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Duncan Glass Society celebrates 40th anniversary

Post Time:Jul 13,2015Classify:Company NewsView:491

Among the ruby glass pieces manafactured by Duncan & Miller Glass Co. that will be raffled at the National Duncan Glass Society’s annuall Convention, Show & Sale are Swan Candle Holders, Pal Mall Ducks and a Cheese and Cracker dish.

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The National Duncan Glass Society will celebrate its 40th anniversary with an expanded annual Convention, Show & Sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and July 19 at the Washington County Fair and Expo Center.

Duncan Miller glass was manufactured in Washington from the late 1800s to the mid-1950s. There are thousands of glass patterns that were designed and subsequently sold. It has become popular with glass collectors and is known around the world.

The Duncan Miller Society maintains and operates the Duncan Miller Museum on Jefferson Avenue in Washington. The annual show and sale is the primary fundraiser held to support the work of the museum.

The National Duncan Glass Society was formed in July 1975 to study and preserve the glassware manufactured by George Duncan & Sons, George Duncan’s sons and the Duncan & Miller Glass Co.

To help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the organization, a special display of ruby glass made by Duncan is on display at the museum. In addition, several ruby glass pieces will be raffled to three winne at the show.

On April 1, 1874, George Duncan and his wife, Agnes, formed the company as George Duncan & Sons by selling to their son, James E., and their daughter, Susan N. Duncan Heisey, 25 percent interest each in the glass factory and associated land for $1. The factory was located just two blocks from the Monongahela River, which provided easy and cheap access by barge for the sand, silica and potash needed to make glass.

John Ernest Miller joined George Duncan & Sons in 1874 as a mould shop superintendent and later became a designer in 1892. Miller worked for Duncan for 52 years, never missing a day of work. He retired at the age of 87.

In 1891, the U.S. Glass Co. formed a trust with the merger of several glass companies. Duncan joined this union, but it ended in 1892 when the plant was destroyed by fire. Both James Duncan and his brother-in-law decided to leave U.S. Glass and pursue separate interests. Heisey established his own glass house in Newark, Ohio.

James E. Duncan Sr., who became head of the firm in 1877 when George Duncan died, selected a site for a new factory on Jefferson Avenue in Washington. Gas was plentiful and cheap for the furnaces, and the B&O railroad ran through Washington to transport raw materials and glassware.

On Jan. 3, 1893, the new Washington plant opened, just a half block from where the museum is located. The period from 1893 to the closing of the plant in 1955 is generally known as the Duncan-Miller period, although the partnership structure was not changed until Nov. 15, 1900, when the firm was incorporated as Duncan & Miller Glass Co. At that time John Ernest Miller became a stockholder along with members of the Duncan family.

The method of making handmade glass at Duncan & Miller was not much different than that of the numerous small plants scattered in the tri-state area. Only the artistry of design, the skills of the workers, the batch formulas and the colors have distinguished its glass from others of the time. Most pieces required that 10 people handle each piece. Some, like the famous swan, which is considered one of the finest pieces ever produced by any firm, required 14.

All the work came to an abrupt end on June 13, 1955. Machines and assembly lines for making glassware were not cost-efficient, so the decision was made to close the plant. The remaining inventory was advertised for sale.

Most of the molds, machinery and equipment were sold to the U.S. Glass Co. to be used by their Duncan Division to make Duncan ware.

The plant was sold to the Andy Brothers, but before they could move in, a fire destroyed the building on June 29, 1956.

China Glass Network

Source: http://www.observer-reporter.com/article/20150712/Author: shangyi

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