Discussion focuses on history of glassmaking in region

AMHERST – Glass is something we all take for granted, and it was one of the first products manufactured by the earliest colonists.

There is evidence that it was made in Jamestown, Va., as early as 1609.

England prohibited American colonists from manufacturing, requiring that all goods be imported. That prohibition ended after the Revolution, and New Hampshire was one of the first places to make glass commercially.

On Monday, Dec. 14, glass collector Michael George, of New Boston, presented a lively and entertaining talk at the Congregational Church about the five area glassmaking towns and displayed a variety of pieces.

The first window glass in New England was made in Temple, George said. The factory existed for less than two years, 1780-81. After burning down for the second time, owner Robert Hewes took his business back to Boston.

Since the glass required extreme heat and the only source was wood, factories frequently burned down.

Glassware was both free blown and formed in cast iron molds. Glass is made mainly from silica, or quartz, sand, potash, lime and various elements to produce colors.

Among the Temple samples was a transom window frame with two sections of "bull’s-eye glass," the thick piece in the center of a sheet of window glass.

The second glass factories were in Keene between 1815 and the mid-1840s. There were three locations. One location produced window glass, and another a variety of bottles in darker colors. The factories made a selection of bottles, including the big carboys used for transporting large
quantities, and tableware such as bowls and pitchers.

One of the Keene glassmakers was Joseph Foster, considered a talented artist. He was also considered a troublemaker who spent too much time at the local tavern. When the last factory failed, Foster took his expertise, and a collection of molds, and opened a glass factory in Stoddard in 1842.

Foster had two sites in Stoddard and imported his silica from a site in Antrim.

Stoddard glass includes flasks with a double eagle or a flag imprint and some Masonic bottles. Foster had many private molds, making bottles for doctors and merchants to market their own products.

"Everyone sold their own snake oil," George said. "It was mostly alcohol, but they put in a little cocaine, maybe."

It might not cure your cold, but it made you forget it.

Because of their rarity, the value of an intact Stoddard flask can reach $13,000, George said, although some pieces have brought much more. Bottles are the third most popular collectible, he said, "after stamps and coins."

There was a glass factory in Pembroke between 1839 and 1850, George said, but little is known about it. The site is now covered by commercial buildings.

The last local factory was in Lyndeborough, 1868-88. Foster and his sons brought molds and their expertise from Stoddard after that business failed, partly from lack of silica and partly from lack of transportation. The railroad did not reach Stoddard.

The Lyndeborough people were fortunate in that they owned the source of their high-quality quartz, he said. They developed a way to crush the quartz to almost flourlike; pass it through magnets, which removed most of the iron; and were able to produce a clear aqua glass.

At its height, the factory employed 70 men with 14 glassblowers.

Lyndeborough glass was considered to have "extraordinary strength" and was some of the finest made in New England. But that factory failed to make money and closed.

In 1904, George said, methods were developed to mass produce glass, thus eliminating the need for glassblowers.

George said he was first fascinated by old glass when he found some at age 9 in the backyard. He and friends began looking into old cellar holes and dump sites, and he began researching glass factories.

George and his wife now own the site of the Granite Glass Works in Stoddard, which they are "gradually restoring," he said. "We are finding some interesting shards."

For more information, visit bottleshow.com.

Discussion focuses on history of glassmaking in region

AMHERST – Glass is something we all take for granted, and it was one of the first products manufactured by the earliest colonists.

There is evidence that it was made in Jamestown, Va., as early as 1609.

England prohibited American colonists from manufacturing, requiring that all goods be imported. That prohibition ended after the Revolution, and New Hampshire was one of the first places to make glass commercially.

On Monday, Dec. 14, glass collector Michael George, of New Boston, presented a lively and entertaining talk at the Congregational Church about the five area glassmaking towns and displayed a variety of pieces.

The first window glass in New England was made in Temple, George said. The factory existed for less than two years, 1780-81. After burning down for the second time, owner Robert Hewes took his business back to Boston.

Since the glass required extreme heat and the only source was wood, factories frequently burned down.

Glassware was both free blown and formed in cast iron molds. Glass is made mainly from silica, or quartz, sand, potash, lime and various elements to produce colors.

Among the Temple samples was a transom window frame with two sections of "bull’s-eye glass," the thick piece in the center of a sheet of window glass.

The second glass factories were in Keene between 1815 and the mid-1840s. There were three locations. One location produced window glass, and another a variety of bottles in darker colors. The factories made a selection of bottles, including the big carboys used for transporting large
quantities, and tableware such as bowls and pitchers.

One of the Keene glassmakers was Joseph Foster, considered a talented artist. He was also considered a troublemaker who spent too much time at the local tavern. When the last factory failed, Foster took his expertise, and a collection of molds, and opened a glass factory in Stoddard in 1842.

Foster had two sites in Stoddard and imported his silica from a site in Antrim.

