Northwood Glass

Northwood Glass in the USA: A short explanation

Northwood glass in the USA was made at the glass factories of Harry Northwood, son of a famous English glass designer. Harry Northwood made many types and designs in glass, but is probably best known for his brilliant carnival glass, produced from 1908 to 1925, like the “grape and cable” plate shown here, probably, to quote Dave Doty, the most successful of all carnival glass patterns.

Carnival glass was only one of the highly successful Northwood products. In the 1890’s his factories started to make blown glass in opalescent blue, opalescent lemon, “rubina” (red at the top, clear below), ivory (beautiful pale type of custard glass), enamel decorated, etched, “spatter” glass, and many others. Later he introduced a major series of pressed glass patterns where the design was picked out in red or gold enamel. Northwood is also the dominant name associated with Goofus glass, where clear pressed glass has red, green and gold or silver enamel covering the entire back of the patterned item.

Born in 1860, Harry Northwood trained in England and emigrated to the USA with his cousin, Thomas Dugan, in 1881. After working at the Hobbs, Brockunier glassworks and other famous glass houses, Harry opened his first glass factory in 1887, the Northwood Glass Company, in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio. The firm moved to Ellwood, Pennsylvania in 1892, and went through a few difficult years until 1896 when Harry Northwood gave up and moved to Indiana Pa, to establish The Northwood Company in the glassworks of the former Indiana Glass Company.

The Northwood Company did very well for a few years, and was then sold to the huge National Glass Company in 1899. Part if this deal was that Harry Northwood would stay out of glass manufacturing for three years, in return for a salary as their sales agent in Longon.

The National Glass Company had a difficult time of operating their 19 different glass factories from a centralised Head Office. In 1902 they released Harry Northwood from his contract and its constraints, and he bought the old Hobbs Brockunier glassworks (closed since 1894) from them. This purchase was funded in part by a mortgage from the National Glass Company themselves, and in part by the Wheeling Board of Trade, who were so keen to encourage Harry Northwood to set up in their town that they raised a quarter of the purchase price of the glassworks for the new H. Northwood Company.

This new factory was a great success, starting with lemonade sets in opalescent poinsettia pattern in 1902 and continuing to make glassware until 1925, six years after Harry Northwood himself had died. During those 23 years they picked up and revived designs and colours from the earlier Northwood factories, and introduced a series of beautiful and highly successful new lines.

No history of Northwood Glass would be complete without mention of Carl Northwood, Harry’s brother, who worked by his side from the time he emigrated to the USA in 1892 until he died in 1918, just a year before Harry himself died. Carl was a very creative glass decorator, he took charge of the decorating department at the Wheeling plant, and also played a major role in sales. When the two brothers died within such a short space of time, the company was re-organised but survived for only a few years.