The First Name In Glass
By Bonnie Pruitt
The name "St. Clair has become synonymous with handmade glass items to collectors everywhere.
The first John St. Clair migrated from Alsace-Lorraine, France, in 1885. He passed his glassmaking skills to his son, also named John. This son, known as Pop to his family and the community, in turn passer the art on to his sons: John, Paul Joseph, Edward and Robert. Pop St.Clair and his wife, Ellen, also had five daughters.
The discovery of natural gas in Elwood in 1887, along with an abundance of sand with gas, made Elwood a natural spot for glass making. Five major glass houses were erected in the town, but by 1936 many of them had closed their doors. Pop and three of his sons went to West Virginia at this time, but Joe remained in Elwood to build his own factory.
His new shop was built in the backyard of his family home. It was equipped with one small furnace and very little equipment. In 1941 the family returned and began production in the St. Clair Glass Works.
Through the years the reputation of St. Clair family created an increased demand and respect for their artistry. A gift shop was added with Mrs. St. Clair and the sisters adding their talents as bookkeepers and packing and shipping clerks.
After Pop's death in 1958, Joe assumed the responsibility of the plant. Following a fire in 1964 which completely destroyed the original factory, a larger and more modern plant was constructed. The St. Clair family continued to create collector's items, unusual handmade pieces and pressed glass items
Joe retired in 1971 , selling the factory to Robert Courtney and Richard Gregg, who continued production at the plant on North 5th Street. The same year, the youngest brother, Bob St. Clair. began a factory on State Road 28, a few blocks west of the city limits of Elwood.
In 1974 Joe returned to glass making and opened Joe St. Clair Art Glass on North 13th Street. He specialized in unique pieces made with love and care that had been trademark of St. Clair products since Pop St. Clair began many years ago. In 1974 he also resumed operation of the original glass factory, and continued his work there until his death in October, 1987.
St. Clair Trade Markings
You will find that most of the St. Clair Glass that was made will have the St. Clair trade markings. But there is some of the early St. Clair Glass that had no trade markings. There are quite a few that gets his carnival glass confused with that of the old. His quality of glass and the craftsmanship of how he iridesized his glass was A+.
This script signature of his full name will appear all in one line. This script signature of his name will appear all in one line This is an example of the letters ST being capital and the word Clair not. This example can be seen on many of St. Clair items. Three lines and all with capitals. This example can also be found on some St Clair glass as well. This would appear to be in a circle with a date in the middle. This is the same as the above but with out the date.
Some other trade markings are:
JOE ST CLAIR all in upper case.
ST CLAIR all in upper case.
JST.C letters all upper case.
Table of Contents
Carnival Glass Pattern Identification & VALUE Guide