The New England Glass Factory
Collection of the Maryland Historical Society
New England Glass Company
Cambridge, Massachusetts, was started by Deming Jarves and three wealthy founders
in 1818. They began with six pots and 24 cutting mills that produced ten tons
per week under manager Thomas Leighton. Jarves had a special furnace built to
produce pure red lead for their crystal and to sell to other glassworks. Henry
Whitney took over when Jarves left to start the Sandwich Glass Company.
Cruciform Pattern Millefiori
New England Glass Company (attributed)
By 1849 the factory
had grown to 500 employees who made flint glass. In 1850 they built a new 250-foot
tall central chimney with underground flues that allowed for higher temperatures
in the several furnaces attached to it. The plant also had a pot factory, in
which men kneaded clay and built pots. Each pot could fire 2,000 pounds of glass.
Paperweights were made in the glass-blowing department with its annealing kilns.
In this department, each "shop" had a foreman, a helper, and two assistants.
In 1878, William Libbey leased the firm, and his son took over n 1883. Labor
unions formed and during a strike in 1888 Libby closed the company, sold the
buildings, and moved the business to Ohio.
View of the Boston & Sandwich Glass Factory
Courtesy of the Boston & Sandwich Museum
Deming Jarves founded
the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company in 1825 in Sandwich, Massachusetts,
near Cape Cod. Jarves was a sales manager, not a glassmaker himself, who had
worked at the New England Glass Company from its beginning. His second company
produced up to $600,000 in glass, both high quality and for everyday use.
mericans began making
paperweights about 1851. Many American glassmakers were immigrants who brought
their skills with them from European countries such as France, England, and
Bohemia. For example, the Lutz brothers had worked for Saint Louis and Thomas
Leighton had worked in glassworks in Birmingham, England and Scotland. Because
the Boston & Sandwich and New England Glass Companies shared an owner, managers,
and workers at one time or another, it is often difficult to identify which
paperweights were made by which company. In the 1880s the factory was bought
out by the Electrical Glass Corporation. The business was unable to survive
competition from midwest factories and labor strikes, so it closed in 1888.