Heisey Glass in the Depression Era

by Clarence W. Vogel
Rainbow Review Glass Journal - March 1973

One of the great events in our life was to meet Hazel Marie Weatherman at the Sanford, Florida Depression Glass Show last January. We talked a bit a bout Depression Glass and the Depression Era. In addition we had our picture taken by her daughter as we stood in the warm Florida sun. I agree with Mrs. Weatherman when she says that Heisey made glass in the Depression Era. And that is as far as anyone may go - especially for all those of us who collect Heisey glass. Heisey put a lot of work into the manufacturing of its glass, none of which was made by the machine method. Heisey is truly a hand-crafted glass all the way through, from 1896 to 1957. Every piece of it was individually molded and processed by hand.

And now dear reader may I refer you to the January issue of the Rainbow Review where our dear editor Ben Shaeffer has pubLished a letter submitted by the publisher of TRENDS. The definition for Depression Glass is well presented in the letter. As a collector and writer of Heisey glass, I wholeheartedly agree with it.

Since the Depression Era began about 1929 and ended about 1940, some have assumed that all glass made during this period was DEPRESSION glass. But to me, and all serious Heisey collectors, DEPRESSION glass is essentially a machine made glass of very inferior quality. Glass makers of that time made no claims for it being superior in quality. All through the Depression Era Heisey continued to make the best glass it had ever made. Most of the art glass produced by Heisey was produced between 1930 and 1940. The prized items of art glass in my collection were made during the time some other glass manufacturers were producing glass of very inferior quality.

At the Sanford Show I found it easy to pick out the Heisey items among the large quantities of machine made glass. One dealer had nothing but Heisey and Cambridge with a sprinkling of Fostoria on his table. Many commented about the rare beauty of the glass on display at that booth. The sparkle and brilliance at his tables was in marked contrast to that found at the all DEPRESSION glass tables. I will admit though, that there was a great deal o activity and buying of DEPRESSION glass. Some of the DEPRESSION glass buyers were taking large quantities of the machine pressed glass home with them.

Some of you Heisey enthusiasts may have noted the inconsistency in the articles extracted from THE NEWSCASTER. The first article on COLORS was written in Aug. 1972 and the second was written Jan 1971. In the older article I gave the date for Cobalt as 1930 and in the later article the date is given as 1932. The latter date is correct. In addition, since the article on COLORS was written, I want to take red off the list. Absolutely no red was ever used for commercial production. Any signed (marked) pieces of Heisey in red color were made by the Imperial Glass Corp. of Bellaire, Ohio. These are always items found in the Whirlpool No. 1503 pattern. We have seen items in this pattern offered by dealers for as high as $100.00 tumbler. In addition, a small toddy, similar to one made by Heisey has been found in red. But his item is not marked. Marked ones in Heisey have been found only in crystal; but the mould is slightly different from the one made in red.

Some items in the Tangerine color are often confused with red. Tangerine was a flashed (struck) glass, refired from yellow to tangerine. Sometimes the piece of glass was held in the fire longer than necessary and the color became a deep Tangerine or red color. These red items are in reality Tangerine items and invariably can be identified as such by the pattern. Some beer mugs made in the Heisey plant with attached red handles are known; but in this case the red was taken from some crucible size mixtures made by the company chemist. Mr. Olson, the company chemist from 1924-1957 has informed me that not enough red was ever made at one time to make anything larger than a handle or two on some beer mugs.