Verlys Art Glass

by Orva Heissenbuttel
Rainbow Review Glass Journal - December 1973

"Heisey's rich cousin" - that's how Wayne McPeek, author of Verlys of America Decorative Glass, describes the molded decorative glass made in Newark, Ohio from 1935 to 1951.

Wayne McPeek and his wife Carole were born and raised in Newark, but did not become interested in the glassware made in their hometown until 1970. "I imagine every house in Newark had Heisey glass, and having gone to school with some of the Heisey family, it was taken for granted," says Wayne. Married in 1955, it was not until 1970 that they joined other local collectors looking in antique shops and shows for Heisey glass -- then they began noticing pieces of Verlys glass.

By coincidence, Wayne discovered that this beautiful sculptured glass had been made by the Holophane Lighting Company {one of the largest manufacturers of glass lighting fixtures in the U.S.), where he is employed as Production Control Manager. The plant is located just across the street from the Heisey glass factory.

Very little has been written about this type of art glass, which was first introduced by René Lalique of France in the early 1900s. Its beauty depends on the sculptured design, which was molded in either clear or colored glass. It was then made opalescent, or given an acid etched finish to heighten the sculptured effect.

Verlys glass was made in France beginning in 1931, then in 1935 Verlys of America was established as a wholly owned subsidiary of Holophane. While some molds were purchased from the French company, several popular Verlys of America pieces were designed for them by three renowned American artists. Some of these can be found signed and dated by the artist. Popular designs included birds, fish, flowers, leaves and Oriental motifs. Colors were amber, topaz, blue and rose.

After production of Verlys ceased at the Holophane Company in 1951, some of the molds moved across the street when the Heisey Company leased the molds and made several items in clear glass and one color from l955 to 1957. The molds are now owned by the Fenton Art Glass Company which has made several of the items - but none in clear or the original colors. Harold Bennett's Guernsey Glass Co., Cambridge, 0hio, has made amber copies of the Greek Horse ash tray.

The Verlys pieces made by Heisey were unsigned, but those made by Holophane were marked, as were the Fenton pieces. When the McPeeks were unable to find any information on Verlys, they researched it and decided to share with other collectors. Their book, published in 1972 has four beautiful color plates and describes and lists all the pieces made by Holophane and Heisey. It also contains a complete catalog of all the Verlys pieces made in Newark, the colors and production periods. Their book is a must for identifying the decorative art glass made in Newark - and it was expensive even then.

A close study of the McPeek book is a must for the serious collector of the type of glass first made popular by Lalique, later by Verlys. [Ordering information omitted]