In 1842, A. H. Heisey and his parents immigrated to the United States from Germany. The Heisey family settled in Merrittown, Pennsylvania. As an adult, A. H. Heisey worked as a glass blower for the Cascade Glass Co. in Pittsburgh. He left his job at Cascade Glass to serve with the 155th Infantry Division of Pennsylvania. Soon after the close of the Civil War, A. H. Heisey returned to Pennsylvania to find work in the glass blowing industry. He was hired by the firm Ripley and Co. as a salesmen. At Ripley and Co., A. H. Heisey met his future wife, Susan.
Susan Duncan was the daughter of the controlling partner of the Ripley and Co. firm. Her father would later buy Ripley and Co. and rename it Duncan and Sons. Over the next few years, A. H. Heisey worked closely with Susan’s father in running the Duncan firm. Duncan and Sons joined the U.S. Glass Combine in 1893. US Glass was a group of glass producing factories throughout the Ohio River Valley. A. H. Heisey was made a member of the board of directors for the Duncan and Sons Co. Also, he served as the company’s managing director in charge of sales. It is during this time that Heisey decided to open his own factory.
In 1895, Heisey began building his own glass factory in Newark, OH. The construction of the factory was beset with a number of problems. At one point, an entire wall collapsed. The factory produced its first line of glassware in April of 1896. In 1900, the company began using its famous trademark, an “H” placed in the center of a diamond. The diamond “H” logo was designed by A. H. Heisey’s son, George Duncan. The idea for the design came from George Duncan’s fraternity pin. The diamond “H” logo would remain in use until the company’s closing.
The Heisey Co.’s early designs were relatively plain but brightly colored. Early colors include emerald, ivorina verde (custard), opal, and canary. In 1907, Heisey released its Colonial pattern. This pattern remained in production until the company’s closing in 1958. By 1914, the company began producing pieces that were etched. A. H. Heisey died in 1922. His second son, Wilson Heisey, inherited control of the company. Wilson Heisey received his college education from Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, PA. He graduated with a degree in chemistry and would use these skills to develop many of the company’s colors.
The Heisey Co. continued to be successful. After the Prohibition Act was repealed in 1930, Heisey released an extensive line of barwares. These barware patterns helped the company survive the Great Depression. The company’s sales remained high throughout the war and post war periods. In 1940, the company released its most successful pattern, Orchid . They also introduced a series of very successful pressed patterns, including Plantation . In addition to their barware and stemware patterns, Heisey began producing a line of glass figurines. These figurines were designed by Royal Hickman. The glass figurines produced by Heisey found immense favor with the buying public. The 1944-45 Broadway production of Tennessee William’s play, The Glass Menagerie, featured glass figurines produced by Heisey Glass Co.
The years following the Second World War were mixed with a series of successes and failures for the Heisey Glass Co. In 1949, the immensely successful Heisey Rose was released. During the postwar period, American life changed dramatically. Elegant stemware became less favored by the American public. Neila and Tom Bredehoft, writers of Heisey Glass, once remarked, “Life became much more informal – the stylish dinner party gave way to the back yard barbeque.” Heisey attempted to adjust to the informal lifestyle to which America had grown accustomed. In 1954, Heisey hired Eva Zeisel to produce a number of modern patterns for the company. Although her designs won a number of industry awards, they never sold well.
In 1958, Heisey sold all of its assets to the Imperial Glass Co. of Bellaire, OH. The company closed its doors permanently on Christmas Day, 1957. Imperial Glass Co. filed for bankruptcy in 1984. Heisey’s original molds were acquired by the Heisey Collectors of America, an association of collectors who are located in Newark, OH. Replacements, Ltd. carries number of Heisey’s pattern, including Crystolite, Minuet, and Moonglo . Be sure to browse our extensive inventory of Heisey patterns and sign up to receive fast, free e-mail or US Mail inventory availability and pricing information for your china, crystal, or silver patterns!