The 42nd National Depression Glass Association Convention Show and Sale is being held in Tiffin, Ohio this year, making it the first time held in Ohio and the fourth time across the Mississippi. On July 16 and 17, glass collectors, enthusiasts and first time visitors are meeting at Tiffin University’s Heminger Center, 350 Miami St.
In addition to the show and sale, the organization is to hold a silent auction and live auction, along with glass identification, educational seminars and displays, and hourly door prize drawings. Additional seminars are to be announced. Authors Tom and Neila Bredehoft, Ed Goshe, and Craig Schenning are to be in attendance.
“The convention will have some of the finest dealers of Depression era glass in one area. Many dealers, glass collectors, and enthusiasts have collected glass for a very long time and have an immense knowledge of the industry and things produced,” show co-chair and collector Tom Maiberger said.
The NDGA and Depression Glass
The National Depression Glass Association organized in 1974 and held its first annual convention and sale in 1975.
The organization’s mission statement, as explained on their website, states they are dedicated to the preservation of glass, specifically Depression glass, and its history, along with education the public on its history and promoting interest in the glassware.
Starting in 1999, the NDGA established its National Glass Collection, which is one of the most comprehensive Depression glass collections. Before 2012, the collection was shown at the glass shows around the country, and starting in 2012, the NDGA established a museum for its collection in Wellington, KS.
“Depression Glass” is the American made, transparent glassware made from the early to mid-1920s up until World War II, made exclusively by manufacturers in the Ohio River Valley.
“It was a period where beautiful glass was produced by companies especially Tiffin,” Maiberger said. “Sometimes the war influenced the colors produced due to the materials or chemicals being used for the war effort.”
Over 100 patterns were made by more than 20 manufacturers—common colors included crystal, pink, pale blue, green, and amber. Less common colors included yellow, ultramarine, pale green, pale blue, cobalt blue, red, black, amethyst, monax, and white.
The glass is divided into two types: “Depression” glass and “Elegant” glass.
“Some people collect what is commonly referred to as Depression glass, which was entirely machine made and often came as premiums in boxes of laundry detergent,” collector and author Ed Goshe said. “Other people collect what is known as elegant glass, which was also made during the depression, but was blown, and had more of an artistic design to it. Both types of glass ware can be quite colorful.”
Prices during the time of production were must different comparatively—pieces were priced by the dozen or by the barrel, with prices of 14 cents each being common. These designs—the machine made patterns—are often referred to as “Adam to Windsor,” to describe the expansive list of different styles.
Receiving the distinction of the first time the National Depression Glass Association has brought its national convention to Ohio, many are still left to ask: why Tiffin? That draw comes from Tiffin’s rich glass history.
The Tiffin Glass Company began as A. J. Beatty & Sons in Steubenville.
“Tiffin was located in the middle of the gas belt which brought glass companies in the area because of the cheap natural gas that was discovered in the late 1800s. The area was known for its glass production,” Maiberger said.
In 1889, they moved to Tiffin until it closed in 1980. In 1892, the company merged with United States Glass Company out of Pittsburgh and became one of 19 factories. When other factories closed during the Depression, the Tiffin factory remained open.
Tiffin is still best known for its stemware and was one of the largest producers of stemware during the Depression.
From the 1930s until the 1970s, Tiffin provided tableware to Sears and Roebuck, Montgomery-Ward, Tiffany’s, Macy’s, and Nancy Prentiss, to name a few.
By 1938, the U.S. Glass Co. offices moved to Tiffin from Pittsburgh. While the official name of the glass was U.S. Glass, it would receive the Tiffin label until 1962 when the name of the company was changed to Tiffin Glass Company.
In the 1940s, there was a shift in the supply and demand of glassware, including fewer produced stemware products, demand of more crystal stemware over colored stemware, and use of china becoming more popular over glassware.
This led to the introduction of the Swedish Modern line, which were more modern, free form designs. The name of the line was soon changed to Tiffin Modern and continued production into the 1960s.
According to author and glass collector Ed Goshe, Famous Tiffin glass owners include Elvis Presley and his Palais Versailles stemware line, produced for him in the green Killarney color; Princess Grace of Monaco and her Tiffin stemline; and the Shah of Iran and his meticulously specified personal stemline called Shah.
The Personal Touch
For glass collector and author Ed Goshe, glass has been a part of his life for over 30 years.
“I have been collecting Tiffin Glass since about 1983,” he said. “I think my favorite things are early etched stemware in color, from the 1920s. I also collect pieces form other elegant glass companies from the same time period as Tiffin.”
For many, Goshe said the historical value of the glass is more personal.
“It is something that they can remember their parents or grand parents having in their house, and they can associate the glassware with them,” he said. “It may have been special glassware used at a party or fancy dinner, or something that they used every day.”
For Maiberger, the main part of his family’s collection focuses on Tiffin glass’s rare pieces. Recently, they have started collecting pieces made by Fostoria, Findlay, and Consolidated. While they started collecting 20 years ago, they did not get serious until about 15 years ago when he started attending shows to help his three children start their own collections.
“I started talking with dealers at the shows and developed close relationships with them. Some of them would contact me about rare Tiffin pieces they found and they got me hooked,” he said.
Goshe said that is the reason many people have become collectors, but for others, it’s a desire to collect something close to one’s hometown.
“I am a collector by nature, and wanted to collect something that was from my hometown, and I finally decided on Tiffin Glass. Other people may collect a glass line for its artistic beauty. Others may collect a stemware line for use when their friends come over to entertain,” he said.
Maiberger said shows like this attract people from all over the nation.
“People do not realize they can purchase gifts (especially for weddings) from the convention or glass shows. The items were made by hand, are unique, and cost the same amount as similar items in the big box stores,” he said. “The difference is that it was made locally and a reflection of the period it was produced and the people who produced it. Many pieces are works of art and make for great home décor.”
Goshe said the show has much to offer for any kind of enthusiast.
“If people collect a certain line, there is a good chance that they will buy some of it there,” he said. “Another reason would be just to get an idea of what was made by the different companies. There will also be tables of displays of glassware, which also would be worth the price of admission. For some people, just seeing the artistic side of glassware design, would be worth attending the show for.”
Stay tuned for more information on this historic event.