L.E. Smith Glass
By: Sandra Spence
Pictured (from right to left): Mr. Lewies Smith, Founder,
Mr. Walter Wible (son-in-law) and unidentified friend.
One of the first companies to build in this new industrial site was the Acme Lumber and Supply Company, with Mr. Steinman as one of its founders. The original office of the Acme Company is now the middle section of the L. E. Smith Glass Company. This building was constructed of concrete blocks which were handmade at the site by the Acme Lumber and Supply Company. In co-operating with plans for varied industries, the Acme Company erected a factory building for the Anchor Glass Company, in which the Acme owned stock. The glass factory made packers' containers such as mustard, olive and pickle jars on semi-automatic machinery. The Searchlight Manufacturing Company was built about the same time and made gas stoves. A wrench factory was erected, but the machinery was not installed.
During the Panic of 1907, the Farmers and Merchants Bank had to call in all its loans. Since the Acme and Anchor Companies, which had borrowed money from the bank, could not meet their obligations, they became bankrupt. In 1909 the stockholders of the present L. E. Smith Glass Company bought the glass plant at a bankruptcy sale. They went into business making "Smith's German Mustard" - Not only the mustard jars were made but the mustard itself was mixed and ground at the factory. Later the factory also made sherbet glasses, salt and pepper shakers, and other inexpensive articles.
On April 3, 1913, a pot of asphalt in the middle of the factory boiled over. Instead of smothering the fire, a worker threw water over the molten material. One end of the building had burned when suddenly the wind changed and the other end of the building was burned. Nothing was left of the building but the steel frame. Fortunately, the tanks were not destroyed. President Smith called a meeting of the stockholders. They decided to rebuild the factory immediately and the men were back to work in ten days. Until the new building was completed, they worked in the open, wearing straw hats for protection from the sun.
It was May 15, 1913, exactly six weeks to the day of the Anchor Company fire, that the Searchlight Company was burned to the ground. This building had no chimney but a stovepipe that became overheated and set off the second major fire. The citizens of Mount Pleasant, fearing that the industries might leave town because of lack of fire protection, raised eight hundred dollars to build a water pipe line and install two fire plugs at the factory site.
When the new glass plant building, which is now factory number one, was completed, L. E. Smith changed its line of manufactured goods. They made vault lights for three of the largest outlets in the United States. Vault lights are heavy glass blocks or bricks, about six inches by six inches by two inches thick, which are imbedded in the walls of buildings to allow light in from the outside. They were also constructed in sidewalks to let light in cellars or boiler rooms which extended under city sidewalks. The glass was specially designed to break up the light rays; thus the glass would let the light in but it could not be seen through. A number of these vault lights were. used in the building of an addition to the company office, and can be seen today above the windows.
The L. E. Smith Glass Company was the originator of the glass dome on the coffee percolator which had previously been made of tin. This was a great innovation because the housewife could observe the increasing strength of coffee as it was being brewed. Another first of L. E. Smith was the glass mixing bowl. This became even more popular with the invention of the electric mixer. As a matter of fact, glass mixing bowls became so popular the automatic machine factories started producing them at a cost so low that the Smiths could no longer compete. It was L. E. Smith Glass which made the first headlight lens for the Ford Motor Company. Until about 1919, the headlights had been made of plain window glass. Smith's continued making lens for Ford until the Second World War.
In the early 1920's, a law was passed in most states which required automobiles to have headlights which did not glare. L. E. Smith made twenty-two varieties of nonglare headlights. The Violet Ray Lens was one of the first. This lens was made of blue glass and gave a daylight effect. The top part projected out and was painted black with a white coating to reflect the light so that the light could pass through the bottom of the lens only. Another non-glare headlight manufactured at this time was the "More Light" which spread the light over the road instead of pointing the beam straight ahead.
In the late 1920's, Smith began to make such items as dinnerware which was sold to theatres to be used as premiums and candy novelties such as miniature telephones, little glass houses, and revolvers. At one time Smith's made their own bath salts to put in the glass containers which they made.
In 1958 the company introduced an entirely new line of items in decorator colors; and in 1962, a complete line of antique reproductions in the original old colors. Although lighting goods still account for a good portion of the production, the major volume is in the decorator items and antique reproductions in milk and color.
