The antiquarian







Duncan Glass

Pittsburg PA. & Washington PA.

Geo. Duncan & Sons (1874 - 1892) - US Glass "Factory D" from 1891 to 1892

George Duncan's Sons & Co. (1893-1900)

Duncan & Miller (1900 - 1955).

     Duncan Glass Co.  Washington, PA.

George Duncan story began in 1865 when he purchased the Ripley & Company Glass factory.  This was a small building was located at 10th and Carson Street in Pittsburgh PA.  George was associated with D.C. Ripley and company previously.  It appears that both men chose to seek other partners and Duncan bought out the assets.     

Geo. Duncan & Sons (1874 - 1892) glass factory was founded in 1874, in Southside Pittsburgh.  The factory was located just two blocks from the Monongahela River which provided easy access and cheap barge inbound freight of sand, potash and coal.   

The partnership was formed of George Duncan, his two sons;  Harry B. and James E. Sr. and George's son in law Augustus H. Heisey.  Duncan persuaded John Ernest Miller to join the company in 1874.  Miller, had been in glass manufacturing for twenty years. He was foreman of the mould shop of King, Son and Company when Duncan hired him as a designer. George Duncan's decision was a wise one, for John Ernest Miller became internationally famous for his designs of Duncan and Miller glass during the next fifty-two years.

Duncan & Sons signature patterns known by some as "Early Duncan Glassware" include Ribbon, Three Face, Japanese, Shell & Tassel, Cottage, Ellrose, Zippered Block, Gonterman, and Snail, but there were many more.  

In 1891, the factory joined the U.S. Glass Co. combine, as "Factory D".  The following year, the factory's main building burned down & apparently some of the molds survived or had already been moved to other plants including to Doyle & Co..

James, Sr. who was initially the supervisor of Factory D, had left the US Glass Co. in November of 1891.  In 1893, after the 1892 fire, James, his brother Harry & John Ernest Miller, who had been supervisor of the Pittsburgh Duncan factory mold shop, opened their own factory in Washington, PA, about a half hour south of Pittsburgh, forming a new partnership of George Duncan's Sons & Co. AKA Geo. A. Duncan & Sons (1893 - 1900).  On January 3, 1893 the new plant was finished.  It had 16 Pots of a Deep Eye design and the first pattern to be made was on February 9, reported to be the Mitchell Pattern.   

George Duncan's Sons & Co. Patterns were: Flowered Scroll, Duncan Flute, Zipper Slash, Grated Diamond & Sunburst, Paneled Diamond Block, Quartered Block, Diamond Block Band, Tepee, Scalloped Six-Point, Button Arches, Bassettown, Mardi Gras, Button Panels & Starred Loop.

After James died in 1900, John Ernest Miller became a full partner, the firm was incorporated as Duncan and Miller Company.  At which point John Ernest Miller and members of the Duncan Family were stockholders.  It ran as Duncan & Miller (1900 - 1955).  There method of making hand made glass did not change much.  It was similar to numerous small plant scattered through out the tri-state areas of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.  Only the glass formulas varied, the colors and patterns.  The glass production was labor intensive.  Most pieces required about 10 people to handle each piece of glass.  The Swan required 14.   It all came to a end on June 13, 1955.  It was due to machines and assembly lines for making hand made glassware uneconomical.  They closed the plant.  The inventory was sold off at a reduce price.  The most of the molds, machinery and equipment was sold to the U.S. Glass Company, to be used by their Duncan Division to make Duncan-ware.  The Plant on Jefferson Avenue was finally sold but before the new owners, the Andy Brothers, could move in it was completely destroyed by fire on June 29,1956.

Duncan & Miller Patterns include: Diamond Ridge, Block & Rosette, Ladder with Diamonds, Colonial, Thumbprint Block Band, Clover, Homestead, Sunburst in Oval, and King Arthur

Augustus Heisey, who owned the other half of Geo. Duncan & Sons (through his wife, Susan Duncan) stayed with US Glass until he left it to form Heisey Glass Co. in the mid-1890s.

The relationship between these companies has caused a lot of confusion through the years, but the only connection was the involvement of some of the same people. Other than the name, the connection between the original Geo. Duncan & Sons factory and the one that became Duncan & Miller is exactly the same connection that exists between the original company and Heisey Glass Co.  It can be confusing after all, both factories had similar names, and that wasn't by accident when James Duncan started up the Washington factory, he wanted people to know that he already had extensive experience in the glass business. Some of the early ads make it look like the Washington factory was indeed just a continuation of the Pittsburgh business. There was no sharing of patterns, something that earlier glass writers didn't always understand.  Heacock attributed some of the Washington patterns to US Glass as a result of the confusion; although he corrected the error later, you still find it perpetuated in some books.

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