1901 to 1985
The Imperial Glass Company of Bellaire, Ohio was formed by a group of investors in 1901 but did not officially start pouring glass until 1904. Imperial's goal was to produce a very high quality glass that was affordable by all and they accomplished this goal quite well for 80 plus years. Their first customer in 1904 was none other than F.W. Woolworth himself. Imperial supplied 500 Woolworth's stores with high quality crystal water sets, table sets, berry sets and many other decorative items. Their crystal items were a great success with the general buying public. The quality was by far superior than that of their competitors. Many more large contracts were soon to follow.
Imperial did not immediately jump on the carnival glass band wagon in 1908 like Northwood did. Their crystal items were doing so well that perhaps they did not need to. It soon became evident however, that this iridized glass craze was not going to go away so they too began making carnival glass. In 1910, Imperial iridized glass began appearing in trade catalogs. Imperial applied their high standards of excellence in creating a superior iridized product.
Fenton and Northwood produced elaborate patterns which were made primarily for decorative use, in an art glass sense. Imperial's designs were made to be functional as well as decorative so the glass itself had to be a superior quality. It needed to be thicker and stronger to withstand the test of time and use. Their quality control was second to none. The iridescent spray was evenly applied and consistent from piece to piece. There is none of the great color variation as is found in Fenton and Northwood. The tool marks, straw marks and other manufacturers flaws are almost nonexistent in Imperial Glass. You can easily see how Imperial controlled many of the chain store markets. There were no surprises. High quality glass, good, even, consistent color; clean, clear molding, pleasing, well shaped designs with a minimum of flaws. Not quite as artsy as Fenton and Northwood but, definitely beautiful, well made glass.
Imperial continued to make carnival until 1930. They survived the depression (just barely) and were going strong again in the 1940's. Very little carnival was made until the 1960's when the public again became interested in the pretty rainbow glass. Many of the old carnival patterns were reissued but these reproductions are marked with the IG mark to distinguish them from the old. Imperial continued to make carnival in limited quantities until they closed in 1985. Carnival made from 1972 to 1981 bear the LIG mark. Carnival made from 1982 to 1985 bear the ALIG mark.
Some of the Popular Imperial Patterns & Shapes
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