There were 13 Different Glass companies in Fostoria, Ohio during the years 1887-1920. During the boom years of 1887 through about 1892, there were about seven or eight plants at one time operating in Fostoria.
The earliest plants were brought to Fostoria because of the large amounts of natural gas that had been discovered the the area. Because of Fostoria’s five major railroads and access to free gas, investors found the city an ideal location to build glass plants. The investors, and workers, from West Virginia and Pennsylvania, along with people from other glass areas abroad, came to settle in Fostoria and while here; to manufacture some of the most beautiful glass ever made in America.
The Glass Heritage Gallery has chosen to specialize in ten of the companies that made glass in Fostoria. Some of the other plants’ specialties are not represented as some were window glass manufacturers, and some made ordinary bottles.
In the Gallery will be found glass from The Fostoria Glass Company, which began in Fostoria in 1887 and, upon indications of a depleting natural gas supply, left this community December 31, 1891. Even though the Fostoria Glass Company was in the city of its birth only a few years, the owners felt that the quality of the glass and its nationwide reputation made the name “Fostoria” the company’s most valued asset.
Another company beginning about the same time was the Nickel Plate Glass Company, named for one of Fostoria’s many railroads. This company was most imaginative in making colored glass, particularly opalescent glass in unusual patterns. They made beautiful kerosene lamps in sweeping, alternating clear-to-opal patterns. This firm had terminal problems when the natural gas supply slowed, as did business conditions with the Panic of 1893.
The maker of the most colorful glass in Fostoria, if not America at the time, was Consolidated Lamp and Glass Company. It began in 1890 as the Fostoria Shade & Lamp Co. and changed to the former name in 1893. The firm made every type of lamp imaginable. It was said that it made, at one time, 60% of the lamps in the United States while in Fostoria. Consolidated made tableware of every type and description. They were especially adept at “cased”, more than one layer of glass in a single piece. It was very rare for this company to make clear glass; almost all of it was in vivd colors.
Mosaic Glass Company was noted for its glass tiles. Jonathan Haley, who lived in Fostoria and started a firm called the Fostoria Mold Company, which made molds for the Mosaic Glass Company, designed the tiles. When the molds were later moved to Addison, New York when the Mosaic Glass Company was sold to a firm there, beautiful homes in the East were fitted with windows made with the tiles first made in Fostoria. Many of these tiles can be found in windows, transoms and doors in old homes in Fostoria today. You can see examples of these in the Gallery.
The latest company to be featured in the Gallery is the Fostoria Glass Specialty Company that was in Fostoria from just before the turn of the century until 1914. The most colorful period, 1910-1914, was when General Electric owned the local Specialty plants and made Tiffany-type glass. Some of the glass in the Gallery is so well made that it is indistinguishable from the Art Nouveau products not only of Tiffany, but also of Quezal, Steben and others made contemporaneously by the Fostoria Glass Specialty Company.