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    

Electric Shell And Sand 7.5" Carnival Glass Bowl, Imperial, NrImperial Ripple Antique Carnival Art Glass 7" Squatty Vase~electric Purple~hot!Antique Imperial Marigold Carnival Glass ~ Zippered Loop ~ Oil LampImperial Grape Antique Carnival Glass 6" Plate~electric Purple~hot Iridescence!Electric Purple Imperial Grapes Carnival Glass Ruffled Bowl, NrVintage Imperial Glass Tradition Birthday Cake Plate . 72 Candle HolesOutstanding Cut Glass Goblet In Imperial, Signed Libbey, AbpVintage Imperial Carnival Glass Footed Bowl - Amethyst IridescentImperial Pansy Antique Carnival Glass Ruffled Bowl~sharp Electric Purple~hot!Carnival What A Way To Start The Week Off With This Electric Purple Double DutchImperial Scroll Embossed With Rare Rare Rare Hobstar And Tassel BackImperial Scroll Embossed Antique Carnival Ruffled Mid-sized Bowl~electric PurpleAntique Imperial Carnival Iridescent Glass Grape Cluster Large Bread Fruit Bowl One Of A Kind! Fenton Smooth Rays Carnival Vase!! Starts @ $1.00 No Reserve!Antique Imperial Octagon Deep Marigold Carnival Glass Wine Decanter With StopperAntique Vintage Imperial Green Slag Glass Hen Chicken Rooster Toothpick Egg CupVintage Imperial Candlewick Punch Bowl Set Punch Bowl Underplate 14 Footed CupsImperial Glass Candlewick Tall 72 Oz PitcherCandlewick PlatesVintage Imperial Glass White Milk Glass Turkey Candy Or Condiment Dish W/ CoverCarnival Glass.imperial Electric Purple Imperial Grape Bowl.Old Imperial Frosted Iridescent Glass 5.5 Inch Vase (please Read Shipping Info)Imperial Candlewick Punch Bowl With Underplate And 12 Cups Eapg Clear Zippered Heart Clear Tumber Imperial Glass Co. Ca. 1906 Bellaire, OhImperial Glass Company 1946 Calendar .Vintage Imperial Ripple 12 1/2" Marigold Carnival Glass VaseHeisey Glass Flying Mare, Lavender Ice Made By Dalzell VikingSet Of 2 Mid Century Imperial Gold Chain Old Fashion Bar Glasses Tumblers 3 3/8"Vintage Blue Diamond Cut Depression Glass Vase Imperial Blue Glass Free Shipp! Gorgeous Antique Imperial Pansy Low Ruffled Bowl Or Plate In PurpleLot Of 7 Vintage Candlewick Imperial Glass Plates 6 Of 8 1/4" And 1 Size 9"12 Imperial Candlewick 8'' Dessert/salad /luncheon PlatesImperial/heisey Ipswitch 1/2 Pound Covered Candy In Heather (purple)Vintage Carnival Glass Pansy By Imperial Ruffled Edge Fruit Bowl 9" Purple9 Footed Candlewick Dessert Bowls By Imperial Glass!7 Imperial Candlewick Glass Goblets Stems Water ChampagnesVintage Imperial Glass Deep Ruby/cranberry Berry Bowl Dish Set 5 Pc DepressionImperial Open Rose Amethyst Purple Carnival Glass Bowl4 Imperial Glass Old Williamsburg Pattern Deep Blue Ultra 5" TumblersImperial Blue Carnival Glass Lidded Compote Azure Beautiful!Imperial Glasss Laced Edge Ruby Red Pressed Glass Salad PlateElegant Depression Glass Imperial Candlewick Tall Cruet Oil Or VinegarVintage Imperial Ruby Red Slag Glass Rooster Toothpick Holder Egg Cup CandleSet Of 2 Imperial Diamond Columns Carnival Glass Bowls 1 Large 1 SmallImperial Glass, Windmill Marigold Carnival Glass Pitcher & 4 TumblersSet Of 2 Mid Century Imperial Gold Shoji Hi Ball Bar Glasses Tumblers 5 3/4"Collectors Guild Amber Lion Covered Trinket Box, Heisey By Imperial, With LidEapg Sun Purple Vase Imperial Glass Thunderbolt 12 1/2 InchRare Fenton Butterflies Bon BonSet Of 8 Each Imperial Glass Old Williamsburg Brown Water / Wine Footed Goblets Imperial Candlewick Oval Serving Platter 8 Vtg Imperial Glass Candlewick Nut Cups 2 3/4" GreatVintage Imperial Carnival Glass Punch Bowl Stand Sterling Silver Glass Pedestal Cake Plate Hobnail Trim Base Crystal PlateImperial Glass Co. €1970 Imperial Glass 1st Day Of Christmas Plate Cobalt BlueHeisey By Imperial Glass Glossy Horizon Blue Cygnet 1980 HcaElegant Depression Glass Imperial Candlewick Tall Cruet For Oil Or Vinegar No 2Heisey By Imperial Glass Satin Finish Horizon Blue Cygnet 1980 HcaImperial Orange/gold Carnival Glass Poppy Pattern Oval Scalloped Edge Bowl