When William J. Blenko came to the United States from England in 1893, his vision was to produce and sell American-made "antique" (mouth-blown) flat glass instead of having it imported from Europe. After a few failed ventures, he started The Eureka Glass Company in 1921 and produced stained glass from its Milton, West Virginia glassmaking facility until the Depression. Struggling to stay afloat, Blenko switched his product line to glass tableware, and in 1930, Eureka became Blenko.

Before Blenko employed designers, it had expert finishers on its staff. The first artisans hired for these important positions were Axel Muller and Louis Miller, a pair of Swedish glassblowers who had the background in stemware that Blenko and his son, who joined his father in 1923, lacked. Blenko’s output from the pre-war years is characteristically clean and spare. Its footed goblets and tumblers were uniform in color and simply proportioned. Even the stems were straightforward, though elegant in a casual, distinctly American sort of way.

As the 1930s progressed, Blenko's pieces got a bit fancier. A clear iced-tea glass, for example, would have a colored glass leaf on its outside surface, while dusty-green highball glasses were sometimes wrapped with threads of vivid red. These objects, as well as Blenko’s candleholders, rolled-rim plates, and crackle-body decanters, caught the eye of the folks running Colonial Williamsburg. In 1933, Blenko became the exclusive manufacturer of table and stemware for the historic site.

By the end of the decade, Blenko was also producing amphoras and vases. A new shop foreman named Carl Ebert Erickson had now joined the company. Blenko's line of "Heavy Swedish Type Vases," which have been attributed to Erickson, gave the company its identity just before the war.

After World War II, Winslow Anderson took the company’s design reins. He introduced indented vases of various sizes and colors, bent-neck cruets, and slender, flat-bottom decanters with teardrop stoppers. Anderson laid the groundwork for one of Blenko’s most influential designers, Wayne Husted, who was with the company from 1953 until 1963. During that decade, Husted pushed both forms and color to bring Blenko into step with the prevailing Mid-century Modern aesthetic.

Of particular interest are Husted’s wedge-cut decanters, portrait vases, the Echoes series from the late 1950s, and the Spool decanters, which recall Brancusi’s "Endless Column." In fact, decanters and vertical pieces became something of a Blenko trademark during this period—some pieces stood three feet tall.

In the mid-to-late 1960s, Joel Philip Myers, who is now a well-known artist in his own right, designed for Blenko, injecting the company’s sensibility with humor and whimsy. Especially charming are some of the clear decanters with green or turquoise spouts and stoppers, the lovely coiled and mushroom pieces, and the decanters with cowboy hats and longhorn skulls for stoppers...

One of the tricks about collecting Blenko is to know how to identify the company’s marks since most of its pieces are not signed. The exceptions to this rule are the engraved signatures on the bottoms of pieces in 1958, the sandblasted Wayne Husted-designed logo used between 1958 and 1961, and the pieces signed "Blenko Joel Philip Myers," which grace the bottoms of products made for Gump’s in 1964.

Instead, the company practice has been to affix a foil, hand-shaped label to its pieces with the words "BLENKO HANDCRAFT" on it—paper was substituted during World War II. This label was used from the 1930s through 1982. A different paper label of a stylized Blenko glassblower was glued to the Raindrop, Regal, and Rialto Specialty Lines in 1960 and 1961.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Loetz.com

Loetz.com

This fabulous site is a guide to Bohemian art glass makers from 1885 to 1920. Loetz was the premier Bohemian glass … [read review or visit site]

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Chris and Val Stewart’s impressive attempt to create a complete catalogue of all known cloud glass, a decorative … [read review or visit site]

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

The heart of this website, home of the Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club, is the Identification Project, whe… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Blenko 5929l Ruby Decanter-wayne HustedBlenko ? Blue Mid Century Art Glass Decanter W/stopper Real Nice !!!Vintage Blenko Glass 1960 Wayne Husted Ruby Red Regal 25 3/4" Decanter Rare ExnrVintage Blenko Glass 1960 Wayne Husted Ruby Red Regal 19 1/2" Decanter Rare ExnrBlenko 6134 Jonquil Ram's Head Vase, 1961 Wayne Husted~vtg~"blenko"~handcrafted~art Glass~orange~yellow~spotted~"mushroom"~paperweightVintage Blenko Purple Wine Glass Decanter With StopperVintage Purple Art Glass Decanter Handmade Blenko ? Mid Century ModernVintage Mid Century Moderne Yellow Blenko Glass BowlMcm Lot/10 Blenko Blown Glass Multi-color Bubble Floats Buoy Vintage ModernLarge Blenko Glass Rare 1965 Chestnut Pitcher Pinch Spout Applied HandleVintage Green / Aqua Art Crackle Glass Decanter Handmade Blenko ? Mid CenturyVintage 15" Blenko 5929 Chessman Husted Green Decanter - No Stopper - Mcm Chic1956 Aristokrat Decanter By Per Lutken For Holmegaard - Smoky Gray - Excellent Vintage Art Glass Decanter Blenko Colonial Williamsburg Green Bottle Vintage Blenko Collection 9 Pieces Crackle Pitcher W/ 8 GlassesVintage Blenko Art Glass Elephant Book Ends BookendsVintage Blenko Glass Double Spout Amethyst Purple Water Pitcher Bottle CarafeBlenko Emerald Green Punch Bowl Ladle Ladel Laddle W Label Free ShipBlenko Large Bowl Seafoam #8723lBlenko Free Form Blob Yellow Glass Ashtray Mid Century Art GlassBlenko Glass Bookends Quilted Diamonds Mcm Midcentury Original LabelVintage Blenko Art Glass Zodiac Disc Sun Catcher Scorpio AmberBlenko Blown Glass Green Fish 7.5"Mid Century Blenko Husted Stelvia Italian Glass Vase CompoteL@@k Fantastic Rare Black Blenko Starfish Dish/bowl Only .99 With No Reserve!!!Fabulous Blenko "frosted Seafoam" Water Bottle - #384Nwts Old Stock Blenko Green Squat Vase 705 With Stickers Mid Century Mod