The factory now operates on a floor space of ninety thousand square feet, compared with the twenty thousand square feet in the original building. Smith glass is sold in every state of the Union and many foreign countries. At the present time the company provides steady employment for approximately two hundred persons. The annual payroll is a stabilising factor in the economics of Mount Pleasant.
Although the original plan was never fully realised, the L.E. Smith Glass Company and the surrounding residential area, still known as the "Duncan Plan" today, remain a monument to the Duncan sisters' dream.
Smith Glass Company first experimented with carnival glass in the 1950s, but never went into production until 1971.
The first two items produced were the J.F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln plates, limited to 2500 pieces of each in amethyst carnival. They were introduced in January 1971. Each item is numbered on the base.
The following July, a beautiful assortment of eleven items were introduced. One item in this list, the number 3403 vase, has turned out to be a very sought after item, since approximately 75 were produced and due to production difficulties, it was dropped from the Smith line.
SMITH GLASS COMPANY LIST: 1971 - 1972
Plates: 1971----- (Jan.) John F. Kennedy 2,500 made
1971----- (Jan.) Abraham Lincoln 2,500 made
1971----- (July) Christmas (Resembles Abe, Mary and Tod Lincoln) Approx. 1,000 made
1972----- Christmas (Angel) Approx. 1,000 made
1972----- Robert E. Lee Approx. 2,000 made
1972-----Jefferson Davis Approx. 2,000 made
1972-----Morgan Dollar 5,000 made
The above are all limited editions. Amethyst only.
INTRODUCED in JULY 1971: (Pattern in parenthesis) Amethyst
207--- Large Turkey
4624--- Candy Cover Jar (Daisy and Button)
3403--- Vase (Sandwitch early pattern ) Approx. 75 made
409--- Vase (Known as Ohio Star) McKee mold.
346--- Bowl (Hobstar and Daisy)
80--- Slipper (Daisy and Button)
4500--- Ash Tray (U.S. Eagle)
4621--- Bowl (Daisy and Button)
310--- Butter and Cover (Pinwheel and Hobstar) McKee mold.
4611--- Toothpick Holder (Daisy and Button)
316--- Handled Nappy (Hobstar) McKee mold.
INTRODUCED in 1972: (Pattern in parenthesis)
308L---Covered Sugar and Creamer (tall) (Hobstar) Lustre only, made 6 months only.
307L---Tall covered Jar (Hobstar) Lustre only, limited production.
5204L---Compote (Moon and Star) Lustre only, made one year.
5163L---Bowl (Mitre Diamond) Lustre only, limited production.
6661L---Large Angel Candleholder, Lustre only, made 6 months.
660L---Small Angle Candleholder, Lustre only, made 6 months.
321---Cream & Open Sugar set (Pinwheel and Hobstar)
366---Candleholder, handled (Hobstar)
722---Tumbler (Hobstar & variant)
727---Water Pitcher (Hobstar & variant)
8---Oval footed bowl (Hobstar & variant)
808C 10 piece Punch Set (inverted Feather and Hobstar) flared or cupped.
8089C 11 piece Punch Set (Inverted Feather and Hobstar) Gold Metal Base, flared or cupped.
9103C 15 piece Punch Set, Grape & Vine (matched stand) Cupped only.
The Smith colors: A---Amber / G---Green / C---Amethyst / L---Crystal Lustre.
Items listed by number only could be bought in the above colors. Items listed with the suffix C are amethyst only. Items listed with the suffix L were discontinued.
L.E. Smith is still producing glass today, many of the traditional
patterns in glass ware and many others that are a part of the growing line at Smith Glass.
Below are some examples of how Smith Glass Company trade marked their glass.
|This is the most common trade markings you will find on Smith Glass. This is a large "S" with a little "G" and a little "C" in the top and bottom.|
|This is an early trade marked that was used, a plan small "S".|
There were many pieces made to that had no trade marking at all.
Below are articles on Smith Carnival Glass Rarities
ARTICLES (With Values)
The Links below will take to pictures of Smith Carnival Glass.
These are large and may take some time to down load.
Amethyst Carnival Glass
Gold (Amber) Carnival Glass
Crystal Lustre Carnival Glass
Green Carnival Glass
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