1887 – 1992
95 Years of Glassmaking
Assembling a Fostoria collection is an adventure with many facets. Not only can we own beautiful glass to use and enjoy, but interest and desire are generated to learn more about all glassware manufactured in America. Our family’s quest for Fostoria actually began at a Texas estate sale in 1969. We left that sale the proud owners of several pieces of honey-colored stemware. We did not know at the time that this was the pattern Vesper or that Fostoria was the maker. After looking through very limited available material showing Cambridge and Heisey glass, we thought perhaps our pattern might be a Fostoria product. It took a trip in 1970 to the Fostoria plant in Moundsville, West Virginia, to establish the correct identify. We were delighted when Hugh Buzzard Sr., the general sales manager, said those magic words, “Yes, that’s ours, we made that a long time ago.”
There is little doubt Fostoria was the most versatile of all the American glass manufacturers. Because of extensive advertising, Fostoria became a household word. When the company first opened its doors, the manufacturing of oil burning lamps was a major part of their business. Some of the more glamorous lamps were the opal decorated pieces sold as parlor lamps. Other interesting items that were also made in opal were miniature lamps, vases, and vanity items. Much of the early tableware was pressed glass with geometric designs. Some of these pressed patterns were made in colors of canary, emerald green, and opal, and various decorations such as gilding, ruby, and purple blushes. The early Fostoria years yielded carloads of jelly glasses plus bar and hotel wares. The jug and tankard lines were extensive, made by both the blown and pressed processes.
After 1900, blown stemware became very popular with the American housewife, and Fostoria became a leader in this field. This firm was a large producer of candlesticks, candelabra, and lustres, and by the 1920s, these items were illustrated in a separate catalog. In the mid-1920s, Fostoria began to concentrate on the bridal market and brought out colored stems. By 1927, these stems were more elaborate in design and made in three parts: bowl, stem, and foot.
The wonderful burgundy, regal blue, and ruby colors were marketed extensively starting around 1933, a trend away from the pink, amber, green, and azure of former years. The crystal etchings Navarre and Meadow Rose were introduced in 1936 and became instant successes. Several of the dinnerware patterns were greatly expanded in 1939 and 1940, but this period of expansion was cut short by the advent of World War II. Color was also severely limited during this period. In the 1950s, Fostoria turned to manufacturing milk glass, and this was a highly successful move. Animals, novelties, and dresser items were produced in milk-white in addition to pastel colors. Several new pressed patterns were introduced in color in the 1960s. In addition, the patterns American and Colony were still being made but were limited in size.
The 1970s brought renewed interest in the acid etched patterns Navarre and Meadow Rose, and these were made in two new pastel shades. By the late 1970s, Fostoria Glass Company realized that manufacturing methods would have to change; they were faced with rising production costs plus competition from imported glass.
In May of 1982, Fostoria announced that their production of hand-made glass would cease. They pledged to continue the production of lead crystal glassware. At the time this decision was reached, Fostoria was America’s oldest producer of hand-made glass. In 1983 the Fostoria Glass Company was sold to the Lancaster Colony Corporation, and in 1986 the Moundsville, West Virrginia plant was closed.