Clear Beauty in Westmoreland County Pressed Glass

Just outside of Pittsburgh, in Westmoreland County, lies rolling hills, friendly people... and a tradition of beautiful quality glass-making.

Not being a Pittsburgh native myself, my initial thrifting endeavors led me to wonder just how it was that I kept uncovering so many marvelous lustrous pressed glass pieces...

Dainty daisy-pressed carnival glass shoes... Iridescent moonstone hobnail bottles... shimmery pink or purple or aqua bowls...

And all typically between $6-$20 for these artistic-looking pieces!

Well, it turned out that beginning in the 19th century, Western Pennsylvania was an important hub for American glass-making and was home to Westmoreland Glass, Empire Glass, L.E. Smith Glass and the McKee-Jeannette Glassworks, among others.

L.E. Smith Glass, in Mount Pleasant, PA, has been making American pressed glass since 1907, and the style continues to have that turn-of-the-century look.


You can see the stylized "S" mark above. Both the two tall vases, and the shoe on the right-hand side are Smith pieces...As are this candy dish, and the bright aqua bowl here...
Interestingly, Smith Glass and Fenton of West Virginia are the only glass works from that era that continue to operate in the region today. Fans of pressed glass can even visit the Smith factory for tours. You can check out their web site by clicking here. I haven't gotten a chance to do the tour yet myself, but I think I need to take some time this spring to see the birthplace of much of my favorite glassware!

The Kovels Guide indicates that Westmoreland Glass was in operation from 1890 until 1984, in Grapeville, PA. These pieces bear an overlapping WG mark...
Like Smith Glass, the pieces are often thick pressed glass in a variety of colors and cut-glass-styled patterns. My favorites have a rainbow luster shimmer like this little candydish I'd thrifted...


This bowl alone weighs several pounds. I imagine so much Westmoreland and other pressed glass exists today because of its thick, durable consistency...
This little crystal tophat is also a Westmoreland piece.
I wasn't able to find a mark on this marigold carnival piece, but I suspect it, too, began life in Westmoreland County...
So while current prices for this type of glass-- at least in my region-- are very affordable, it doesn't make these pieces less desirable to me.

And if you're a fan of turn-of-the-1900s collectibles, you might just want a piece of Westmoreland County glass in your own home, to carry on that period feel!

Happy hunting!

13 comments:

The Lucy and Dick Show said...

I always gravitate to the colored glass pieces and always fondle them when I see them in the thrift shops. I have so many pieces, I don't bring them home anymore, but yours are lovely!

Lois said...

Jenn,
What beautiful pieces they are.
Your home must look like a rainbow when you have all the pieces out.
Have a great week.
Lois

Joanne Kennedy said...

I like pressed glass and you are right, it still can be found for a good price. But, I'm sure soon that will be a thing of the past so people who like it should get it now while bargins can still be found.

Hugs,
Joanne

Linda said...

I love these glass pieces. I have been trying to learn more about these different types of glass and your post has helped. I would love to come thrift with you and find just a few of these beauties!

Glass Bottles said...

Jenn,

It is always so great to check out your blog and hear about all of the great things you find. This was no exception... Keep it up!

Jenn Thorson said...

Ah, Lucy, you little glass-fondler you! :)

Lois- Heh, with the weather we've been having, we need all the color we can get!

Joanne- Probably true. I don't have any information on which pressed glass is considered more collectible than others-- though, I admit, I just select my pieces by the colors and shapes that draw me in.

Linda- Oh, that would be fun. I wish I had more information to impart with you, but I don't actually have any collector's books on the subject yet.

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble said...

Beautiful pieces of pressed glass!
Debbie-Dabble

Colleen said...

These finds are jaw-dropping beautiful! I agree with Linda... I'd be tickled-pink to go on a thrift hunt with the Romantic Pro! Just gather up a few of us locals for an exciting thriftin' afternoon, and I'll buy lunch! Really appreciate all the extra info regarding your gems.

Carrie said...

Thanks for a fascinating lesson...these pressed glass pieces are each lovely. I especially enjoy baskets.

Tolentreasures said...

When you plan that thrifting outing, I am in! I would love to see all of your places that you go. I love all the glass, but with four grandchildren under four years old, it is not time for that yet!

Cathy

Jenn Thorson said...

Debbie- Thank you muchly!

Colleen- Aw, you folks have a knack of making me feel like a million bucks. With so many folks sounding up for a joint thrifting adventure, maybe I'll have to think about how we could accomplish that once our weather is less snow-encrusted.

Carrie- The baskets are less common, I think, than some of the bowls.

Tolent- Oh, I can imagine. Curious little fingers and glass do not mix. :)

Ibn Hanif said...

Jenn,
I'm visiting your blog for the 1st time.
This glass work is really amazing.
Thanks for introducing.

eYeWitness

Anonymous said...

L. E. Smith did not manufacture glass. They owned their own molds and had various glass companies make the glass pieces for them. I'm looking at your pink glass basket in the picture appearing in the first picture on top. I've got one identical to it. You must also have a kind of daisy handler mark I'm gong to guess. Because this basket is in the style of glass baskets made by Westmoreland, I'm wondering if perhaps it was a piece commissioned by L. E. Smith. Fenton also did some glass for L. E. Smith. I have another basket that has a handler's mark just like the one I have like yours. That basket also looks like a piece that was done by Westmoreland. L. E. Smith, while the pieces were similar to pieces done by the glass companies that they commissioned to do their glass - they seem to be more plain and have less detail then the companies would do for their own glass pieces.