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History of The Union Glass Company

Somerville, Mass

1854 - 1924

 Union Glass Company, Somervell, Mass.

     The Union Glass Company was established by wealthy businessman Mr. Amory Houghtson, Sr. 18121882), of Cambridge's.  Who had previously, in 1851 invested in a fledgling glass works started by Mason W. Teasdale and Norman S. Cate. This company, until then known as Cate & Phillips, was renamed the Bay State Glass Company,  and produced a variety of flint (lead) glassware from lamps to flasks.

In January 1854, Houghton liquidated his holdings in Bay State Glass Co.,  to start his own flint glass factory in Somerville, which he named the Union Glass Company. Many of the company's investors and staff were family members, notably his younger brother Francis who served as president. The new factory's design was fairly typical of the time, with several buildings for mixing, melting, blowing, grinding, and storage, on a wide street with immediate railway access. It housed two nine-pot furnaces, with each clay pot holding over three thousand pounds of molten glass. The crown furnaces were coal-fired. In its early years, the Union Glass Company manufactured a wide range of flint glass products including lamps, lamp trimmings, bottles, windows, lenses, and tableware. It employed 100 men and acted primarily as a wholesaler.

During the winter of 185758, the company suffered severely amid a nation-wide financial crisis. In 186061 it fell into insolvency and was reorganized and reopened as The Union Glass Works. By August 1864, the Houghton family had sold its entire interest in Union Glass to K.S. Chaffee. They subsequently purchased one of New York's most reputable glass factories, the Brooklyn Flint Glass Works. After it too proved financially unsuccessful, in 1868 Houghton moved again to Corning, New York to start the Corning Flint Glass Works, which eventually flourished as Corning, Inc.

With Chaffee as president and treasurer, the firm's original name of Union Glass Company was restored. In the late 1890s (note, this explains why some articles list 1893 as the starting year) control passed to Julian De Cordova who operated the plant until its closing in 1924.

Probable Union Glass Company best know line of art glass was the Kew Blass line.  Kew Blas Glass was produce to fill Union Glass Company need for a line of iridescent glass.  It was produced form 1890 to 1924.  It was supposes to be a scrambled spelling of the name of the factory manager at the time: W. S. Blake.

The production of Kew Blas implemented iridescent and pulled patterns made popular at the time by other prominent brands such as Quezal and Tiffany. In fact, Thomas Johnson, an English immigrant who was previously employed by Tiffany and was a founding member of the Quezal team, eventually left Quezal to join Union Glass about 1907, in order to become involved in the production of Kew Blas glassware.    

      One must remember that historically the majority of Union Glass Company  production was of Flint Glass.  This is not of great interested to the Rose Bowl collector.  For this reason we are only illustrating the Kew Blass Line below.


Kew Blass Line Rose Bowl, Top View


 Top View


 Bottom View




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