History of Coudersport glass
1900 - 1904
Coudersport Glass is the history of one glass factory, three glass companies, and a Who’s Who in the glass manufacturing industry during the years of 1900 to 1904 at one location, Coudersport, PA.
The first two companies operated as Webb Patent Tile Co. and Joseph Webb Decorating Glass Co. during the years of 1900 to 1901. Two of the most talented glassmakers in the U.S. came to Coudersport, PA to establish a new glassworks. The two brothers were Joseph Webb, Jr. and Hugh Fitzroy Webb. They were the sons of Joseph Webb, Sr. (1813 – 1869), who was a prominent glassmaker in England. Joseph Webb, Sr. was the cousin of Thomas Webb, the owner of Thomas Webb & Sons Glassworks, Stourbridge, England. Joseph Jr. and Hugh Fitzroy were Englishmen who migrated to the U.S. about 1883.
Joseph Webb’s career is of historically important to the American glass industry of that time. He rose to prominence during his ten years at Phoenix Glass Co. At Phoenix, he was the metal maker (glass formulator) and possibly the plant superintendent. In addition to multiple patents and glass formulation skills, Joseph traveled from one company to another, improving products, after leaving Phoenix.
Below is the work chronology of Joseph Webb as per trade publication or his obituary.
1883 - 1893 – Phoenix, Metal Maker (Glass Formulator)
1893 - 1894 – Libby Glass Co.
1894 - 1899 – Fort Pit Glass Works
1899 – 1900 - Tarentum Glass Co.
1900 – 1901 – Webb Decorative Glass Co., Coudersport, PA
1901 – 1904 – New Martinsville Glass, Superintendent
1904 – 1905 – Haskins Glass Co., General Manager
Hugh Fitzroy Webb apparently spent his career manufacturing glass tiles for flooring, roofing, paving, wainscoting, fireplaces, and other durable ornamental use. It was Hugh who originally came to Coudersport looking for a location to establish a plant to produce ornamental tile. The original Coudersport Glass plant was built to produce glass tile. The plant’s main building was 97 ft. by 176 ft. with two wings, 80 ft. by 100 ft. each. It had a 1,800 foot rail siding and the plant contained two nine-pot furnaces and a four-ton tank.
First production was thought to be in October of 1900. Hugh intended for the bulk of Coudersport production to be decorative tiles manufactured by his patented process. The involvement of his brother Joseph in the second company, Joseph Webb Decorating Glass Co., was to be a sideline that provided a business hedge to offset some risk of his own company. Unfortunately, Huge was hit with litigation for patent infringement. The plant production of tile never went beyond the experimental stages due to the litigation.
Joseph Webb’s company stepped up production of decorative glass trying to fill the plant production capacity. However, in May or June 1901 production at Coudersport stopped when Joseph and Hugh Fitzroy left Coudersport, PA, resulting in the failure of the first two glass companies in Coudersport.
The third glass company to operate the Coudersport works was Bastow Glass Co. from 1903 – 1904, with a one year lease of the facility. The Bastow Glass Co. was founded by Harry Bastow on December 9, 1903. Prior to coming to Coudersport, Harry served as President and General Manager of Jefferson Glass Co. located in Steubenville, OH. He was the Superintendent of the National Glass Company’s, Indiana, PA, and Northwood Glass Works before going to Jefferson.
When Harry Bastow arrived in Coudersport, he brought with him Frank L. Fenton (Manager of the decorating department), and his older brother John W. Fenton. Their intentions were to focus on pressed and blown decorated tableware and novelties in a variety of colors.
Glass production resumed at Coudersport in October 1903. There was a large volume of glass produced through the end of 1903 and early 1904. Production slowed in the second quarter of 1904. Unfortunately, on Sunday May 8, 1904, the Coudersport Glass works was destroyed by fire, thus ending the Bastow Glass Company and all of the Coudersport glass production. The facility was never rebuilt.
Rose bowls were produced at Coudersport, PA in the Shadow pattern. The shadow pattern was produced in four colors: clear (flint) opalescent, blue opalescent and canary or Vaseline opalescent, and a deep transparent green. The deep transparent green was the only color exclusively made at Coudersport and not known to be made by Northwood.
Coudersport collectors believe that the Shadow pattern was first produced in 1900 by Joseph Webb Decorating Glass Company. Later, it was produced by Northwood and Dugan/Diamond by the pattern name Button and Panels. However, Butler Brothers catalogue (Spring 1899) illustrates Northwood’s Button and Panels pattern pieces. Any 1899 production would predate the existence of the Coudersport Glass Works. Due to Harry Bastow’s previous involvement with Northwood (1896 – September 1899) and National Glass (1900 – 1903) as Plant Superintendent of the Indiana, PA site, it is much more logical that he brought the pattern and possibly the molds to Coudersport in 1903.
One must remember that when Northwood sold out to National Glass in 1899, all of the molds remained there at the Indiana, PA site. Dugan/Diamond took over the Indiana, PA site in 1904 from National Glass. The Button and Panel molds should have transferred to Dugan. Dugan did produce some of the old Northwood designed rose bowls. However, Dugan was producing his own original designed rose bowls from (1904 – 1908), which was a true iridized art glass. This art glass had no relationship to carnival glass that Dugan/Diamond made in quantity at a later time. The new glass lines were different than the earlier Victorian glass or the soon-to-be popular carnival glass. It was unlike Tiffany in both shape and iridescence. The glass was most similar to the art glass being produced by the great Bohemian glasshouses of the Art Nouveau period.
Button and Panels was never manufactured in carnival glass. The writer’s speculation is that the molds, which left with Harry Bastow, were transferred to Coudersport, PA and put in use between 1903 and part of 1904. The Button and Panels molds may or may not have been used by Jefferson Glass Company. The molds were subsequently destroyed in a fire at Coudersport in 1904. This would also explain why there are no carnival glass examples of this pattern in existence.
We should also remember after 1908, Jefferson sold many of its Steubenville opalescent glass molds to the H. Northwood and Co. which was operating at the former Hobbs, Brockunier Plant located in Wheeling, WV. Not to be confused with the Northwood Co., located in Indiana, PA. which was then the Dugan Glass Co. For this reason, quite a few of Jefferson's early opalescent glass patterns are familiar to carnival glass collectors as: Vintage, Fine Cut & Roses, Meander, plus Ruffles & Rings–all Jefferson patterns used later as Northwood carnival glass patterns.
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