The Hawkes Rich Cut Glass Works was established in 1880 in Corning, New York. In 1890, the firm was incorporated as T. G. Hawkes & Co. In its day, the Hawkes Company epitomized the finest in cut glass production, creating over 300 outstandingly beautiful cut and engraved stemware patterns and other pieces. The company was exclusively a decorating outlet and purchased all of its blanks (undecorated glass) from outside sources.
The Hawkes Company was founded by Thomas Gibbons Hawkes, who migrated from Ireland at age 17. Thomas had studied civil engineering in school, but ended up in the glass business perhaps due to the pull of his ancestral ties.
He descended from two families with generations of experience in the glass world: the Hawkes family of Dudley, England, and the Penrose family of Waterford, Ireland. The Penrose name was linked to the founding of Waterford Glass. Thomas Hawkes of Dudley was reportedly the first person in England to make deeply cut glass. Prior to founding the Hawkes Company, Thomas was employed ten years as a foreman at the glass cutting firm of Hoare & Dailey in Corning.
When Thomas Hawkes died in 1913, his son, Samuel, who was already apprenticed in the glass trade, became President of the Hawkes Company, operating it successfully for thirty years. The company would remain a family-run enterprise until its closing in 1962.
During its 82 years in business, T. G. Hawkes & Company captured world-wide attention for its products, designing crystal services for members of royalty and at least two U.S. Presidents. Designs were masterfully executed on dozens of shapes and weights of glass. Customers could choose from a large variety of bowl shapes and stem forms and the choice of a round or square foot. For many years, Hawkes also ran a replacement service for their active and discontinued patterns.
Hawkes' large array of stemware, so highly prized today, often came with magnificent serving pieces, such as compotes, cruets, mayonnaise sets, and punch bowls. Enormous amounts of bar ware and bar accessories were produced, including decanters, martini pitchers, bitters bottles and ice buckets. Many home accent items were also made - picture frames, lamps and vases - as well as lovely cologne and perfume bottles. Hawkes' products were sold at leading jewelry stores and major department stores in the United States, Canada, and overseas.
The firm's logo was a trefoil form enclosing a hawk in each of the two bottom lobes with a fleur-de-lis in the center. By 1920, only the acid-etched name HAWKES began to appear. About half the pieces are marked.
During the early years of operation, the Hawkes Company obtained the majority of its blanks from the Steuben Glass Works, a Corning firm that Thomas Hawkes, Frederick Carder and others founded in 1903. Steuben was established mainly to make blanks for Hawkes, however, art glass, similar to the quality of Tiffany's, was also made there. When the Steuben Glass Works was sold to Corning Glass Works in the 20s, Hawkes continued to purchase most of its colored blanks from the Steuben Division of Corning Glass.
Over the years, some of the companies Hawkes obtained blanks from included Duncan and Miller, Dorflinger and Sons, Tiffin Glass, A. H. Heisey, Libbey Glass, Seneca Glass, and Thomas Webb and Sons of England. The quality of many of the manufacturers' blanks varied, depending on the orders set forth by Hawkes. Occasionally, in Hawkes' catalogues, the blank producer is mentioned.
The Hawkes Company's early decorating techniques mainly emphasized cutting and engraving. Both colored blanks and blanks with applied color were decorated at the firm. Cut designs usually bore geometric motifs, however some floral decorations were also produced. Engraving designs included enchanting pictorial scenes, animals and flowers.
Hawkes offered various styles of engraving, including relief (the design is raised above the background) and intaglio (the design is cut below the surface). Hawkes' intaglio glass carried a separate trademark and was known as Gravic Glass. Enameling, silvering, and gilding were some of the other decorating methods used by Hawkes in later years.
T. G. Hawkes & Company enjoyed great prosperity for almost the first half of the century. After World War II, however, after Samuel Hawkes retired, the company began to record financial losses. Thomas Hawkes' nephew, Penrose Hawkes, took control of the firm, but his efforts would be to no avail. The company racked up substantial losses in the 50's and in 1962 a decision was made to cease operations.
The Tiffin Glass Company of Tiffin, Ohio, purchased Hawkes' trademarks, patterns and equipment in 1964 with the intention of establishing the T. G. Hawkes Division of Tiffin. While Tiffin Glass did produce some Hawkes patterns, the Hawkes line was never developed as originally envisioned.
In 1984, Jim Maxwell, a former Tiffin Glass cutter, bought the Tiffin molds and equipment. In 1992, Maxwell began producing four old Hawkes' patterns and four Tiffin patterns under "Maxwell Crystal, Inc".
In 1997 Maxwell Crystal, Inc. became Crystal Traditions of Tiffin, Inc. Crystal Traditions continues to hand cut crystal in many of the patterns created by Hawkes. Crystal Traditions owns the Tiffin Glass molds and the Hawkes trademark. Click here to view a list of Hawkes crystal patterns carried by Replacements, Ltd.
Source: Page, B.; Frederiksen, D.; A Collection of American Crystal A stemware Identification Guide for Glastonbury/Lotus, Libbey/rock Sharpe & Hawkes; Greensboro, NC: Page/Frederiksen Publications; 1995