millions of pieces of handcrafted glassware annually. Source

The company’s most productive year was 1950 when more than 8 million pieces were produced. In the 1960s and 1970s, the company’s marketing campaign expanded to include boutiques and display rooms within jewelry and department stores. In addition, Fostoria published its own consumer direct magazine, “Creating with Crystal” during this period

Production peaked in 1950 when Fostoria manufactured over 8 million pieces of glass. Source

Production peaked in 1950 when Fostoria manufactured over 8 million pieces of glass. Source

Foreign competition increased during the 1970s and in 1983 Fostoria sold its factory to Lancaster Colony Corporation of Columbus, Ohio, but three years later, in 1986, the factory was shut down. After sitting vacant for almost a quarter century, the site has been demolished to make room for a grocery store and a drive-in bank.

Fostoria stemware and dinnerware continue to be popular collector items, with colored pieces valued higher than clear ones of the same pattern. Earlier American pieces are more valuable than later ones. The Anna B. Smith House in Moundsville was purchased by the Fostoria Glass Society of America and turned into a Fostoria museum in 1990.