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.
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.
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.
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
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.