Heisey is beautiful art glass. Produced between 1896 through 1957, homemakers loved its versatility, affordable price, and elegance it brought to their tables and homes.
Made exclusively in Newark, Ohio, a museum was built and recently expanded to showcase its history and the many product lines by the Heisey Collectors of America, Inc. (HCA). The museum is also in Newark.
The National Heisey Glass Museum was built in this Licking County city in 1972 to display and promote the study of the A.H. Heisey & Company products for HCA members and others interested in studying decorative art.
The A.H. Heisey Company produced fine-quality pressed and blown glassware in various patterns and colors. The company also made glass automobile headlights and Holophane Glassware lighting fixtures. Heisey and his sons operated the company until 1957 when the factory closed.
The mission of the National Heisey Glass Museum states in part that it “is to preserve, collect, and interpret Heisey glass, related materials, and information.”
HCA maintains and supports the museum, which is also open to tourists.
Jack Burriss, Curator, and Director of the National Heisey Glass Museum took me on a tour of the original museum—historic King House—and the recent 6,000-square-foot addition.
The museum’s first area deals with each glass era from the company’s beginning to the 1950s in beautiful blues, pinks, clear, yellow, amber, and other colors. In the 1920s, for example, popular colors were Flamingo (a pastel rose-pink) and Moongleam (a vivid green).
Collection names are also creative, including Crystolite, Greek Key, Empress, Plantation, Ridgeleigh, Stanhope, Old Sandwich, and Yeoman.
The majority of the pieces are impressed with the company logo, a raised capital letter “H” inscribed in a diamond of approximately 1/4 inch in length. This mark is found on the bottom of most large pieces and the base or stem of drinking glasses and compotes. Collectors can often tell a piece of Heisey just by its color and design before looking for the trademark.
“Mr. Heisey was known as Mr. Salesman. He had orders for the glass before production,” says Burriss. “It was the best tabletop glassware in the nation.”
Another fascinating fact is all the designs were made by employees in-house.
“We get visitors wanting to study social trends, engineering, the chemistry of the formulas,” he continues. “It’s not just about glass.”
Our tour continues upstairs, where different colors are featured. “There are 8,500 pieces of glass in our collections, and we have a research library.”
I follow Burriss to the 1831 Samuel D. King House, where tables are set in Heisey glassware, and decorative pieces are showcased. The home features a Greek Revival style.
For anyone wanting to start a collection, the last stop on tour is a gift shop where original Heisey glassware is for sale. There are elegant pieces from different eras starting at only $5. HCA members donate the glassware to sell.
Heisey glass is highly collectible and also widely available in antique stores across North America and on online auctions like eBay.
After spending almost two hours at the museum, I leave with a new appreciation for the glassware, the company, and the man whose creativity made Heisey a household name and treasured possession for decades and into the future.Tags: Art Museum, Ohio