History of Northwood Glass Company
To have a basic understanding of Northwood Glass Company, we must first review the life of Harry Northwood, the founder of Northwood Glass Company. Harry Northwood’s father was none other than the famous John Northwood of whom several books have previously been written. John was famous for his expertise with cameo glass such as the Milton Vase (1878) and the Pegasus or Dennis Vase (1882). He not only created designs and glass colors for the cameo glass, he also was an innovator in acid etching of glass and inventor of a template machine for decorating. John also invented a glass crimping device and designed different patterns or motifs to be made with hot glass. These motifs included Matsu-No-Ke, Acanthus decorations, and Blackthorn spray.
Not only did Harry inherit his father’s natural art talents, but he also had, as an example, one the greatest glass talents of the day as a mentor. While Harry was attending art school, he was working at Stevens and Williams Glass Works. He was apprenticed and received training from his father at 14 years of age.
Harry Northwood immigrated to the USA from England in 1881 and applied for US citizenship in 1886, and received it in 1889. In 1882-83, Harry Northwood was listed as a glassetcher in Calling’s Wheeling Director. Harry was working for Hobbs, Brockunier & Company, Wheeling WV.
Between 1884 and 1887, Harry worked for La Belle Glass Works, Bridgeport, OH. In 1884, La Belle was forced to close for eight months due to flooding of the Ohio River and associated damage. Just as they were ready to start up the factory again, the glass workers went out on strike, which lasted until December of 1885. While the La Belle Glass Works were closed for the 19 months period due to flood and strike, Harry Northwood was working for Phoenix Glass Company at Phillipsburg, Pa. The Phoenix Glass Co. benefited from John Northwood’s patented crimper (Patent #327,406) that was assigned to Harry Northwood of Bridgewater, PA. Bridgewater is across the river from what was Phillipsburg, the former site of Phoenix Glass Co. While working for Phoenix, their glass chemist (metal maker) was Joseph Webb, cousin of Thomas Webb. Phoenix just happened to obtain the rights to manufacture “the Celebrated Webb Glass” at that time. Harry certainly would have understudied Joseph Webb while at Phoenix. This would have expanded his knowledge of glass formulation exponentially.
On November 20, 1885, Harry Northwood returned to La Belle Glass Works as Manager of the glass works. In 1886, La Belle started producing opalescent crimped glassware. At that time, Phoenix was producing similar wares, such as their “Dew Drop,” an opalescent hobnail glass.
In August 1887, Harry received a patent for his improvements to his father’s crimper. In the fall of 1887, La Belle Glass Works was totally consumed by fire, forcing Harry Northwood to leave La Belle at age 27.
In 1888, The Northwood Glass Company, located at Martin’s Ferry, OH at the former Union Flint Glass Works, started production. In 1890, the pattern Royal Ivy was introduced and produced in clear and frosted (satin) rubina and Spatter glass. In 1891, the Jewel pattern was introduced and also produced in clear and frosted (satin) rubina. This pattern was originally called “Threaded Rubina” by William Heacock, however, later amended to “Threaded Rubina Swirl” and finally to “Threaded Swirl,” but the correct original name is Jewel. Various other patterns were also being manufactured, many in opalescent glass.
In February 1891, the Martin’s Ferry plant was flooded by the Ohio River, but reopened in mid-March. By mid-April 1892, Northwood Glass Company had decided to move their operations to Elwood, PA. This decision was probably due to several factors including: flooding; the rise in natural gas prices; possible gas supply problems; capacity limitations of the existing factories, and the gaining strength of the unionized glassworkers.
Northwood’s major competitor was the United States Glass Company, a combination of 18 individual companies formed in 1891. USGC decided to run their operations with non-union employees. Whatever the reason, by the fall of 1892, the Martin’s Ferry plant was closed. The former Northwood Martin’s Ferry site was rented and reopened in 1895 as the Beaumont Glass Company. and Harry Beaumont was Harry Northwood’s brother-in-law. Beaumont Glass Works purchased the site in 1899 and operated there until 1902 at which time Beaumont moved to Grafton, WV. The plant was sold to Haskins Glass Company, which operated the plant until it was destroyed by fire in 1909.
