Dunbar Glass

by Virginia Scott
Glass Review - June 1978

Recently, I was looking through some 1933 magazines and was very much surprised to come across two ads for Dunbar Glass Corporation. So far as I can remember, these are the only Dunbar ads I have ever found so I thought our readers might be interested in seeing them also. The illustrations (at end of article) are the pictures from the two ads. Due to limited space, most of the text had to be omitted.

Dunbar is one of the lesser known glass companies although it operated from 1913 to 1953. It started out as a very small company which made lamp chimneys. Later production was expanded and good quality glassware, much of it in color, was made during the Depression days. Dunbar's specialty was refreshment sets which featured pitchers and glasses. They were also known for their liquor service and cocktail sets. (Reference: Weatherman Book II.)

The illustrations from the two Dunbar ads show cocktail and liquor sets which, according to the ads, are "wrought in glass by that whimsical craftsman, John Held, Jr." The texts for the ads were rather amusing, as shown by this quote from the ad on the right: "Can you look your guests in the eye when you serve them highballs in nondescript iced-tea glasses, milk mugs and jam jars? If you can, our leather-lunged glass-blower, John Held, Jr., is wasting his breath. (Cries of 'No, No, A thousand times No!' All right then, Mr. Held, resume blowing.)."

The ad on the left, shows "crystal ware amusingly decorated with Gay Nineties characters. Witty{?) sayings such as "Happy Days," "Here's mud in your eye" and "Home, James" (for the carriage) accompanied the figures, some of which are shown in detail at upper left. The tall pitcher is called an "Empire Stately Churn" in the ad. It is 16 inches high and holds a half gallon. The ad proudly announces, "An absurdly low price of $12.50 puts this churn in your home, ready for the fray."

For the depression year of 1933, the prices in the Dunbar ads seem to be rather steep. In addition to the $12.50 churn the ad reveals that the footed cocktail glasses and old-fashioned glasses were "only $9 for 6" as were the 6 inch plates. Tumblers and highball glasses were $7.50 while 8 inch plates were $10 and 10 inch plates were $12 -- all prices for 6 pieces.

The second at, right, shows John Held decorations in the best 1920s tradition. "At the bottom," the ad explains, "you see the 'Happy Daze' set of highball glasses decorated in the famous Hot-Cha manner, ... Oh, yes the price -- $7.50 for the set of 6 highballs; $4 for the ice tub and tongs; $3 for the decanter." Hot-Cha sayings on the glasses include "Hip-Hip," "Hacha-cha," "Hoo-Rah," "Sweet Music" and "Down the hatch."

It wouldn't be too surprising to find a few of these "Gay Nineties" and "Happy Daze" items still around. Now if you see them, perhaps you will be able to recognize them for what they are -- blown, hand-decorated glass items which were expensive back in the depression days.

Dunbar 1933 Ads