Stoddard glass includes flasks with a double eagle or a flag imprint and some Masonic bottles. Foster had many private molds, making bottles for doctors and merchants to market their own products.

"Everyone sold their own snake oil," George said. "It was mostly alcohol, but they put in a little cocaine, maybe."

It might not cure your cold, but it made you forget it.

Because of their rarity, the value of an intact Stoddard flask can reach $13,000, George said, although some pieces have brought much more. Bottles are the third most popular collectible, he said, "after stamps and coins."

There was a glass factory in Pembroke between 1839 and 1850, George said, but little is known about it. The site is now covered by commercial buildings.

The last local factory was in Lyndeborough, 1868-88. Foster and his sons brought molds and their expertise from Stoddard after that business failed, partly from lack of silica and partly from lack of transportation. The railroad did not reach Stoddard.

The Lyndeborough people were fortunate in that they owned the source of their high-quality quartz, he said. They developed a way to crush the quartz to almost flourlike; pass it through magnets, which removed most of the iron; and were able to produce a clear aqua glass.

At its height, the factory employed 70 men with 14 glassblowers.

Lyndeborough glass was considered to have "extraordinary strength" and was some of the finest made in New England. But that factory failed to make money and closed.

In 1904, George said, methods were developed to mass produce glass, thus eliminating the need for glassblowers.

George said he was first fascinated by old glass when he found some at age 9 in the backyard. He and friends began looking into old cellar holes and dump sites, and he began researching glass factories.

George and his wife now own the site of the Granite Glass Works in Stoddard, which they are "gradually restoring," he said. "We are finding some interesting shards."

For more information, visit bottleshow.com.

Discussion focuses on history of glassmaking in region

AMHERST – Glass is something we all take for granted, and it was one of the first products manufactured by the earliest colonists.

There is evidence that it was made in Jamestown, Va., as early as 1609.

England prohibited American colonists from manufacturing, requiring that all goods be imported. That prohibition ended after the Revolution, and New Hampshire was one of the first places to make glass commercially.

On Monday, Dec. 14, glass collector Michael George, of New Boston, presented a lively and entertaining talk at the Congregational Church about the five area glassmaking towns and displayed a variety of pieces.

The first window glass in New England was made in Temple, George said. The factory existed for less than two years, 1780-81. After burning down for the second time, owner Robert Hewes took his business back to Boston.

Since the glass required extreme heat and the only source was wood, factories frequently burned down.

Glassware was both free blown and formed in cast iron molds. Glass is made mainly from silica, or quartz, sand, potash, lime and various elements to produce colors.

Among the Temple samples was a transom window frame with two sections of "bull’s-eye glass," the thick piece in the center of a sheet of window glass.

The second glass factories were in Keene between 1815 and the mid-1840s. There were three locations. One location produced window glass, and another a variety of bottles in darker colors. The factories made a selection of bottles, including the big carboys used for transporting large
quantities, and tableware such as bowls and pitchers.

One of the Keene glassmakers was Joseph Foster, considered a talented artist. He was also considered a troublemaker who spent too much time at the local tavern. When the last factory failed, Foster took his expertise, and a collection of molds, and opened a glass factory in Stoddard in 1842.

Foster had two sites in Stoddard and imported his silica from a site in Antrim.

Stoddard glass includes flasks with a double eagle or a flag imprint and some Masonic bottles. Foster had many private molds, making bottles for doctors and merchants to market their own products.

"Everyone sold their own snake oil," George said. "It was mostly alcohol, but they put in a little cocaine, maybe."

It might not cure your cold, but it made you forget it.

Because of their rarity, the value of an intact Stoddard flask can reach $13,000, George said, although some pieces have brought much more. Bottles are the third most popular collectible, he said, "after stamps and coins."

There was a glass factory in Pembroke between 1839 and 1850, George said, but little is known about it. The site is now covered by commercial buildings.

The last local factory was in Lyndeborough, 1868-88. Foster and his sons brought molds and their expertise from Stoddard after that business failed, partly from lack of silica and partly from lack of transportation. The railroad did not reach Stoddard.

The Lyndeborough people were fortunate in that they owned the source of their high-quality quartz, he said. They developed a way to crush the quartz to almost flourlike; pass it through magnets, which removed most of the iron; and were able to produce a clear aqua glass.

At its height, the factory employed 70 men with 14 glassblowers.

Lyndeborough glass was considered to have "extraordinary strength" and was some of the finest made in New England. But that factory failed to make money and closed.

In 1904, George said, methods were developed to mass produce glass, thus eliminating the need for glassblowers.

George said he was first fascinated by old glass when he found some at age 9 in the backyard. He and friends began looking into old cellar holes and dump sites, and he began researching glass factories.

George and his wife now own the site of the Granite Glass Works in Stoddard, which they are "gradually restoring," he said. "We are finding some interesting shards."

For more information, visit bottleshow.com.