In 1892, Northwood built a new glass factory Elwood, PA, which had greater capacity than that of the former Martin’s Ferry site. The glass made at Elwood, PA like that made at Martin’s Ferry was mold-blown glassware.
In 1892, Northwood introduced Granite Ware that was made at Martin’s Ferry, since the Elwood plant was under construction. Basically, granite ware was a color effect, made by applying a dense application of white speckles (frit) over blue glass. This process had been patented by Northwood several years earlier. Some of the granite ware items were also decorated with gold paint and a few had an opalescent treatment to the top rims.
In 1895, the Daisy & Fern pattern was introduced using the Parian Swirl molds. The Daisy and Fern pattern was also later produced in Indiana, PA. In February 1896, Harry Northwood left his position at the Elwood, PA operation for a new glass operation in Indiana, PA. The Northwood Glass Company in Elwood, PA closed its operations in March of 1896. The site next reopened in 1889 after purchase by the America Lamp and Brass Company and became known as Clark Brothers Glass Company. The firm reorganized in 1905 as the Elwood City Glass Company.
In 1892, the Indiana Glass Company was formed. Indiana Glass Works was not a success and was to be sold at the Sheriff Sale in October of 1885. However, it was not until 1896 that the Northwood Glass Company, Indiana, PA was operating the former Indiana Glass Company site.
In 1898, the citizens of Indiana, PA purchase the factory and gave it to the Northwood Glass Company in exchange for keeping the plant in Indiana, PA. The deed listed Thomas Dugan and Clara Northwood as the purchasers. Thomas Dugan was Harry’s uncle and silent partner; Clara Northwood was Harry’s wife.
In 1899, Opaline Brocade (later called Spanish Lace), Opal Open and Intaglio glass lines were introduced. Also in 1899, Harry Northwood returned to England, the National Glass Company operated the site from 1900 – 1904. From 1904 – 1913 the Dugan Glass Company operated the site.
Harry Northwood returned to Indiana, PA in 1901. As he was nearing an agreement with the United States Glass Company for the purchase of the old Hobbs, Brockunier works in Wheeling, WV, his father John Northwood (still working for Stevens and Williams) died on February 13, 1902. Harry Northwood immediately left for England. On April 24, 1902, the Board of Directors of United States Glass Company approved the sale of the former Hobbs, Brockunier Plant to Harry Northwood and Thomas Dugan– thus H. Northwood and Co. was created in Wheeling, WV. The Hipkins Novelty Mold Company of Martin’s Ferry was contracted to produce the new company’s first molds.
The years from 1903 to 1907 were spent in establishing the H. Northwood and Co. as a premier producer of glass tableware.
In 1903, Carnelian, Mosaic, and Opalescent Novelties new lines of glassware were introduced. In 1904, a novelty opalescent rose bowl sometimes called Pear flowers was introduced. It is also shown in a 1906 brochure listed as Fairmont Opal assortment. In 1906, the Vere D’or and Intaglio Lines were introduced. Northwood also introduced what is known as “Goofus Glass” in 1906. Also 1906 was the first year Northwood started using the N-in-a-circle as a trademark. The Leaf and Beads rose bowl was introduced in 1906 in the “Venetian” opal assortment.
The years between 1908 and 1915 contain the majority of Northwood’s carnival glass production.
Harry Northwood died on February 4, 1919, at 58 years old. He was preceded by his brother Carl the year before. H. Northwood and Co. lacked leadership and struggled along until 1925 when it went into receivership and closed. The Company’s assets were sold at auction on June 14, 1926.© 2007 the antiquarian, All rights and media reserved.