The Westmoreland Glass Company grew out of the Specialty Glass Company of East Liverpool, Ohio, which, in 1889, relocated to Grapeville, Pennsylvania, to take advantage of the area’s abundant supply of natural gas. By 1890, production of pitchers, goblets, tumblers, and glass novelty items was underway, overseen by two brothers named George and Charles West. With the backing of Ira Brainard from nearby Pittsburgh, the brothers soon bought out the Ohio founders and changed the firm’s name to the Westmoreland Specialty Company.

Operation of the factory ran smoothly for nearly 30 years. During this period, Westmoreland produced virtually every type of glassware, from inexpensive pressed glass to pricier cut glass. Disagreements between the two brothers eventually resulted in George leaving the company, which Charles ran on his own. Around the same time, the name was changed to Westmoreland Glass Company to eliminate the confusion among consumers about what a “specialty” company might actually produce—“glass” made the company’s mission crystal clear.

Throughout World War I, the Westmoreland Glass Company manufactured and distributed intricately molded, candy-filled glass jars in the shapes of automobiles, trains, and even revolvers to newsstands and dime stores across the U.S. The jars were made of high-quality milk glass, or opal, a signature material that distinguished Westmoreland glass from its competitors.

In the 1920s, Charles added a large decorating department to the factory’s output, which allowed for the distribution of impressive crystal and decorated ware. But it was milk glass that kept the company in the black. Indeed, an estimated 90 percent of all Westmoreland glass produced between the 1920s and ’50s was made of milk glass.

Thanks to their high level of craftsmanship, Westmoreland milk glass pieces were considered some of the finest examples of the material in the country. This reputation for quality is one reason the factory was not forced to close its doors during the Great Depression, a fate that befell so many of Westmoreland’s competitors.

One of Westmoreland’s most enduring products was a covered dish called Hen on Nest, which was manufacturers in numerous sizes. The earliest Hens were pressed from a more fragile (and more collectible) type of milk glass than the versions that followed. Early Hens can be distinguished from later ones because they were a pure milk-white; it was only later that the hen’s comb was colored bright red.

Along with the changing composition of its milk glass, the Westmoreland Glass Company’s marks evolved through the years. From 1910 to 1929, a “W” within a keystone was used to in...

By the 1950s, milk glass seemed the best financial bet for the company. Many of the patterns produced during that decade were designed to capitalize on the material’s earlier popularity. Among the most successful patterns were Paneled Grape, Old Quilt, Quilted, English Hobnail, Beaded Fruit, and American Hobnail. Paneled Grape in particular has remained a staple of Westmoreland collectors, who know that all it takes to transform a milk glass punch bowl from plain to extraordinary is a cluster of grapes in high relief on its side.

As the 1950s drew to a close, though, the popularity of milk glass waned. Westmoreland struggled through the 1970s, and by the time the 1980s rolled around, the company needed a new owner to stay afloat. The enthusiastic David Grossman purchased Westmoreland in 1981, but despite a valiant effort to revive the business, interest in the milk glass pieces Westmoreland specialized in just wasn’t there. On January 8, 1984, almost 100 years after its founding, the factory shut down production.

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    

Antique Milk Glass Brick House Mustard Jar WestmorelandSquare Cake Stand In Ring And Petal-milk Glass By WestmorelandWestmoreland English Hobnail Vintage Green Candy And 8 1/2" CandlesticksWestmoreland Peach Opal Large Scales Banana DishVintage 1960s Westmoreland White Milk Glass Nesting Bird Footed Candy Dish BowlRare 4 Pc Westmoreland Almond Custard Fairy Lamp Handpainted 6 3/4" TallVintage Westmoreland Milk Glass Santa On Sleigh Rare Westmoreland "stubby" 6" Handpainted Roses & Bows Wedding BowlVintage Westmoreland Ruby Red Cranberry Wedding Compote Candy Dish W/ LidWestmoreland Hand Painted Oriole Vaseline Art Glass Trinket BoxVintage Tagged Westmoreland Milk Glass Fruit Bowl Best!!Scarce Victorian Novelty Milk Glass Watering Can, WestmorelandVintage Table Utensil-mayo-jam Jelly Spoon-ladle-dipper-westmoreland Milk GlassWestmoreland Just A Thimble Full Shot Medicine Glass GreenBlue Glass Iridescent Blue Hobnail Salt & Pepper Shakers Vintage Westmorland Milk Glass Paneled Grape Punch Bowl Ladel Only Vhtf Item:)Purple Marble Color Glass HenVintage 1979 Westmoreland Ruby Red "mary Gregory" Open Lace Painted Dish PlateVintage Milk Glass White Nesting Eagle Bird Vintage Westmoreland Rooster Hen On Nest Caramel Butterscotch Slag Glass Westmoreland White Milk Glass Bowl Vase Compote English Hobnail DiamondWestmoreland Ring And Petal Banana BoatWestmoreland Glass Deep Blue Carnival Glass Hen On A Sleigh Candy Dish. Unused.Westmoreland Paneled Grape Milk Glass Gravy Bowl W Drip Tray~never UsedWestmoreland Milk Glass 14"t Large Round Covered Compote Sawtooth DiamondVintage Boyd Black Glass Hen On Nest Candy DishWestmoreland Candy Dish Compote Pedestal Ruby Red Clear Glass 5 1/4"Antique Westmoreland Glass 2-piece Beaded Grape Cigarette Dish - BoxWestmoreland Hand Painted Butterfly Vaseline Art Glass Trinket BoxSuper Tall! Westmoreland Paneled Grape #1881 White Milk Glass Cut Flower VaseTwo(2) Westmoreland Paneled Grape #1881 White Milk Glass Oval Pickle~relish Dish Vintage Westmoreland Forget Me Not White Milk Glass Lattice Flowers 11" PlateRare Westmoreland Glass Vaseline Princess Feather Green Water Goblet SetRare Vintage Westmoreland Antique/mint Green Sawtooth 10 3/4" Tall CompoteVintage Pink Westmoreland Thumbelina Miniature Punch Bowl Set, Mint ConditionWestmoreland Milk Glass Dolphin And Shell 3 Toed Covered Candy Bowl Two White Frosted Satin Glass Vases With Painted Bird Design & Painted RimImperial Red Slag Candy Dish And Candle HoldersWestmoreland Argonaut Shell Cone Shaped VaseVintage Westmoreland Sleigh Forest Green Candy Dish Rare!Authentic Westmoreland Milk Glass Grape And Leaf Pattern Footed Bowl-new Westmoreland Hand Painted Milk Glass Candle Sticks Vaseline Westmoreland GlassVintage Westmoreland Glass Flying Owl Figurine Amberina Red ColorWestmoreland~milk Glass~split Handle~basket~grapes~leaves~6.5" LongPair Of Westmoreland White Milk Glass Creamer & Sugar Old Quilt Pattern