In 1901, J. N. Vance founded the New Crystal Glass Company in Bellaire, Ohio, with the help of Edward Muhleman. By December of that year, the new company’s name had changed to Imperial Glass Company, and Imperial’s new furnace produced its first glass in January 1904. From 1904 to 1909, Imperial targeted mass consumers with glassware items like tumblers, as well as jelly jars and lamp shades. Many of these items were imitations of cut glass, known as near-cut.

The company grew quickly. In 1905, new Sales Manager Victor G. Wicke sealed a wholesale deal with F. W. Woolworth Co. By 1907, its two furnaces were producing nearly at capacity. Imperial took its next step toward success in 1909 when it introduced its first lines of carnival glass, prompted in part by similar moves by Fenton, a nearby glass firm. Its first color of carnival glass was Rubigold (known today as marigold), and the line became Imperial’s most popular thus far, selling well both in the U.S. and abroad, until it was discontinued in the late 1920s.

In 1911 and 1912, Imperial introduced its Nucut and Nuart lines, respectively. Nucut was a line of imitation cut glassware, which was popular at the time; the Nuart line imitated Tiffany glass and was produced at first as lamp shades and later as vases.

Always attempting to respond to market trends, Imperial took a leap of faith into the growing art glass market in the 1920s. In 1923, Imperial released its Free Hand line, which was designed by art glass experts from the Netherlands. These pieces came in multiple colors and were extremely expensive, which contributed to their poor sales. Imperial released its Lead Lustre and Satin Iridescent Colors art glass lines in 1924 to help drive its art-glass sales, but Imperial never found success in this market, and Free Hand was discontinued in 1928. Today, however, these pieces are extremely collectible.

With the coming of the Depression, Imperial took a huge economic blow, as did many of its competitors. In February 1931, the company filed for bankruptcy and was reorganized in August as the Imperial Glass Corporation, with Earl W. Newton as its first president.

Under the leadership of Newton—with the help of designer Carl W. Gustkey—Imperial rebounded. In 1936, responding to the increasing popularity of elegant glass, Imperial released what would become its most successful line: Candlewick. The name was inspired by a Colonial-style needlework technique called candlewicking, and the design featured colorless pieces with small decorative glass beads around the top of each piece. By the 1950s, Imperial was producing more than 200 items in the Candlewick line, which was competing with Fostoria’s American line and Cambridge’s Rosepoint.

Around the same time as the introduction of Candlewick, Imperial began producing a line that would become almost as successful—Cape Cod. Newton secured a deal with Quaker Oats to...

The 1950s brought increasing scarcity of resources and stiff competition from cheap foreign glassware. As it moved into the 1960s, Imperial hoped to maintain its footing by reissuing some of its old lines, including some of its carnival glass. These new lines included New Carnival and Collectors Crystal.

But a sour economy and continued competition ultimately got the best of Imperial. In 1973, it became a subsidiary of New Jersey’s Lenox, Inc. Eight years later, New York investor Arthur Lorch bought Imperial from Lenox, but his inexperience in glass did not help the company’s fortunes. In 1982, Imperial was sold again to investor Robert Stahl and finally went out of business in 1984.

In its long life, Imperial created a vast array of products—more than 700 decorative and table pieces, including vases, bowls, candlesticks, dishes, jars, and baskets, along with 15 full lines of tableware. Many of its vases featured its signature heart-and-vine motif. In addition to Cape Cod and Candlewick, Star Holly (introduced in 1951) and Imperial Jewels (introduced 1916) were also quite successful.

Imperial created a handful of trademarks for its pieces over the decades, but two are more common and distinctive than the rest. The first was the Imperial Iron Cross, which appeared in 1913 on the No. 582 Fancy Colonial pattern. This mark is the intersection of two arrows at 90-degree angles, with the word IMPERIAL divided into four parts—“IM,” “PE,” “RI,” and “AL”—spaced around the two arrows. The second mark was introduced in 1951: an “I” superimposed over a “G.” Still, not all pieces are marked, so collectors should take other factors into consideration when trying to identify Imperial.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Pattern Glass School

