MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (WTRF) — One of the biggest names in blown glassware made its mark in American history when it moved its company to Moundsville, West Virginia, in 1891.
According to the Fostoria Glass Museum, the company started in Fostoria, Ohio, on December 15, 1897, but the chosen site did not offer the natural gas sustainability the company required. Just four short years later, Fostoria moved to Moundsville, West Virginia, which held an abundance of gas, coal, and other needed materials close at hand.
Fostoria’s first decade was used to make pressed ware, but in the early 20th Century, the company realized the potential of developing quality blown stemware.
According to the Fostoria Museum, it was one of the first companies to start a national advertising program and the first to produce complete dinner services in crystal.
Fostoria made a niche for themselves by offering not only their regular line of blown, etched, and pressed patterns but also custom work, such as providing glass with government seals for officials in Washington.
In 1915, Fostoria Glass introduced the most successful pattern in glassmaking history, the AMERICAN pattern, the longest-produced pattern in American history. It was also one of the most diverse, with almost 400 shapes made from a single pattern.
In the 1950s, Fostoria glassware became a presidential fixture, supplying glassware from Eisenhower and Reagan, and was at one time the largest maker of handmade glassware in the United States, employing over 1000 people and creating 8 million pieces of glass.
Lancaster Colony bought Fostoria in 1893 but could only keep Fostoria afloat for three years after taking over the company. Due to an outmoded plant and foreign competition, Lancaster was forced to close Fosteria in 1986, ending nearly 100 years of glass making.
Fenton Glass, also located in West Virginia, acquired the company, molds and all.
Unfortunately, Fenton Glass closed, which meant Fostoria’s molds were again up for sale.
Fostoria fans did not want the historical mold to fall into the hands of just anyone, so they borrowed $40,000 from everyone, from state lawmakers to county commissioners, to raise the money and buy the molds back.
The molds and other pieces of glassware are located in the Fostoria Glass Museum, which is located at 511 Tomlinson Ave in Moundsville, WV.
The Fostoria Glass Museum is open Wednesdays – Saturday, 1-4 p.m March-November.
If you want to bring a piece of nostalgia into your home, Fostoria pieces are still available on auction sites such as eBay and Etsy.
(Video in the story shows the top stories for Tuesday, November 7, 2023)