Posted 6 years ago
Imperial Glass Company (1904-1984) of Bellaire, Ohio made Free Hand Ware for less than two years. Free Hand was introduced in 1923. A June 7th, 1923 article in the Crockery & Glass Journal heralded "New Imperial Line Rivals World's Finest Glassware" and a design patent for the FH paper label was obtained on December 12th, 1923.
This art glass was the fulfillment of the two decade dream of Victor Wicke, President of Imperial from 1910 until his death in 1929. His goal was to add a profitable "art glass" line to Imperial's prodigious output of utilitarian wares. Wicke was always attuned to the public's ever-changing tastes in glassware. He was a sophisticated business man as well. Knowing that Quezal was using skilled immigrants to create art glass similar to that of the great European glass houses, e.g. Loetz Witwe & Sons, he wanted to compete for a share of that market. He reasoned that retail store buyers would "Buy American" if they not only got a comparable quality product, but also got it cheaper and quicker than shipments from Europe.
Although of artistic merit, Free Hand was not a financial success and production stopped in December, 1924.
Free Hand decors can be grouped into thirteen categories: Abstract, Cut Crystal, Drag Loop, “King Tut”, Leaf & Vine, Lily Pad & Vine, Verre de Soie, Mirrored, Lustred , Stretch, Threaded, Spider Webbing and Undocumented
The four examples shown here are:
1. Free Hand #247, “Leaf & Vine” Décor, 8.75 inches tall
2. Free Hand # Unknown, “Abstract” Décor, 8.25 inches tall
3. Free Hand #10, “Lustred” Décor (with Carnival Glass colors), 8.00 inches tall
4. Free Hand # Unknown, “Leaf & Vine” Décor, 6.5 inches tall