After leaving the Union army as a Major after the Civil War, A.H. Heisey spent his adult life working in the glass business, and in 1895 he founded his own company in Newark, Ohio. His company went on to create pressed glassware so precise that it looked like cut glass. The Heisey Glass Company continued selling glass in its famously vivid colors until it was sold in 1958. Some of its most memorable pieces come from the Depression era.
Early on, the company was known for its colorless pressed glass tableware. In the first two decades of the 20th century, designer Arthur J. Sanford produced much of tableware for Heisey, a lot of it in the Colonial style.
Heisey was a forward-thinking company. It promoted itself around the United States through magazine advertising and became the first glassware company to use advertising as an essential marketing tool.
In the 1920s, shortly after the death of Major Heisey in 1922, the company began experimenting with exotic colors. These colors, which included Flamingo (a pink), Sahara (a yellow), and Dawn (a purple), supplemented the company’s already thriving crystal business and helped make Heisey one of the most popular Depression-era glassware companies. Today, these colored pieces are some of Heisey’s most collectible items.
During the Depression, Heisey released dozens of designs such as Charter Oak, which was produced between 1926 and 1935 and featured bowls, candlesticks, plates, stems, tumblers, lamps, pitchers, and comports. Charter Oak, as well as other designs like Chintz and Lariat, came in various colors, in addition to clear crystal. Other patterns such as Crystolite were produced exclusively in crystal.
During and after World War II, Heisey dabbled in high-end art glass, which the company branded as Verlys. It also produced and sold figurines. During the postwar period, Heisey became particularly known for its glass animals in a wide array of colors.
Heisey’s output was not limited to glass for the home. Over the years, Heisey also produced commercial glass for hotels and bars, as well as items like car headlights...
In 1958, Heisey was purchased by Imperial Glass Company, which continued to use Heisey’s molds through 1984. Glass made in those molds after 1958 can be confused with Heisey glass because of the similar designs, but the colors are different. Pre-1958 Heisey glass is also recognizable for its logo—an H inside of a diamond—on its pieces, though collectors have discovered that unmarked Heisey pieces also exist.
Affection for Heisey did not stop when it changed hands in ’58. In 1971, fans of Heisey formed a group called “Heisey Collectors of America.” Three years later, they founded a museum in Newark, Ohio, devoted to vintage Heisey glass.
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- Heisey Collectors of America, Inc.
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