Pattern Glass School

If you need schooling on Victorian-era pressed glass tableware aka EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) aka Pattern … [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Imperial Diamond & Sunburst Antique Carnival Art Glass Wine Cordial~lavender! Imperial Glass Scroll And Flower Panels Carnival Glass Vase In Smoke Nr!! Toothpick Holder, Tapered Bulge, May Be Mt WashingtonImperial Purple Scroll Embossed Tiny Carnival Glass Sauce/berry Bowl File ExtImperial Candlewick Pitcher With Ice Lip-80 Oz.---400/24Vintage Imperial Glass Square Footed Cake Stand Plate . Cape Cod Pattern474 Water Pitcher And Tumbler/ MarigoldImperial Candlewick 3 Piece Jam JarVintage Imperial Beaded Bullseye Dark Purple Carnival Glass Vase#1 Imperial Glass Scroll Embossed Bowl Electric Purple UnmarkedImperial Star Of David Antique Carnival Art Glass Ruffled Bowl~scarce Marigold!Vintage Toril De Oro Flat Tumber Gold By Imperial Glass-ohio Set Of 06 Imperial Ripple Very Scarce Squat Carnival Gass Vase~rare Amber! Hot!#2 Imperial Glass Scroll Embossed Bowl Electric Purple UnmarkedCandlewick Crystal Water GlassesCarnival Beautiful Marigold Thin Rib And Drape Miniature VaseImperial Candlewick 10.5" Dinner Plate In Perfect Mint ConditionImperial Cathay Jade Dynasty Shang Candy Dish With Lid - RareSet Of 8 Imperial Glass Candlewick 4 1/2" Butter Pats Or Bun Plates - Great CondCarnival Wonderful And Scarce Shape Boggy Bayou Candy Ribbon Edge Bowl6 Imperial Candlewick Water Goblets, 4 Ball Stem, 7 1/2" TallSet Of 4 Elegant Vintage Imperial Glass Candlewick Stemmed Wine/water GlassesRare Vintage Chocolate Caramel Slag Glass Covered Fish Candy Dish Imperial?Antique Vintage Imperial Glass Marked Ig Ruby Red Carnival Toothpick Holder4-imperial Candlewick Footed Goblet-10 Oz.---400/190Field Flowers Imperial Carnival Glass Tumbler Electric Blue On Purple Glass Vtg Marigold Iridescent Carnival Glass Punch Bowl Base Imperial Fashion PatternAntique Scarce Atterbury Purple Slag Glass Lion Marked Pat Aug 6, 1889 Lid Top Imperial Scroll Embossed Antique Carnival Mid-sized Ruffled Bowl~electric PurpleVintage Imperial Shoji 24kgold Trellis Old Fashioned Rocks 4 Glasses Shoji D'oroHard Too Find Smoke Fashion Carnival Glass Creamer By Imperial, NrImperial Candlewick 4 Pc Condiment Set, 6 Oz Oil Cruet, S&p Shakers With TrayVtg Depression Glass Plate Katy Blue Imperial Lace Edge Salad PlateVintage Imperial Glass Diamond Point Opalescent Glass BowlImperial Glass Robbins Pitcher (singing Birds) Iridescent Purple Carnival Glass.Imperial Candlewick, Oval Divided Jam And Butter Dish Pattern 400/262Vintage Imperial Octagon 8" Marigold Carnival Glass PitcherVintage Duncan & Miller Glass Butter Dish Teardrop Candlewick Rogers Bros SilverRare Imperial Purple Amethyst Pin Wheel Spiked Rim Carnival Glass BowlVintage Imperial Clear Iridescent Carnival Glass Jar Base, Hexagon Canister 24% Lead Imperial Crystal Vase, Great Design Slovakia - Heavy 7" Tall X 4" Wide Imperial Sign By Lenox Old Imperial Pansy Carnival Glass Pickle Dish Green/gorgeous Color/quilting8 Imperial Candlewick Water/wine Goblets, 4 Ball Stem, 7 3/8" TallVintage Imperial Amethyst/purple Slag Glass Swans-depression Glass-c. 1960'sSet Of 3 Vintage Imperial Candlewick Glass Heart Shaped Nesting Candy Nut DishesVintage Imperial Candlewick? - Serving Platter & Bowl Set Classy, Stunning!!!!Candlewick Imperial Glass Covered Candy DishImperial Candlewick Lot Of 2 Water Wine Glasses ~ 7 1/4" 9oz 4 Ball Stem Vintage Carnival Glass Marigold Jeannette Or Imperial Crackle Candy Dish Candlewick CompoteVtg Imperal Glass Candlewick Heart Shaped Bowl W/finger Handle 400/40hGlass - Candlewick Bowl - 7" X 2" - DividedVintage Imperial Red Slag Glass Grape Vine Crimped Edge Fancy Fruit BowlVintage Candlewick Glass Egg Plate Tray Dish With Handle Excellent Condition5 Vintage Pastel Candlewick Imperial Glass 8" Lunch Plates ~ Beautiful ~ UsaAntique 1897 Eapg Imperial Glass-diamond Lace Butter Bell Dish - #434 1/2-lovelyComplete Set Of 6 Imperial Diamond Quilted Pink 8" Luncheon Plates Vtg Retro Mcm Heavy 2 Marble Imperial Swirl Slag Glass Ashtrays Smoke VgcVintage Imperial Carnival Glass Pink 5" Art Deco Style Bowl