A Hidden Gem Among the Stemware

January 10, 2022

If you're looking for a hidden gem nestled in Downtown Tiffin, look no further than the Tiffin Glass Museum and Shoppe, located at 25-27 S. Washington Street

The Tiffin Glass Museum opened in November of 1998 and now displays more than 1000 pieces of Tiffin Glass. The exhibit presents examples of the glassware produced at the Tiffin factory from its beginning in 1889 through 1980.

Visitors come from across the world to see the glassware, and in the past year, they had more than 1,400 visitors from 32 states and six foreign countries.

The Tiffin Glass Museum honors the heritage of the original workers in Tiffin's Glass House. With preservation and education, they focus on maintaining a collection of historic glassware from the factory's almost one hundred year history. 

The museum focuses on preservation work, including acquiring glass, historical documents, and memorabilia from the Tiffin Glass Company and all its iterations. 

In July 1888, A.J. Beatty & Sons glass factory in Steubenville announced it would be relocating to Tiffin. The city of Tiffin offered five years of natural gas, $35,000 in cash, and land valued at $15,000.

In September 1888, construction of a three-furnace glass factory at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Vine Street began.

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Production continued until January 1, 1892, when A.J. Beatty & Sons merged with the United States Glass Company and the Tiffin factory became one of nineteen factories under the U.S. Glass name.  

The Tiffin factory—Factory R—was destroyed by fire barely two years later, and the factory was rebuilt. After changing hands a few times, the factory shut down on May 1, 1980. 

Volunteer Paul Coffman said the museum is definitely a "can't miss" spot in the community due to the variety of pieces made. 

"The variety of glass made comes from all genres, with a concentration in stemware," he said. "People don't realize how big the factory was."

The glass factory peaked in the 1920s, Coffman said, in terms of production. 

"900 employees were making about 100,000 handblown pieces a week," he said. 

To identify a piece of Tiffin Glass, one can find various paper labels that were used intermittently through the 1970s, along with an acid stamp. 

Volunteer Nancy Coffman said that when people get through to the end of the tour, they realize the draw of the museum. 

"It's a hidden gem in our community," she said. 

 Paul Coffman said the key to telling the story of Tiffin Glass was focusing on the people. 

"The hidden gems are the stories of the people who made them," he said. 

In addition to the museum, the gift shoppe features products from the original glass factory, along with other glass collections, collectibles, and books available for purchase.

The museum and shoppe are open 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.  Donations of glassware, time, and memorabilia are welcome. They also greatly appreciate monetary donations. Building is handicapped accessible with parking in the rear. Group tours are available.

For more information, call 419-448-0200, visit their website or Facebook page.

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