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, NrElectric Purple Imperial Grapes Carnival Glass Ruffled Bowl, NrOutstanding Electric Diamond Lace Carnival Glass TumblerVintage Imperial Carnival Glass Footed Bowl - Amethyst IridescentAntique Imperial Carnival Iridescent Glass Grape Cluster Large Bread Fruit Bowl Imperial Candlewick Puff Dish Set Of 6Carnival What A Way To Start The Week Off With This Electric Purple Double DutchOne Of A Kind! Fenton Smooth Rays Carnival Vase!! Starts @ $1.00 No Reserve!Vintage Imperial Glass Shoji Gold Barware Ice Bucket 1960's Hollywood RegencyImperial Scroll Embossed With Rare Rare Rare Hobstar And Tassel BackImperial Glass Candlewick Tall 72 Oz PitcherCambridge Imperial Hunt Scene On #1402 Tally Ho Blank 10oz GobletOld Imperial Frosted Iridescent Glass 5.5 Inch Vase (please Read Shipping Info)8 Vintage Imperial Glass Shoji Gold 5 3/4" 16 Oz Tumblers Hollywood RegencyVintage Imperial Glass White Milk Glass Turkey Candy Or Condiment Dish W/ CoverImperial Jewels Blown Iridescent Marigold #57 Glass Console Bowl Imperial GlassAntique Imperial Octagon Deep Marigold Carnival Glass Wine Decanter With StopperAntique Vintage Imperial Green Slag Glass Hen Chicken Rooster Toothpick Egg CupCarnival Glass.imperial Electric Purple Imperial Grape Bowl.Imperial Octagon Marigold Wine Stopper And Three Wine Glasses Circa 1910Vintage Imperial Glass Candlewick Cheese Tray/dish/plate & Dome CoverImperial Glass Company 1946 Calendar .Vintage Blue Diamond Cut Depression Glass Vase Imperial Blue Glass Free Shipp! Set Of 2 Mid Century Imperial Gold Chain Old Fashion Bar Glasses Tumblers 3 3/8"Imperial Candlewick Water Globet Set Of 4Imperial Green Slag Glass Owl Candy Dish Mint ConditionImperial Glass Beaded Relish Bowl With Spoon & Plate Cute!!Pretty Red Carnival Glass Toothpick Holder - Imperial FootedVintage Imperial Ripple 12 1/2" Marigold Carnival Glass VaseHeisey Glass Flying Mare, Lavender Ice Made By Dalzell VikingVintage Candlewick 4 Divided Relish Pickle Serving DishSet Of 6 Glasbake Crab Imperial/ Deviled Crab Baking Dishes Imperial Glass Purple Carnival Glass Vase 10 1/2 InchesSummit Carnival Glass Pitcher Electric Amethyst. No Chips Cracks Or Flea Bites. 6 Imperial Glass Sekai Ichi Tall High Ball Tumblers Hollywood Regency 24k GoldImperial Glass - One Quart Caramel Slag Pitcher - Stunning!Imperial Glass Marigold Carnival "hobstar" Covered Biscuit JarRare Heisey Glass (imperial) Cobalt Baby Pig Piglet StandingImperial Candlewick 4 3/4" 2 Handle Dessert Bowls(4) 400/472bGorgeous Antique Imperial Pansy Low Ruffled Bowl Or Plate In PurpleImperial Electric Blue Carnival Glass 10" Ruffled Top Loganberry VaseImperial Carnival Glass Vase 1911 Ripple In Marigold ColorVintage Carnival Glass Pansy By Imperial Ruffled Edge Fruit Bowl 9" PurpleVintage Imperial Glass 12" Beaded Bullseye Marigold Carnival Glass VaseLot Of 7 Vintage Candlewick Imperial Glass Plates 6 Of 8 1/4" And 1 Size 9"Vintage Imperial Carnival Glass Green/gold Hobstar Jar With LidEarly 20thc Blue Opaque Milk Glass Figural Swan 2pc Dish By ImperialFour Candlewick Bowls Cereal Fruit Imperial Glass Caramel Marble Slag Glass Covered Butter Cheese Dish. Beautiful!Set Of 3 Imperial Candlewick 7" Tall Martini Glasses - Excellent Condition!Imperial Carnival Glass Grape Handled Pickle DishImperial White Milk Glass Handpainted W/ Gold Beehive Honey Pot Covered DishImperial Blue Carnival Glass Lidded Compote Azure Beautiful!Imperial Carnival Glass Butter Dish W/ Domed Lid ~ Iridescent White ~ Gorgeous!Imperial/heisey Ipswitch 1/2 Pound Covered Candy In Heather (purple)Imperial Glass Co. € Imperial Candlewick Ruby Red 6 1/2" Rimmed BowlSet Of 2 Vtg Imperial Crystal Knife Rests LnImperial Orange/gold Carnival Glass Poppy Pattern Oval Scalloped Edge BowlEapg Clear Zippered Heart Clear Tumber Imperial Glass Co. Ca. 1906 Bellaire, Oh