Friday, January 20, 2017

Libbey Glass

John Abbot posted
My hometown Toledo Ohio made lots and lots of parts for glass machines...
Once again, notice how the illustrator shows black smoke coming out of each smokestack because in the 19th century that was considered a symbol of prosperity, not pollution.

Libbey has a history page, but this overview is better.
The Libbey Glass Company was one of the largest glass manufacturers in the United States of America during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
In 1888, Edward Libbey moved his glass-manufacturing establishment from Massachusetts to Toledo, Ohio. His workers utilized a recently discovered deposit of natural gas to manufacture the glass. The Libbey Glass Company produced bottles, containers, window glass. The firm was best known for its cut glass.
The Libbey Glass Company became even more profitable after Michael Owens, an inventor from Newark, Ohio, joined the firm. Owens developed a machine that could automatically produce bottles, tumblers, and glass chimneys. This invention dramatically increased production. It also lowered manufacturing costs, as the company was able to fire workers now that machines could do the work instead.
The Libbey Glass Company continued to grow during the early twentieth century. With the creation of the automobile and this invention's wide-scale acceptance, the Libbey Glass Company began to produce windshields. Thanks to the efforts of the Libbey Glass Company, Toledo became known as “the glass capital of the world” during the early 1900s. The company remains in operation in the twenty-first century. In 2004, it was the United States' largest manufacturer of glass dinnerware, with plants in Louisiana, California, and Ohio, as well as in the Netherlands. [OhioHistoryCentral]
Company-histories has the history of Libbey while they were in Massachusetts. This reference also explains: "A turning point came in 1892 when the Corning Glass Works was shut down by a strike and Libbey Glass was able to secure a contract from Edison General Electric to produce handblown light bulbs." Also of note is that movie merchandising is not a recent development: "Of note during this period [the depression] was a promotional tie-in with Walt Disney's highly successful animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Countless tumblers featuring characters from the movie were filled by dairies with cottage cheese and sold across the country."

It is refreshing to read about a company that still has manufacturing facilities in America. Google found these in the Toledo area: Toledo Ash St., Perrysburg (just warehousing and distribution) and the headquarters. I could not find any location information on their web site.

"A poorly timed introduction of high-end art glass during the Great Depression proved to be a costly mistake for the company, and it was sold to Owens-Illinois Glass Company in 1935. In the wake of World War II, the Libbey brand discontinued handmade cut glass to focus on machine-made and heat-treated glassware. In 1993 the division was spun off into an independent venture again, as Libbey Inc. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the company acquired several international glassmakers and expanded its operations to include flatware production and a number of overseas factories." [Britannica]

Update:  Libbey Inc. celebrates 200 years.

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