Libbey Glass Company - Machine Made Stemware

by Virginia Scott
Glass Review - February 1979

In 1938, Libbey Glass Company became the world's first producer of machine-made stemware. The new process made it possible to mass-produce and distribute high quality stemmed tableware at low prices, thereby Libbey Ads putting this lovely type of glassware within reach of most households and consumers.

Libbey began to pack boxed sets of table glassware, "Hostess Sets," in 1942. (See my January 1979 article.) "Hostess Sets" at first consisted of decorated tumblers. A little later, matching stemware was also packed in boxed sets. Early "Hostess Sets" were put up in assortments of sizes with twelve, sixteen or twenty-four piece sets. Later sets were usually four, six or eight pieces of one shape or size boxed together.

The illustration at the end of this article shows parts of four early ads for machine-made stemware. The earliest ad found showed "Stardust" stemware (No. 1). "Stardust" was designed by Freda Diamond who was described in the ad as "one of today's outstanding designers of home furnishings" (No. 2). The "Stardust" ad appeared in 1949 and was a double-page spread which showed four items of the pattern in actual size. The pattern was described as "An expensively detailed, crystal-brilliant glass" which had never before been offered at "such a popular price." "Thanks to Freda Diamond," the ad continues, "this new pattern has the rare quality of utter simplicity-fragile looking, but oh-so-practical." Four styles of glasses were offered: a water-beverage goblet; a parfait-juice; a sherbet-champagne; and a wine-cocktail. The ad carefully noted that "each glass serves a double purpose and saves storage space; and would make "an impressive, practical gift."

The "Stardust" stemware ad was followed in early 1950 by a full-page ad for "Laurel Classic" (No. 3), another Freda Diamond design. It seems that "Classic" is the name given to the basic shape or "blank" of the glass which has a ribbed ball in the low stem; "Laurel" refers to the decoration, a laurel leaf cut design. The 1950 ad shows four kinds of stemware and four shapes of matching tumblers (No. 7). Later ads show also a cordial and a tall pilsner glass in "Classic" style. The shape was a very popular one and is shown in ads into the late 1960s with various cuttings and decorations. Another 1950 ad shows "Rose Classic" (No.4) with white satin roses and 22k gold ribbons. Later ads show "Classic" glasses with mitre-cutting and cut stars. I have also found it decorated with "American Antiques," "Treasure Island," "Emeralds" and "Golden and Silver Foliage," a leaf design in gold or silver on a band of pearly frosting.

No.5 shows another Libbey stem of 1950, "Crystal Leaf." The ad proclaims this pattern as "an exquisitely detailed cut-glass stemware designed by Freda Diamond." It was made in eight sizes as shown in No. 6. The blank has a classic columned stem with knobs at the top and bottom of each rib. This blank, for which I could not find a name, was also sold undecorated.

Ads are used by permission of Libbey Glass Division, Owens-Illinois, Inc., Toledo, Ohio.