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History of Hobbs, Brockunier & Co.

Whelling, Wv

     In 1845 John L. Hobbs and James B. Barnes leased and latter purchased an idle glasshouse which was known as the South Wheeling Glass Works.  Mr. Hobbs and Mr. Barnes were former employees of the New England Glass Company.  Mr. Barnes an engineer designed and constructed the furnaces at New England Glass.  Mr. Hobbs was the foreman of the glass cutting shop at New England. In 1849 John L. Hobbs died the company changed their name from Barnes, Hobbs and Company to Hobbs, Barnes and Company.  James F. Barnes was James B. Barnes son.  Father and son owned more than 50% of the stock in the company.  After James B. Barnes death J. L. Hobbs son J. H. Hobbs entered the business.  We must also assume there was a change in owner stock ownership in favor of the Hobbs family. 

In 1863 James F. Barnes retired resulting in John H. Hobbs controlling the Company.  He took in two new partners, James Leighton (chemist and glass Blower) and Charles W. Brockunier (bookkeeper).  The company name was again change to J. H. Hobbs, Brockunier and Company.  They produced flint glass or clear glassware including bar wares, lamps, lamp chimneys, commercial containers and apothecary ware. 

Between 1845 and 1870 Hobbs had extensive growth which more the doubled their production output.  They continued to manufacture large amounts of cut glass and well as pressed glass.  At some point prior to 1870 they add fancy color glass.  In 1879 Hobbs, Brockunier and Company installed a new gas furnace “which was a great innovation”.  Hobbs, Brockunier claimed their factory was the largest in the United States.  The plant had three furnaces with a weekly capacity of about 60 tons.  The plant employed 330 people.  This made the company larger than the New England Glass Company or the Bakewell firm.  On April 7, 1881 Hobbs, Brockunier laid off all of their engravers.  The factory was then damaged by fire in 1882.  In 1887 the partnership was dissolved, Brockunier and Leighton left to pursue other interest.  In 1888 Hobbs the final major stockholder reorganized the company as Hobbs Glass Company.  Mr. Hobbs continued to run the company as General Manager from 1888 to 1891.  In 1891 the stockholder decided to join the newly formed United States Glass Company based in Pittsburg, PA.  The plant was closed in the fall of 1893.  The plant remained closed until 1902 when a deal was cut with Harry Northwood. Ironically Harry Northwood began his US career at Hobbs, Brockunier and Company in the early 1880s.          

Hobbs was known for their production of Cut Glass, Chandeliers (late 1870s – 1880s), Pressed Ware (1860s – 1890s), Press Ware was made of clear and Opal, Milk Glass (1860s – 1870s) colored glass after the 1870s and their Blown Ware was mostly made in the 1880s.          

Hobbs, Brockunier and Company was known for producing four heat sensitive forms of glass:  which were Rubina, Rubina Verde (Hobbs’ Rubina Verde tends to be yellow is stead of green on the bottom), Ruby Amber and their most famous glass Peachblow.  Their Peachblow was originally known as Coral Ware.   All of their Peachblow is lined typical with white or opal.  In addition they also produced broad and varied line of opalescent glass ware.   

They were also known for certain patterns such as:  hobnail or Frances Ware, Tree of Life, Daisy and Button.  They also produced crackle glass, spangle ware and a wide array of Ruby glass items.  They were also known for their use of optics:  Hobnail, Polka Dot and Inverted Thumbprint.       

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