Our Museum Feature this month is an exquisite cordial in the Wedding Ring pattern by Fostoria. (A cordial is typically a miniaturized goblet for drinking liqueurs.) This cordial stands 3-inches tall with a convex bowl that flares at the top, an elegant multi-sided stem, and chic platinum trim. The term “cordial” is derived from the Latin word for “heart” (cordialis), making the Wedding Ring cordial especially appropriate, as it was once believed that a vein ran directly to the heart from the third finger on the left hand (the traditional wedding ring finger in some Western cultures).
Cordials date back to the 1600s, when they were used to administer different alcohol-based concoctions believed to be good for one’s general health, and especially good for the heart. Over time, cordials began to be used more for recreation than for wellness. Today, cordials are used to serve liqueurs like schnapps and other sweet, dessert-like after-dinner drinks. Because modern crystal manufacturers have decreased production of such pieces, many crystal cordials have become highly collectible and rare. Crystal cordials are often miniature versions of a given water goblet pattern, which is another reason for collector interest – the process to retain all the intricacies of a large water goblet in a miniature crystal replica requires a degree of adroitness and craftsmanship that adds to the collectability of these pieces.
Fostoria, the maker of the cordial featured here, was founded as a glass-producing house in 1887 in Fostoria, Ohio. Although the townspeople of Fostoria had given their land to the glass company for free, the company’s leaders moved the company’s facilities to Moundsville, West Virginia in 1891, in search of more abundant natural resources.
By 1925, Fostoria’s factory had expanded to include five more furnaces. Primarily, the company produced decorative lamps and stemware pieces for the American home. Competing actively against Cambridge, Heisey, and Westmoreland Glass, Fostoria would soon emerge as the leader in the American glassware market. It is during this period that Fostoria began marketing lines of colored dinnerware and stemware pieces. The new products became an immediate success, being ideal for the emergence of more casual home entertaining.
Throughout the 1930s, Fostoria struggled to survive. The Great Depression had a notable impact on the luxury glassware market. Although many of Fostoria’s competitors would be forced out of business during the Depression, innovative marketing techniques and business-savvy managers would allow Fostoria to survive. World War II reduced Fostoria’s labor force by half and caused much of the company’s resources to be devoted to the war effort. Like many other companies in the United States, Fostoria weathered the hardships imposed by war. It is during the WWII period that Fostoria produced many of its most famous patterns including Chintz (1940), Colony (1940), Romance (1942), and Holly (1942) .
Following World War II, Fostoria would begin its most aggressive expansion. Its labor force was increased to its pre-war number, more natural resources were made available to the company, and the demand for casual and elegant dinnerware would increase to an all-time high. New technologies developed during the war allowed Fostoria to create beautiful, elegant patterns that were easily maintained. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Fostoria introduced more lines of beautiful crystal including Century (1950), Rose (1951), Wedding Ring (1953), and Jamestown (1958) .
The company continued to do well through the 1960s and 1970s, in part due to a marketing strategy that created a new form of consumer-producer relationship. Fostoria boutiques and display rooms were built into many fashionable jewelry and department stores, and the company began publishing its own consumer direct magazine, “Creating with Crystal.” These and other marketing strategies kept Fostoria as a leader in the glass producing industry.
Increased foreign competition during the 1970s took its toll on the once-successful business, and Fostoria was forced to sell its stock and the Moundsville factory to the Lancaster Colony Corporation. Although Lancaster Colony closed Fostoria in 1983, the Fostoria name is indicative of an American legend, and Fostoria pieces remain highly collectible.
cordial in our museum is not for sale, we do have a variety of Fostoria
items available for purchase in our inventory; be sure to browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities – here you'll see a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles! Our 500,000-square-foot facilities hold more than 12 million individual pieces in more than 425,000 patterns! Our showroom and museum are open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm ET, 7 days (except holidays); free tours are available from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ET, 7 days. The showroom and museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at
exit 132 off Interstate 85/40
. We look forward to seeing you!