Mosser Glass Company

by Jabe Tarter
Rainbow Review Glass Journal - February 1975

The Mosser Story of Thomas Mosser Glass Co. in Cambridge, Ohio, begins in the defunct Cambridge Glass Co. There is history and the romance of fine glass making in the Mosser Family whether in pharmaceutical glass or the beautiful crystals, opaques and paperweights coming from the present day factory at Route 22, exit 10 in Cambridge.

Tom's father was one of the old time glass workers in the Cambridge Glass Co. And at one time he was manager of the glass shop. Tom, the youngest of a family of ten children, worked with his father long enough to learn all the rudiments of making fine glass. "To make fine glass, one must use fine ingredients," says Tommy, "and we have yet to sacrifice quantity for quality."

"Some of our wares are reproductions, such as the swan salt dip, slipper and other small salts. But part of our molds are of our own imagination and choosing."

Soon after the closing of the Cambridge Glass Co. in 1954, when it closed the first time, there was already a dream to put to good use, the ideas, formulas and working knowledge garnered in the Cambridge Glass Company. After the final closing of the famous glass house in l958, the dream was so close as to almost be a realization then.

The first plant was built in cooperation with Mary Margaret Mitchell, the former secretary to the president, A. J. Bennett and then Mr. Orme, the owner and succeeding president of the Cambridge Glass Co. At first it was not intended to be anything in competition with the items formerly coming from the now defunct Cambridge Glass Co. The articles were medical and pharmaceutical glass. And almost the entire output was for those purposes.

But the building of the first plant didn't take into consideration the fertile imagination of Tommy. It wasn't long before he was dreaming dreams of having a plant for the sole purpose of producing art glass in opaques and crystal.

Mosser items Starting with a few molds and the gaffer's bench (the bench on which the worker makes the paperweights and finishes off the pressed pieces). Colors were not difficult to achieve because of the working knowledge acquired in the Cambridge Glass Co.

Armed with books of formulas from the defunct plant, the imagination and ability to work long and hard, Tommy started with paperweights of magnum size. There were name weights originally. But colored weights cut by Sid Garret took form under his able hands.

He already knew how to gather the glass on the punty rods. He also knew the methods of blowing and working in the blow pipe department. So the building of furnaces, installing presses and working out the formulas were the important parts of his beginning.

This is not to say that starting a glass house is a shoe string sort of venture. It is far from that. But the fact that one knows how to mix a batch of glass from scratch from a formula is something great in his favor. And if one can read, he can mix, if he knows the names of the chemicals and the amounts to be used for a particular color of glass.

Along with a building to house the glass works there are furnaces to be built for melting the glass. Lehrs must he bought and installed. And in the case of Mosser glass, there must be the polishing table to be bought and installed. This is a round ring with numerous turntables about six inches wide. As the glass is placed on the turntables around the ring, they rotate against a gas jet burning off the hard or sharp corners. They actually polish the glass.

In the course of about four years, the Mosser Glass Co. has grown from a single tank place to a large business. There are now two day tanks capable of turning out hundreds of pieces of glass in a single day. The employees are knowledgable and each movement is for a purpose. They have all the grace in their pressing and taking the glass from the tanks of molten glass of a well bred filly in a race. And each piece is as well pressed as though it contained pure gold.

The lehr in the Mosser plant is one of the longest ones for a smaller glass house. It was bought and installed more than a year ago. And it is capable of handling as much glass as two tanks and two presses can produce in a single day.

There is not the great run of colors in the Mosser plant. But Tommy is a young man, more interested in building his business in worthwhile glass than in producing a myriad of colors for the "few at a time" buyer.

One of the most interesting of all the pieces coming from the Mosser plant is the newer owl. It is about six inches tall, seated on a base with fluffy feathers indicative of the barn owl. There was one, taken in form from the one carved on the steps of the Ohio State Office Building in Columbus, Ohio. It is popular in its coy, side-glancing way and adds much to one's collection.

In these years of the Bi-Centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Mosser has contributed his share to the objects of beauty for the collector of such souvenirs. There is the cup plate with the Liberty Bell, a small replica of the actual Liberty Bell, and a bell with clapper depicting the Bi-Centennial. Each is a collectors item in its own right.

The two Fairy lamps, the Wall Eyed one and the Christmas Holly are popular for night lights. And the toothpick holders in seven different patterns are quite worth while.

There are three different shoes. And it is reported a boot match holder will soon be in the making. The Robin Mug and Turkey toothpick are so popular as to have been chosen by the Hanson Brothers, of superior iridizing fame, to use as a part of their collection by the Hanson Brothers of iridized pieces.

Almost everyone has seen the thimble advertised in the LeVay Outlet stores. It has the words, "Just A Thimbleful," and has reference to those who just want a thimbleful when they ask for a drink - they never say how large the thimble should be!

Door knobs from the old Sandwich Glass patterns in several colors are a part of the Mosser collection.

The color gamut of the Mosser plant range from electric blue to cobalt. There are several shades of green, amber and amethyst. Ruby. amberina and crystal together with some opaques and milk white complete the color range. But they are such vivid colors and the pieces are so interestingly made as to be pleasing to the eye whether there are five or fifty molds, and as many colors.

There is a differentiation between a glass worker and a glass maker. The glass maker is one who mixes the glass, shovels it into the heated furnace for melting and then bringing it up to the point of working properly.

Apparently, Tommy knew all this before he opened his plant. His glass is always of the right degree of temperature and because his molds are always hot, and the glass just at the right temperature, there is little waste.

A glass worker is the one or ones who take the glass after it has been properly mixed, shoveled in and melted to the right degree and presses it or molds it into the desired forms. It would be a tossup which is the more important. But without a glass maker, there would be no glass workers.

"We try to add at least one and perhaps two new molds a year, use the finest materials available, albeit expensive, and to build a glass factory to he proud of."

The three cup plates have found favor with the buying public. The Last Supper plate, the Mayflower plate and the Bi-Centennial Liberty plate have come on strong. In addition, some of the Cambridge molds, as well as few copies such as the hound dog, are quite popular.

Not all the Mosser glass is signed. But his signature, a small "M" within a circle is recognized for its quality and clarity. Eventually, all items will bear his signature.

The Mosser Glass Company is recognized as one of the finest glass houses of the latter 20th Century.