The Early Cut Glass of Corning

New Catalog for 2017

Complementing the 2017 convention theme, “Crystal City Homecoming,” our catalog this year focuses on the earliest known cut glass produced by the two definitive Corning cutting shop magnates, John Hoare and his protégé, T. G. Hawkes.

The year 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of glass coming to Corning. It was in 1868 that the Brooklyn Flint Glass Works pulled up stakes, moved to Corning, and established the Corning Flint Glass Works. Importantly for us, with the lure of a brand-new, rent-free cutting shop in their new factory, they brought a good customer of theirs, John Hoare, with them to Corning. For a few years afterwards Hoare operated two cutting shops, one in Brooklyn and one in Corning, but by 1873 he closed the Brooklyn shop and was firmly entrenched in Corning. Famously, Hoare brought with him an energetic young Irishman as a foreman, Thomas Gibbons Hawkes, who in 1880 left Hoare and founded his own cutting shop. Both firms prospered and were in business for many years. The Hoare firm closed its doors in 1920 after producing fine cut glass in Corning for over fifty years. The Hawkes firm continued on until 1962, closing their doors after having been in business for over eighty years.

What did these two noted firms produce in their “early years” in Corning, i.e., the 1870s into the late 1880s ? This is a good question and one that this year’s catalog attempts to answer. Their Early Hoare and Hawkes wares are not always easy to identify, since they weren’t were not “signing” their wares glass with acid etched ID identification marks in this period.

The ACGA has previously published several catalogs from each of these companies. All of them cover the heyday of the American Brilliant period, starting in the late 1880s. This year’s catalog initiates the cycle by concentrating on the early production of each firm from 1870 to 1890, the period toward the end of the nineteenth century that immediately preceded the flowering of “our” American Brilliant cut glass era.

Our quest took us to the Rakow Research Library at the Corning Museum of Glass where we found several sources documenting the early production of these companies, importantly two from the Hoare firm and one from the Hawkes firm. They form the basis for this year’s publication.

The catalog has three major “chapters.”The first chapter contains the material found in a large, leather-covered “scrapbook” bearing the title John Hoare Cut Glass Manufacturer, Corning N.Y. It is filled with small pictures of early Hoare pieces, each identified only with a hand-written, four-digit number. The Rakow dates this scrapbook circa 1882 to 1890. The second chapter contains material found in a small catalog with a leather cover which is gold stamped J. Hoare & Co., Corning, New York. The pages are oilcloth (or something similar) with photos glued on, typically one item per page. The Rakow dates this catalog circa 1890. The final chapter is a compilation of trade cards produced by Hawkes before he began printing conventional catalogs of his wares. The Rakow has three sets of such cards. It appears they were produced over a period of years. The earlier ones have a Hawkes name at the top, often with handwritten prices. The later ones have no specific Hawkes identification, and the prices are printed. The Rakow believes they were produced between 1885 and 1890. We have gone through the sets and produced one comprehensive compilation of ninety cards representing the “best of the lot”.

You might ask how much of the material is new. The bulk of it is. Twenty of the over two hundred images in the first set were published in the 1992 ACGA Hoare (teal covered) catalog. Estelle Sinclaire Farrar and Jane Spillman published about one-third of the second source in their definitive The Complete Cut & Engraved Glass of Corning, and Spillman published around one-third of the Hawkes Trade Cards in The American Cut Glass Industry, T.G. Hawkes and his Competitors.

We all know that to understand the present, it helps to understand the past. This catalog provides a concentrated, visual insight into the beginnings of the American Brilliant cut glass movement. As an example, it appears that in the “early years” covered in this catalog, generally patterns were few, but blank shapes abounded.

Our hope is that this will become a “go to” source for identifying early Hoare and Hawkes cut glass. The catalog will be available in July. All presale orders will be shipped via the U.S. Postal Service. To order, please fill out the form included in the recent mailing from Bill Evans and get it (and your check) back to him by June 30, since prices go up on July 1. Online ordering through the ACGA web site is also available.

The ACGA Catalog Committee is pleased to offer this catalog and the insights that it will provide.

Member price: $60.00 -- order online

Non-member price: $65.00 -- order online