The Imperial Glass Company was established in 1901 in Bellaire, Ohio. The company's first pieces were produced for the mass market for stores like Kresge's and McCrory's; they produced jelly glasses, pressed tumblers, butter dishes, pickle dishes, berry bowls, and a variety of other tableware.
With the introduction of machine-pressed glassware in 1910, the market expanded. Imperial Glass Company began producing "NUART" iridescent ware in colors of "rubigold, peacock, sapphire, rose satin, blue satin, iris ice, blue ice, and rose ice." The company began making "NUCUT" crystal ware, which was pressed glass made to reproduce early English pressed glass.
"Imperial Jewels," introduced in 1916, were free-hand iridescent "stretch glass" pieces. In 1922 the company imported a shop of Venetian glassmakers to what the company labeled Imperial "Art Glass." Catalogue 103G states on page 3-G, "these wares are covered with heavy deposits of various metal oxides, which make them nearly opaque in appearance. The enormous heat, necessary to develop these colors, cannot be regulated mathematically, and therefore there are scarcely two pieces alike, even when manufactured apparently in the same manner and under the same conditions." These pieces, mostly bowls, nappies, berry bowls, and nut bowls, are in colors of pearl green, pearl white, pearl ruby, and pearl amethyst.
The Depression and the influx of machine glass companies combined to push Imperial Glass Co. into bankruptcy in 1931, although the plant continued to operate after it went into receivership.
The company in 1940 started an acquisitions program and bought a series of other companies including the Central Glass Works of Wheeling, Virginia, (est. 1860). In 1958 Imperial Glass purchased molds from the Heisey Co. (est.1885) and bought the Cambridge Glass Co. (est. 1873). The firm became a subsidiary of Lenox China Inc. in 1973.
In June 1984 Imperial Glass went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The plant closed August 31, 1984, and the company's assets were taken over by Lancaster Colony Corporation, Columbus, Ohio.
Microfiche copies of sales catalogues and photographs. The catalogues and photos represent Imperial Glass stock from 1909-1940, with gaps.
The Imperial Glass Company Records, 1909-1912, Archives Center, National Museum of American History